Global warming is back on the agenda with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set to release its latest scientific report on 2 February. Hints and leaks from scientists on the panel suggest that the IPCC will have strengthened its conclusions, previously stated in 2001, that humans are heating up the Earth.
While most scientists probably share this view, there are some who think otherwise. Many of those are either scientifically ill-informed or have dubious links with the energy industry. But one bona fide sceptic is Richard Lindzen, a climate physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was involved in preparing the IPCC's 2001 report. (p. 12)
Although Lindzen does not dispute that the Earth is getting hotter, he argues - in an interview with Physics World - that the warming is, in all probability, largely the result of natural variations in the Earth's climate. He believes that computer models of the Earth's climate, although rooted in the laws of physics, contain far too many uncertainties. Indeed, John Mitchell - the chief scientist of the UK's Meteorological Office - and colleagues describe how hard it is incorporate the impact of clouds into such climate models elsewhere in this issue of Physics World. They warn that if the clouds were modelled incorrectly, climate simulations "would be seriously in error". (p. 20)
Nevertheless, the balance of evidence does suggest that carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere is having a significant warming effect. It is therefore right and prudent to limit greenhouse gas emissions as a way of dealing with the causes of climate change. However a small band of researchers is proposing various outlandish schemes to deal with the effects of climate change - an approach known as "geoengineering". As Physics World reports, these include pumping vast quantities of sulphur into the atmosphere to act as a huge Sun block, sending solar reflectors or even painting the roads white. (p. 10)Also in this issue:
Helen MacBain | alfa
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
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,...
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...
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...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy