A unifying physics principle that describes design in nature predicts, in surprisingly straightforward fashion, the basic features of global circulation and climate, according to researchers at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering and the University of Evora in Portugal. They said the new approach to climate may have important implications for forecasting environmental change.
The researchers found that the "constructal theory" can predict the global circulation that determines the boundaries between desert and tropical forests as well as between temperate zones and the poles. Based only on the optimal flow of heat from the sun, the theory also predicts other climate characteristics, such as average wind speed and the average temperature difference between night and day.
The findings may lead to a new understanding of the factors that drive global circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean, the researchers said. The theory might also prove useful for predicting the consequences of environmental change -- such as shifts in the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases -- for broad weather patterns, they said.
Kendall Morgan | EurekAlert!
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