RETI 2012 Science Topics
RETI 2012 Science Topics
|Overview||Atmospheric Chemistry||Arctic Climate and Aerosols|
|The Colorado Headwaters Project||HIPPO and other Field Campaigns||Modeling||Paleoclimatology and Proxy Records|
As a result of the information you provided during the April 21st workshop at NCAR, we have lined up scientists for you to work with this summer. The current lineup includes a wealth of opportunities to explore different climate science topics. We have provided more information here on some of these projects than others due to scheduling – we are still in the process of meeting with some of the scientists to prepare them for their sessions with you, so we currently don’t have as much information for some of the topics/projects shown here as we do for others.
The scientists will talk to you as a group during the first week of RETI, and they have all agreed to meet with you for Q&A on several other occasions during July if you choose their research topic for integration into an educational module. Additional research opportunities may arise, but due to the importance of the summer season to field work, many scientists, though interested in working with you, are simply not available. Therefore, it is time to begin focusing your interests to take advantage of scientists we know can be there for RETI. We are very confident that working with these scientists and their projects will provide enjoyment, inspiration and intellectual challenge for you as science educators. You may choose whatever content topic(s) you want to address in your project, and for topics that aren't supported by the projects/scientists we've listed here, we'll do our best to point you towards resources at NCAR, elsewhere in the Boulder scientific community, and on the web.
Scientists from the Atmospheric Chemistry Division (ACD) at NCAR will provide an overview of their research and take you on a tour of several different ACD labs. The two main research areas in ACD are “Regional and Global Air Quality” and “Chemistry in the Climate System”. The scientists available to you will focus on the latter topic. Here’s an overview of their research in this area:
The goals are to understand the interactions between the physical climate system, the chemical climate system, and the biosphere. Priority is given:
- to the simulation of the recent past and future chemical climate states based on current climate simulations,
- to the identification and quantification of biogenic emissions to the atmosphere and their role in both air quality and the climate system, and
- to the study of the crucial roles of the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UTLS) and the middle atmosphere (MA) in the physical and chemical climate system.
In order to address these priorities ACD scientists:
- develop and update global chemical models that run within the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) framework and modify those to simulate past and future chemical states (including IPCC and WMO Ozone Assessment scenarios),
- organize and participate in laboratory and field studies of biogenic emissions in a variety of ecosystems,
- develop, deploy, and maintain ground based and airborne instrumentation required to study biogenic emissions,
- develop, deploy, and maintain airborne instrumentation required to understand photochemistry and aerosol formation/composition of the UTLS,
- organize and participate in field campaigns using HIAPER and other high altitude aircraft to study the UTLS region,
- develop and utilize spaceborne instruments to examine dynamics and chemistry in the UTLS and MA,
- develop and utilize process, regional, and global scale models to examine UTLS/MA dynamics and chemistry as well as to examine biogenic emissions and their impact on air quality and the climate system.
Jason English will be talking about his research in two areas:
- Aerosols and clouds, and how they relate to climate change
- The role of sea ice and polar regions in the climate system
Check out Jason's bio to learn a little more about his research. He joined a different group at NCAR this past year and is now studying Arctic sea ice, but this isn’t reflected in his bio.
Olga Wilhelmi is a project scientist in the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment at NCAR. Her research focuses on environment and society interactions; extreme weather and climate events; and the use of GIS in atmospheric sciences. She is particularly interested in combining quantitative and qualitative research methods in a GIS framework for assessing societal risk and vulnerability to extreme weather events and climate change. She's also the PI of the NCAR GIS Initiative and SIMMER (see below). Check out Olga's bio to learn more about her research.
