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 GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

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,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

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...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>