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!
PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target
22.05.2018 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News