But the weather-climate dichotomy paints an incomplete picture – one that may be complicating efforts to untangle natural variations in climate from man-made effects, according to McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy.
In a paper published recently in the journal Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, and in a forthcoming book, Lovejoy argues that statistical analysis shows there is a period between short-term weather and long-term climate that should be recognized as distinct.
Using the three-part atmospheric regime also makes the challenge of climate modeling more precise, and could open up a new set of approaches for modeling and predicting the climate, Lovejoy says.
Lovejoy used a new kind of "fluctuation analysis" to show that there are three atmospheric regimes, each with different types of variability. Between the weather (periods less than 10 days) and the climate (periods longer than about 30 to 100 years), there is an intermediate "macroweather" regime. A graphic representation makes the case intuitively clear.
The accompanying chart shows examples from weather (one-hour resolution, bottom), macroweather (20 days, middle) and climate (one century, top). The daily and annual cycles were removed and 720 consecutive points from each resolution are shown so that the differences in the characters of each regime are visually obvious.
At the bottom, the weather curve "wanders" up or down in a path resembling a drunkard's walk. In the middle, the macroweather curve has a markedly different character: upward fluctuations are typically followed by nearly cancelling downward ones. "The longer the period over which we average it, the smaller the variations become," Lovejoy says.
By contrast, the century scale climate curve (top) displays again a weather-like, wandering variability. (While this plot shows temperatures, other atmospheric fields – including wind, humidity and precipitation -- are similar.)
Although the ultimate implications of macroweather may not be known for some time, a basic change in our understanding of what climate is will surely have repercussions, Lovejoy notes.
"Macroweather clarifies the distinction between natural and anthropogenic types of variability and allows us to separate the two with more confidence."The old saying that "climate is what you expect, weather is what you get," also needs to be reconsidered, he adds. "Macroweather is what we expect."
Chris Chipello | EurekAlert!
Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering