Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The secret life of clouds...and other research

19.01.2007
Clouds can be a headache for meteorologists preparing weather forecasts and for scientists trying to predict how climates will change. Clouds can trap heat from the Earth or reflect heat radiation from the sun back into space, changing the way the climate behaves.

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
Further information:
http://www.nerc.ac.uk
http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/areas/atmospheric/events/meeting.asp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>