U.S. Energy Department Opens Climate Research

November 19, 1998

On November 20, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will dedicate a long-term, climate research station on Nauru in the Central Pacific Ocean. The station is the second of three sites being developed in the Tropical Western Pacific by the Energy Department's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program. The first station has been operating on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea since October 1996. Like the Manus station, the Nauru facility will collect information needed to better understand climate change, focusing on the way the sun's energy is transmitted, absorbed and reflected in the tropics and on the role of clouds in heating and cooling the atmosphere. Attending the dedication ceremony will be Energy Department officials, scientists involved in the site installation and Nauru dignitaries.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson congratulated the ARM staff and the Nauru Department of Island Development and Industry, which are collaborating on the installation, saying, "Climate change is an important priority for the Clinton administration. DOE staff have been working hard with the people of Nauru to install this facility, and the data collected there will help refine models that predict global climate change. With enhanced understanding, nations will be able to develop appropriate policies to respond to the worldwide challenge of climate change."

Nauru was chosen for the field measurement site because, under normal conditions, it is located on the eastern edge of the Pacific "warm pool." The area consistently produces the warmest sea surface temperatures in the world and also generates many cumulus and cirrus cloud systems, which can either cool or heat the atmosphere. Data gathered on Nauru will help improve the understanding of the relationship between clouds and the sun's incoming and outgoing energy in the tropics.

The instruments installed on Nauru are housed in rugged, customized sea containers, designed to provide long-term, basic climatological observations. Each facility operates semi-autonomously and has an integrated set of instruments that measure surface radiation balance, surface meteorology, cloud properties, and limited atmospheric properties. Some data are transmitted hourly to the United States via satellite. More detailed data are collected and stored on magnetic tapes, which are periodically shipped to the ARM Experiment Center at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for processing.

ARM's Tropical Western Pacific locale spans an area roughly between 10°S and 10°N latitude and 135°E and 150°W longitude. The area is characterized by warm sea temperatures, deep and frequent atmospheric convection, high rain rates, strong coupling between the atmosphere and ocean, and substantial variability associated with El Niño. Nauru is the second ARM installation in the tropics. DOE would like to establish a third facility on Kiritimati Island in 2000. Each station is slated to continuously collect data for at least ten years.

The ARM Program also has large, continuously operating climate research facilities in two other important climate regimes: the North Slope of Alaska site near Barrow, Alaska, and the U.S. Southern Great Plains site in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas.

The ARM research program is DOE's largest contribution to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The ARM program focuses on: understanding the way the sun's energy is transmitted, absorbed, and released by the Earth's atmosphere; the effect of particles, such as dust, chemicals and water vapor, on these radiative processes; and the role of clouds in heating and cooling of the atmosphere. Data from the ARM program are used to improve models that predict climate change.
News Media Contacts:
Jeff Sherwood (DOE), 202-586-5806
Kathryn Lang (ARM Public Information), 509-375-3837

Additional information on the ARM program, including photos and maps from Nauru, is available on the Internet at www.arm.gov .

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Related Climate Change 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.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

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.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

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.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change 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.