Mid-level clouds are so understudied, Nasiri says, that scientists have yet to develop a common nomenclature for them. "We do not have a unified definition, so the scientific community can't look at the statistics with a shared level of understanding. Also, because mid-level clouds are formed either from water droplets or ice crystals or a combination of both, they can be more difficult to model.
"Only in the past few years have we focused on the physical properties of mid-level clouds. This means that previous climate models are incomplete," Nasiri says. "All cloud formations are important tracers in the climate-change equation. But we must accurately define and measure the middle layer before we can have a complete picture."
Nasiri credits recent satellite technology for being the vehicle that gives scientists the facts and figures needed to fold the essence of clouds into climate-change formulas.
"NASA satellites launched over the last few years have helped us identify height and base, and temperature and pressure of mid-level clouds. This has revolutionized atmospheric studies," she says. Called the A Train, a formation of six satellites collects and relays an unprecedented amount of atmospheric data, giving scientists such as Nasiri the ability to see all the way through clouds around the globe.
The Texas A&M geoscientist notes the amount of data received from the satellites is so enormous, that part of her work the last two years has been number crunching, developing algorithms just so she and other scientists could process the information.
Sometimes, mid-level clouds can't be seen or identified from the ground. And the high-flying cirrus layer can obscure them from the air. Altostratus and altocumulus are the common mid-level clouds, Nasiri explains. But the line of demarcation between low, mid-level and high clouds is unclear, a problem for scientists because although clouds play a major role they are the least understood variable in climate change studies.
The NASA award of the type presented to Nasiri, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M, is given to promising young researchers to further their studies in Earth's systems. Her three-year grant is for $324,000. The NASA New Investigator Program award acknowledges scientists and engineers who integrate research and education in Earth system sciences in the beginning stages of their professional careers.
In addition to defining a common language for studying mid-level clouds and assessing their role in climate studies, Nasiri will also use part of the grant to help schoolteachers supplement their curriculum. "I plan to make it easier for high school teachers to use NASA data to engage students in Earth science and climate studies," she says.
"Every school child learns about billowy cumulus and high, thin cirrus clouds, but middle clouds are often ignored. " If you see a cloud that looks like a space ship, it's probably a type of mid-level cloud called lenticular," says Nasiri.
A physics and math major as an undergraduate at the University of Denver, Nasiri completed her graduate work in atmospheric sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She came to Texas A&M in 2006. She teaches an introduction to meteorology course as well undergraduate and graduate courses in atmospheric physics. She currently manages two additional grants from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.
Karen Riedel | EurekAlert!
Stagnation in the South Pacific Explains Natural CO2 Fluctuations
23.02.2018 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals
22.02.2018 | University of Arizona
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy