By learning more about the microscopic structure and physics of clouds, scientists are now better able to predict how the climate will respond. This research has been carried out as part of a major programme, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), to determine what impact ice clouds have on the Earth’s climate system.
For the first time the scientists have shown that, within larger clouds, there are layers of super-cooled water cloud at temperatures as low as –30°C. These layers are not currently represented in weather and climate prediction models, but they are an important factor in determining whether the heat radiation is reflected back or allowed to pass through the cloud.
Research also shows that within the thin and wispy cirrus clouds that form from ice crystals high in the atmosphere, there are various concentrations of crystal numbers and shapes within different ‘regions’ of each cloud.
Programme leader, Professor Tom Choularton from the University of Manchester, explains why this is important. “The regions with small numbers of large crystals are relatively transparent and allow light through, whereas areas with an abundance of very small crystals scatter the incoming light. These differences have a huge effect on the amount of sunlight actually reaching the ground.”
A research team based at Imperial College, London, has developed a new instrument to measure the radiative properties of both ice clouds and clear air. They designed it for use on scientific aircraft and headed for Darwin in Northern Australia to observe the far infrared (very long wavelength) radiative properties of the skies around deep convective tropical storm regions.
Professor Choularton says,” This important work is still underway. We aim to link these measurements with the information we now know about the size, number and shape of ice crystals in clouds. The results will help us to test how well the effects of these clouds are represented in climate prediction and weather forecasting models.”
This research is just some of the exciting atmospheric science being showcased at a conference in London on Tuesday 23 January. ‘Our Changing Atmosphere’ highlights the work from four major research programmes to increase our understanding of the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere, and to quantify the effect of greenhouse gases on climate and air quality. NERC has invested £20 million in the four programmes.
Marion O'Sullivan | alfa
Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
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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...
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...
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,...
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