Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Missing' polar weather systems could impact climate predictions

17.12.2012
Intense but small-scale polar storms could make a big difference to climate predictions according to new research from the University of East Anglia and the University of Massachusetts.

Difficult-to-forecast polar mesoscale storms occur frequently over the polar seas, however they are missing in most climate models.

Research published today in Nature Geoscience shows that their inclusion could paint a different picture of climate change in years to come.

Polar mesoscale storms are capable of producing hurricane-strength winds which cool the ocean and lead to changes in its circulation.

Prof Ian Renfrew, from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, said: "These polar lows are typically under 500 km in diameter and over within 24-36 hours. They're difficult to predict, but we have shown they play an important role in driving large-scale ocean circulation.

"There are hundreds of them a year in the North Atlantic, and dozens of strong ones. They create a lot of stormy weather, strong winds and snowfall – particularly over Norway, Iceland, and Canada, and occasionally over Britain, such as in 2003 when a massive dump of snow brought the M11 to a standstill for 24 hours.

"We have shown that adding polar storms into computer-generated models of the ocean results in significant changes in ocean circulation - including an increase in heat travelling north in the Atlantic Ocean and more overturning in the Sub-polar seas.

"At present, climate models don't have a high enough resolution to account for these small-scale polar lows.

"As Arctic Sea ice continues to retreat, polar lows are likely to migrate further north, which could have consequences for the 'thermohaline' or northward ocean circulation – potentially leading to it weakening."

Alan Condron from the University of Massachusetts said: "By simulating polar lows, we find that the area of the ocean that becomes denser and sinks each year increases and causes the amount of heat being transported towards Europe to intensify.

"The fact that climate models are not simulating these storms is a real problem because these models will incorrectly predict how much heat is being moved northward towards the poles. This will make it very difficult to reliably predict how the climate of Europe and North America will change in the near-future."

Prof Renfrew added: "Climate models are always improving, and there is a trade-off between the resolution of the model, the complexity of the model, and the number of simulations you can carry out. Our work suggests we should put some more effort into resolving such storms."

'The impact of polar mesoscale storms on Northeast Atlantic ocean circulation' by Alan Condron from the University of Massachusetts (US) and Ian Renfrew from UEA (UK), is published in Nature Geoscience on December 16, 2012.

Lisa Horton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uea.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction
26.07.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds
25.07.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>