Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New clues to air circulation in the atmosphere

22.08.2008
Air circulates above the Earth in four distinct cells, with two either side of the equator, says new research out today (21 August) in Science.

The new observational study describes how air rises and falls in the atmosphere above the Earth’s surface, creating the world’s weather. This process of atmospheric circulation creates weather patterns and influences the climate of the planet. It is important to understand these processes in order to predict weather events, and to improve and test climate models.

Previous theories have claimed that there are just two large circular systems of air in the atmosphere, one either side of the equator. These theories suggested that air rises at the equator and then travels towards either the north or south polar regions, where it falls.

The new research suggests instead that there are two cells in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In the first cell, air rises at the equator and then falls in the subtropics. In the second cell, air rises in the mid-latitudes - approximately 30 to 60 degrees north and south of the equator – and then falls in the polar regions.

The researchers say that this second cell of rising air is a mechanism responsible for setting the distribution of temperature and winds in the mid-latitudes which has not been fully appreciated before. The mid-latitudes include the UK, Europe and most of the United States.

Dr Arnaud Czaja from Imperial College London’s Department of Physics and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, one of the authors of the new research, explains: “Our model suggests that there is a second cell of air in each hemisphere which is characterised by air rising, clouds forming, storms developing and other processes associated with moisture in the air occurring in the mid-latitudes.”

Current theories to describe weather patterns in the mid-latitudes do not take these moisture-based processes into consideration. Dr Czaja argues that these theories are therefore incomplete, and that water vapour plays as much of an important role in the weather systems of the mid-latitudes as it does in the tropics, where it is a well-documented driver of weather events.

The research team carried out their study by conducting new analyses of extensive meteorological data. Dr Czaja says that he hopes the research will lead to a more detailed understanding of how air circulation in our atmosphere works, and how it affects the weather:

“With more attention than ever before being focused on understanding our planet’s climate, weather systems and atmosphere, it’s important that scientists challenge their own assumptions and current theories of how these complex processes work. I think our study sheds new light on the driving forces behind the weather in the mid-latitudes,” Dr Czaja added.

Danielle Reeves | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

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 >>>