Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists use meteors to investigate climate change and giant waves at the ‘edge of space’

23.05.2005


A new research radar based in Antarctica is giving scientists the chance to study the highest layer of the earth’s atmosphere at the very edge of space.



Using the new radar, scientists will be able to investigate climate change and explore the theory that while the lower atmosphere is warming, the upper atmosphere is cooling by as much as 1 degree Centigrade each year.

They will also be able to find out more about the complex waves, tides and other mechanisms that link this region - known as the mesosphere - to the lower regions of the atmosphere.


At heights of around 80-100km (50-62 miles) the mesosphere is notoriously difficult to investigate and is the least-explored part of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The low air pressure at this altitude means that it is impossible to fly aircraft in the mesosphere and even the huge weather balloons that are used to measure stratospheric ozone cannot climb high enough to reach this altitude.

Satellites begin to burn up when they enter the mesosphere, so the new radar - just installed at the Rothera research base in Antarctica in a joint project between the University of Bath and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - will help scientists explore the region using remote sensing.

“Fortunately, nature provides us with an excellent answer to the problem of investigating the mesosphere,” said Professor Nick Mitchell who heads the project in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath.

“Meteors, or ‘shooting stars’, burn up in the mesosphere. The meteors drift just like weather balloons so we can use a radar on the Earth and bounce radio waves off the meteors to find how fast they are moving and so measure the winds at the edge of space.

“The fading of the radio echoes from the meteors also lets us measure the temperature of the atmosphere. We can detect thousands of meteors in any one day and with this information study the waves and tides that flow around the planet on a continuous basis.

“The mesosphere has been called the miner’s canary for climate change; meaning that it is very sensitive and the changes there may be larger than in any other part of the atmosphere.

“Evidence of these changes comes from sightings of noctilucent clouds, very unusual clouds seen only in polar regions and known to be in the mesosphere. These clouds don’t seem to have been observed before 1885 and may mark the onset of a long-term cooling of the upper atmosphere”.

The researchers hope to use this temperature data to see if the effects of climate change are present in the upper atmosphere.

The radar is the latest element in a global array of radars being installed by the University of Bath group. It will be used in tandem with an identical radar at Kiruna, inside the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden, to find out if there are any differences between the Arctic and Antarctic upper atmosphere.

“We know that there are big differences lower down in the atmosphere, for instance in the stratosphere the ozone hole is much larger over the Antarctic than over the Arctic, but we don’t really know what the differences are like higher up,” said Professor Mitchell.

First results from the radar show that it is detecting about 5,000 meteors ever day. Analysis at the University of Bath has revealed frigid temperatures in the mesosphere, the lowest temperatures of about -130ºC, paradoxically occurring at midsummer.

The Rothera radar has been installed by Dr Peter Younger, a postdoctoral researcher from the University assisted by colleagues from BAS.

The radar is made of six antennas about 2 metres high set up over a space the size of a football pitch. The site itself is a rocky beach on the edge of Marguerite Bay – a landscape of icebergs, penguins and seals. Dr Younger has just returned to the UK having spent two months on the installation.

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/pr/releases/antarcticradar.htm

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>