Climate researchers meet to simulate flight operations for storm cloud experiment

September 12, 2005

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Summertime in northern Australia means monsoon storms -- and plenty of them. Tall, turbulent clouds associated with these storm systems form rapidly, release their energy in the form of rain, then tail away, leaving in their wake a surplus of moisture to feed the next system. This lifecycle--the formation of tropical convective clouds, their outflow into cirrus clouds, and eventual dissipation into water vapor--is a key component of tropical climate. However, the cloud properties and the extent of their impact on the environment are not well understood or well represented in computer models that are used to simulate climate change.

This week, a team of more than 25 international cloud climate scientists are conducting a three-day operations and planning simulation at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, to prepare for a complex experiment that will result in the most detailed data sets ever collected for tropical convection. Led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment will take place in the region around Darwin, Australia, between January and February 2006.

Darwin is home to one of the ARM Program's permanent research sites, equipped with a sophisticated array of remote sensing instruments to collect the continuous measurements needed to improve computer models that simulate clouds and climate. The upcoming experiment will include an unprecedented network of ground-based instrumentation, a ship operating off the coast near Darwin, and a fleet of low-, middle- and high-altitude aircraft for in-situ and remote-sensing measurements. Aircraft measurements taken during the experiment will be valuable for validating and improving existing ground-based measurements from the ARM site in Darwin, as well as satellite observations obtained by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The operational complexity, not to mention the monsoon environment, makes the experiment a challenging undertaking, to say the least.

"After more than two years of planning for this experiment, we are nearing the operations phase," said Jim Mather, ARM's lead scientist for the experiment. The most challenging aspect of our operations will be coordinating multiple research aircraft during the complex monsoon season. Because our time in the field is so limited, this simulation exercise allows us to examine all aspects of the critical flight coordination process."

Each day of the simulation will involve weather briefings and mission planning to reflect actual field operations and flight scenarios during the experiment. The team is conducting a debriefing and critique at the end of each day to discuss any issues and identify needed changes to their planned situation analysis, decision processes, communications protocols, and procedure development.

In addition to the ARM Program and BOM, other key participants in the experiment include the ARM Unmanned Aerospace Vehicle (ARM-UAV) Program, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, NASA, and Airborne Research Australia. In addition, scientists from several universities in the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom are participating in the experiment. Both the Royal Australian Air Force and the Regional BOM Office will host the aircraft operations and be heavily involved in forecasting efforts.

"This is truly an international collaboration focused on climate change research," said Wanda Ferrell, ARM Program Manager for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. "When we agreed to fund the experiment, we were hopeful it would gain wide support. The number of collaborators has exceeded expectations, and the scientific commitment to the experiment is impressive. We are very optimistic about the progress made thus far, and are already looking forward to the results."

ARM scientists will use data from the experiment to improve computer models that simulate tropical climate by examining convective cloud systems from their initial stages through to the decay of the cirrus generated, and to measure their impact on the environment. Other scientific collaborators in the experiment will focus on measuring a variety of active chemical species transported by convection into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. These measurements will provide important information about the interaction of the troposphere and stratosphere and about chemical processes associated with ozone production and destruction.
-end-
The ARM Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Additional information about ARM Program science and the ARM Climate Research Facility is available at www.arm.gov.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Release and images are available at http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2005/gen-science/arm-tests.html

Sandia media contact: Mike Janes, mejanes@sandia.gov, (925) 294-2447

ARM contact: Lynne Roeder, lynne.roeder@pnl.gov, (509) 372-4331

Sandia National Laboratories' World Wide Web home page is located at http://www.sandia.gov. Sandia news releases, news tips, science photo gallery, and periodicals can be found at the News Center button.

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

Related Climate Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Climate Insights 2020: Climate opinions unchanged by pandemic, but increasingly entrenched
A new survey provides a snapshot of American opinion on climate change as the nation's public health, economy, and social identity are put to the test.

Climate action goes digital
More transparent and accessible to everyone: information and communication technologies bring opportunities for transforming traditional climate diplomacy.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

How aerosols affect our climate
Greenhouse gases may get more attention, but aerosols -- from car exhaust to volcanic eruptions -- also have a major impact on the Earth's climate.

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

How trees could save the climate
Around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions.

Climate undermined by lobbying
For all the evidence that the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases outweigh the costs of regulation, disturbingly few domestic climate change policies have been enacted around the world so far.

Climate education for kids increases climate concerns for parents
A new study from North Carolina State University finds that educating children about climate change increases their parents' concerns about climate change.

Read More: Climate News and Climate Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.