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
Tracing aromatic molecules in the early universe
23.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
New study maps space dust in 3-D
23.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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