"Our test wind screen set up on the Rhône glacier resulted in a definite cooling of the air near the surface, with the drop in temperature being up to three degrees centigrade," reported Professor Hans-Joachim Fuchs of the Institute of Geography of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
"We also suspect that this could make it possible to slow down the melting rate of the ice. However, although we were able to observe this phenomenon, we are unable to offer any clear proof of it.” Together with 27 geography students, Professor Fuchs on Friday night presented the results of a project study during which the participants investigated the effects of global climate change on the Rhône glacier and developed solutions to this problem.
For this purpose, the students spent 10 days in the Wallis region in August 2008 and set up a wind screen with a length of 15 meters and a height of three meters. Over a period of six days, eleven digital measuring stations were used to record 95,000 measurement values to determine the air temperature directly at the wind screen, in its immediate vicinity, and at a distance from it. The data evaluation showed that the cooling effect was greatest when the sky was clear and there was a prevailing downwind. The temperatures within the wind screen were on average 1.5 to 2 degrees lower at night than the temperatures outside the wind screen. The maximum temperature difference recorded was as much as 3 degrees centigrade. "The further away the stations were from the wind screen, the higher the temperature measured," Fuchs reported. "This is a very definite, well-defined and above all consistent trend, which shows that the wind screen experiment worked."
Even on days with low pressure weather conditions, characterized by strong cloud cover and rain, with the wind coming from the south-west, the night-time temperatures inside the wind screen were 0.8 to 1 degree centigrade lower than outside the wind screen. Although the temperatures inside the wind screen area were generally lower during the day, the effect was not as clear as it was at night, as other influences such as direct solar radiation had an effect on the measuring stations. "The effectiveness of the wind screen would surely have been even greater if we had had stable high-pressure weather conditions with stronger, catabatic glacier winds," Fuchs added.
For technical reasons, it was not possible to measure the temperature of the ice surface with special infrared devices. Consequently, no data about the cooling of the glacier ice is available. "We were able to observe, though, that the hardness of the ice in the vicinity of the wind screen remained approximately the same throughout the day, while outside the wind screen, the ice crystals melted on the surface and the hardness decreased." Further observations of the project team support the estimate that the melting rate decreased in the vicinity of the wind screen.
A survey among visitors to the Rhône glacier also formed part of the project study. Although it was concluded that most of the 230 respondents were aware of climate change, they had no knowledge about the possible consequences and dangers. Against this background, the team designed a learning path called "Seeing and understanding the glacier", which runs along a kilometer-long footpath to a famous ice grotto. The grotto is visited by up to 1,500 tourists per day during the summer months. In addition, a folder was designed to inform people about the glacier, the way it is changing as well as the possible effects of climate change. Both the learning path and the folder were financed by a Swiss company.
Another sub-project was the educational film produced by the students of Mainz university using professional equipment, which is to be shown to the public on 6 February 2009.
"The test wind screen is, of course, much too small for a glacier. However, as it showed a clear cooling effect, this provides a starting point for further ideas and improvements to the construction. The students have already submitted recommendations in this regard." Project manager Fuchs also pointed out that this is merely a matter of treating the symptoms, while treating the cause remains the "top priority." According to Professor Fuchs, however, the glacier is retreating too quickly to wait until there is global insight into climate protection. "Most of our drinking water reserves are still bound in the glacier ice, but how long will this still be the case?"
Prof Dr Hans-Joachim Fuchs | alfa
NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
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