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 Stagnation in the South Pacific Explains Natural CO2 Fluctuations
23.02.2018 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

nachricht First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals
22.02.2018 | University of Arizona

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

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...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

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...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

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...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

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...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>