Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Duke Engineers Creating ’More Refined’ Global Climate Model

18.09.2002


Frustrated by the limitations of present numerical models that simulate how Earth’s climate will be altered by factors such as pollution and landscape modification, Duke University engineers are creating a new model incorporating previously-missing regional and local processes.



"The model we are developing is much more refined," said the project’s leader, Roni Avissar, chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

Unlike previous designs now used by the world’s climatologists, Avissar said Duke’s model will have a "telescoping capability" to zoom in from global conditions to more localized ones in areas as small as parts of individual states like North Carolina.


The Duke design can thus, for example, model the far-reaching impacts of individual thunderstorms. "These local storms are not very big in size but are extremely powerful in affecting the global atmosphere," he said in an interview. "The current climate models have no capability to simulate those things."

Avissar (http://www.cee.duke.edu/faculty/avissar_r/index.html) currently heads a scientific steering group in charge of advising federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about research shortcomings in the area of the "global water cycle."

The global water cycle is the term scientists use to describe how water gets distributed around the planet through a cycle of evaporation, transport and precipitation. Pound for pound, water vapor is a more powerful heat-trapping "greenhouse gas" than the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, according to experts.

Avissar, previously the chairman of Rutgers University’s Department of Environmental Sciences, and founding director of Rutgers’ Center for Environmental Prediction, has done extensive studies on the roles of water and other environmental factors on climate in tropical forests such as the Amazon.

"From a global water point of view, that’s where the action is," he said of the tropics. "You modify the water cycle there, and it going to affect the entire planet."

In the tropics as well as in Earth’s more temperate zones, thunderstorms provide a key influence on water distribution and weather, Avissar said. For instance, the alteration of worldwide rainfall patterns observed during El Nino events are triggered by "an increase in thunderstorm activity as a result of an unusual sea-surface temperature warming in the Pacific," he said.

Yet thunderstorms are too small and localized to be included in current global climate models, which work on scales so large that an entire state is represented by just "one point" in huge worldwide grid, he noted.

By contrast, Duke’s new Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Model -- abbreviated OLAM -- works on multiple scales. "By using a numerical trick to modify the grid that we use to simulate the planet, we have the capability to go to a small grid to simulate those thunderstorms," he said. "And we can understand globally their impact much better.

"So it has this telescoping capability from one scale to the other, to represent the entire planet as well as have a focus on a given region. If you want to work regionally, you can. If you want to work globally, you can do that too. Or you can work with both of them simultaneously."

OLAM -- which also means "world" in the original language of the Old Testament, Avissar said -- was designed by Robert Walko, a master programmer and senior scientist at the Pratt School.

Both men were post-doctoral researchers at Colorado State University, where Walko designed and developed the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System, one of the most widely-used current models for regions the size of the Southwestern or Northeastern United States. They later worked together at Rutgers, and now at Duke.

Another key factor in OLAM’s development is a powerful "Beowulf Cluster" of computers -- a linked group of desktop computers that collectively can serve as a substitute for a mainframe supercomputer. That cluster is among several now working around the clock at the Pratt School and elsewhere at Duke.

While the OLAM project is mostly a product of the Pratt School’s civil and environmental engineering department, other research groups are also contributing to the model. For instance, a "vegetation dynamics" model developed by a group now at Harvard, which simulates the growth and senescence of vegetation communities and their interactions with soils, water and climate, will soon be merged with "the fluid dynamics components of the planetary model that we already have," he said.

The Pratt School project has also developed a partnership with ATMET, a small private Colorado company formed by Avissar, Walko and another researcher that does meteorological and climatological forecasting.

ATMET "is probably going to use this model for come commercial applications that are cannot be performed in a university environment," Avissar added. "Let’s say that you want to forecast how cold the next winter will be because that affects the coffee market."

Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>