Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists probe Indian Ocean for clues to worldwide weather patterns

23.09.2011
Study how tropical weather brews in the Indian Ocean and moves eastward along the equator

An international team of researchers will begin gathering in the Indian Ocean next month, using aircraft, ships, moorings, radars, numerical models and other tools to study how tropical weather brews there and moves eastward along the equator, with reverberating effects around the globe.

The six-month field campaign, known as DYNAMO or Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, will help improve long-range weather forecasts and seasonal outlooks and enable scientists to further refine computer models of global climate.

DYNAMO is organized internationally as the Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability in the Year 2011 (CINDY2011), which is led by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

The goal of the DYNAMO field campaign is to better understand a disturbance of the tropics, known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation or MJO.

This disturbance, which originates in the equatorial Indian Ocean roughly every 30 to 90 days, is part of the Asian and Australian monsoons and can enhance hurricane activity in the northeast Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, trigger torrential rainfall along the west coast of North America and affect the onset of El Niño.

Scientists believe that the MJO is the world's greatest source of atmospheric variability in the one- to three-month time frame.

"The Madden-Julian Oscillation has a huge impact all over the globe," says Chidong Zhang of the University of Miami, DYNAMO's chief scientist. "It connects weather and climate, and it is important to forecasting."

"The MJO drives weather in both hemispheres even though it sits along the equator," says Jim Moore of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and director of the DYNAMO project office. "Its origins have never been measured in such a systematic fashion before."

DYNAMO, the Littoral Air-Sea Processes (LASP) Experiment, and the ARM MJO Investigation Experiment (AMIE) are the three U.S. projects contributing to CINDY 2011.

DYNAMO, LASP, and AMIE are jointly supported by several United States agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"DYNAMO is exciting because it's our first chance to do a large, in-depth field campaign in the Indian Ocean," says scientist Eric DeWeaver, program director in the NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funds DYNAMO.

"This is a rare occasion," DeWeaver says, "when many countries pool their scientific resources to look at a phenomenon that's of tremendous interest to everyone. The precipitation pattern over the Indian Ocean can influence weather and climate as far away as the USA, including the number of hurricanes that form in the Gulf of Mexico."

There are a total of 16 countries providing staff, facilities, and/or observations to the international effort. The countries are: Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Korea, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

U.S. scientists, students, engineers and staff from 16 universities and 11 national laboratories and centers participate in the field campaign. NCAR provides major observing facilities to the science team and helps to oversee operations and data management for the project.

The main observation sites will be based in the Maldives, Diego Garcia and Manus Island, as well as aboard research ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean. The major radar array and land-based observation "Super Site" will be located on Addu Atoll.

The AMIE project provides continuous observations on Addu Atoll and Manus for the six-month period.

"The entire international program encompasses a vast expanse of the Indian Ocean on both sides of the equator, and into the equatorial western Pacific, providing scientists a chance to measure the pulse of the whole life cycle of the MJO," says Chuck Long of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, AMIE's principal investigator.

The MJO plays a key role in driving tropical weather and climate variations during all seasons of the year. It also interacts with other atmospheric patterns, such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, that can shape weather and climate patterns across much of the globe.

Scientists need to better understand the MJO, both to improve long-range weather forecasts and seasonal outlooks worldwide, and perhaps make the leap to longer-term forecasts of climate that may extend years into the future.

In winter, for example, the onset of an MJO can set off atmospheric waves that travel across the globe and, about 10 days later, influence the location and severity of major storms on the west coast of North America, some of which cause significant flooding.

"If you can find out how an MJO event starts, you may get a couple of weeks' warning about wintertime storms in the United States," says NCAR scientist Mitchell Moncrieff, a member of the DYNAMO Science Steering Committee.

At present, the computer models that scientists use to study global weather and climate fail to capture the oscillation very well. The information from the field campaign can lead to significant improvements in the models.

As global climate changes, it is becoming more important to understand how the atmosphere and oceans interact to regulate Earth's temperature and respond to long-term variation.

Field projects such as DYNAMO and AMIE, with an emphasis on basic research, add to scientists' growing body of knowledge about the many interconnected components of Earth's complex climate system.

"The long-term applications and implications of the data that come from this international field campaign could be profound in terms of our understanding of weather, climate, and climate change," Moore says.

The DYNAMO field campaign brings a considerable array of instruments to bear on the MJO, including two research aircraft provided by NOAA and the French Airborne Environment Research Service, four ships from the United States, India, Indonesia and Japan, a half-dozen meteorological radars, moored buoys and a suite of other instruments.

Especially critical during the field campaign are radars, which provide information about the microphysics inside clouds and rainstorms that lead to the development of the MJO.

At the project "Super Site" on Addu Atoll, a meteorological radar array with seven different frequencies will be used to scan the MJO as it moves through the region.

These radars are NCAR's S-PolKa, a dual-wavelength Doppler radar that can distinguish the sizes and shapes of precipitation particles and observe the water vapor from which clouds form, thereby shedding light on the development of clouds and rainfall; Texas A&M C-band radar that can estimate rainfall and latent heating; and a suite of radars in a mobile facility of AMIE that detect different types of clouds.

"DYNAMO and AMIE mark the first time in the modern era that we'll be able to use remote sensing techniques, particularly radar, to measure atmospheric phenomena from individual cloud droplets to large raindrops," Moore says. "We have instrument capabilities for this project that we didn't have 10 or 15 years ago."

In addition to measuring the sky, the researchers also will turn their attention to the sea.

The physical properties of the ocean, such as temperature and salinity, are as important to the MJO as are the properties of the atmosphere.

A collection of ocean sensors, deployed from ships and moorings in the open ocean, will collect data on ocean-atmosphere interactions.

In addition to deploying the S-PolKa radar, NCAR supports the project by providing sounding systems that measure standard weather variables, hosting the project's logistics and planning office and handling data management, which includes creating a real-time, online field catalog and long-term data archive.

The U.S. researchers are collaborating heavily with their Maldivian hosts. The Maldives Meteorological Service is providing local weather knowledge, meeting and operations space, and facilities; the researchers in turn will offer training on radar and other instrumentation to local meteorologists.

A DYNAMO and AMIE media day and opening ceremony will take place on Addu Atoll at the beginning of the field campaign.

Other outreach activities with local schools and organizations will be incorporated into the project during the entire deployment period.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>