Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists use meteors to investigate climate change and giant waves at the ‘edge of space’

23.05.2005


A new research radar based in Antarctica is giving scientists the chance to study the highest layer of the earth’s atmosphere at the very edge of space.



Using the new radar, scientists will be able to investigate climate change and explore the theory that while the lower atmosphere is warming, the upper atmosphere is cooling by as much as 1 degree Centigrade each year.

They will also be able to find out more about the complex waves, tides and other mechanisms that link this region - known as the mesosphere - to the lower regions of the atmosphere.


At heights of around 80-100km (50-62 miles) the mesosphere is notoriously difficult to investigate and is the least-explored part of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The low air pressure at this altitude means that it is impossible to fly aircraft in the mesosphere and even the huge weather balloons that are used to measure stratospheric ozone cannot climb high enough to reach this altitude.

Satellites begin to burn up when they enter the mesosphere, so the new radar - just installed at the Rothera research base in Antarctica in a joint project between the University of Bath and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - will help scientists explore the region using remote sensing.

“Fortunately, nature provides us with an excellent answer to the problem of investigating the mesosphere,” said Professor Nick Mitchell who heads the project in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath.

“Meteors, or ‘shooting stars’, burn up in the mesosphere. The meteors drift just like weather balloons so we can use a radar on the Earth and bounce radio waves off the meteors to find how fast they are moving and so measure the winds at the edge of space.

“The fading of the radio echoes from the meteors also lets us measure the temperature of the atmosphere. We can detect thousands of meteors in any one day and with this information study the waves and tides that flow around the planet on a continuous basis.

“The mesosphere has been called the miner’s canary for climate change; meaning that it is very sensitive and the changes there may be larger than in any other part of the atmosphere.

“Evidence of these changes comes from sightings of noctilucent clouds, very unusual clouds seen only in polar regions and known to be in the mesosphere. These clouds don’t seem to have been observed before 1885 and may mark the onset of a long-term cooling of the upper atmosphere”.

The researchers hope to use this temperature data to see if the effects of climate change are present in the upper atmosphere.

The radar is the latest element in a global array of radars being installed by the University of Bath group. It will be used in tandem with an identical radar at Kiruna, inside the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden, to find out if there are any differences between the Arctic and Antarctic upper atmosphere.

“We know that there are big differences lower down in the atmosphere, for instance in the stratosphere the ozone hole is much larger over the Antarctic than over the Arctic, but we don’t really know what the differences are like higher up,” said Professor Mitchell.

First results from the radar show that it is detecting about 5,000 meteors ever day. Analysis at the University of Bath has revealed frigid temperatures in the mesosphere, the lowest temperatures of about -130ºC, paradoxically occurring at midsummer.

The Rothera radar has been installed by Dr Peter Younger, a postdoctoral researcher from the University assisted by colleagues from BAS.

The radar is made of six antennas about 2 metres high set up over a space the size of a football pitch. The site itself is a rocky beach on the edge of Marguerite Bay – a landscape of icebergs, penguins and seals. Dr Younger has just returned to the UK having spent two months on the installation.

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/pr/releases/antarcticradar.htm

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>