The System for Integrated Modeling of Metropolitan Extreme Heat Risk (SIMMER) is a 3-year NASA funded research project based in NCAR’s Research Applications Laboratory (RAL). A brief description of SIMMER follows: Extreme heat is a leading cause of weather-related human mortality in the United States and in many countries worldwide. Despite the advances in meteorological forecasting capabilities and the widespread prevalence of air conditioning systems across the U.S., extreme heat persists as a threat to human health. As global warming patterns continue, researchers anticipate increases in the severity, frequency and duration of extreme heat events. Recent studies on climate impacts demonstrate that climate change will have differential consequences in the U.S. at the regional and local scales. Research priorities in public health and climate change science communities call for addressing the current impacts of weather hazards on human health, and for preparing for future risks and threats in a warmer climate. The SIMMER project addresses the critical need for information at regional to local scales that are pertinent to public health decision-making in the context of global change. The primary goals of the SIMMER project are to: 1) advance methodology for assessing current and future urban vulnerability from heat waves through integration of physical and social science models, research results, and NASA data; and 2) develop a System for Integrated Modeling of Metropolitan Extreme Heat Risk (SIMMER) for building local capacity for heat hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation in the public health sector.
The NCAR GIS Initiative supports a web portal intended to serve a community of GIS users interested in climate change. The free datasets of climate change projections can be viewed on-line and/or downloaded in a common GIS (shapefile) or text file format. Many 2D variables from modeled projected climate are available for the atmosphere and land surface. These climate change projections were generated by the NCAR Community Climate System Model, or CCSM, for the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The web site provides climate change projections that can be viewed by people with no GIS skills as .pdf documents for the purpose of analysis. Some of these images may be of interest to RETI teachers developing educational modules.
The Colorado Headwaters Project was initiated in the Spring of 2008 as a project within the NCAR Research Applications Laboratory's Water System program. It is focused on assessing the impact of climate change on winter precipitation, snowpack and runoff processes in Colorado's headwater basins using a very high resolution fully coupled atmospheric–hydrologic model. This work is collaborative with NCAR and researchers from the University of Vienna, George Mason University, and the University of Texas. A team of scientists from a variety of disciplines such as atmospheric science, hydrometeorology, climate and regional modeling, land–surface modeling, and social science will collaborate to investigate the following questions:
- How high should model resolution be for the regional climate model to accurately simulate seasonal snowfall and snowpack in the Colorado Headwaters regions?
- Will the predicted increase in snowfall (caused by a warmer, moister climate) be enough to offset the accelerated melting and sublimation due to warmer temperatures?
- If so, will the increase in snowfall be sufficient to maintain river flow at current levels?
Results from four six–month high–resolution WRF simulations were compared with the SNOwpack TELemetry (SNOTEL) data. The results showed that the model properly simulated seasonal snowfall. However, the model underestimated snowpack. The onset and amount of melting and sublimation of the snowpack depends on several factors such as terrain features, land surface type, and shadowing effect. Thus, snowpack simulation is sensitive to physics and parameterizations used in the land surface model. The team is working on improving the land–surface model to accurately simulate snowmelt/snowpack.
The aim of HIPPO (HIAPER Pole-to-Pole) is to study the global carbon cycle as well as other trace gases attributing to climate change. HIPPO is unique in that it is the first time that vertical profiles of the atmosphere have been studied from pole to pole. RETI participants will have access to released data sets from HIPPO and we’ll hear from a few HIPPO scientists about their research: Anne Perring and her studies of black carbon and Dave Fahey and his studies of trace gases and aerosols in the atmosphere and ozone depletion.
In addition to HIPPO, RETI teachers will have the option to review findings from other recent field campaigns, and to learn about upcoming campaigns:
- PREDICT: Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics, took place in fall 2010, studied the developmental stages of hurricanes.
- DYNAMO: Dynamics of the Madden Julian Oscillation, took place in 2011-2012 and studied the initiation of the Madden-Julian Oscillation.
- DC3: Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry, taking place in May-June 2012, investigating the impact of large-scale thunderstorm on upper tropospheric composition and chemistry.
- SEAC4RS: Southeast Asia Composition, Cloud, Climate Coupling Regional Study, will take place in August-September 2012, addressing key questions regarding the influence of Asian emissions on clouds, climate, and air quality as well as fundamental satellite observability of the system.
RETI teachers will also visit the Research Applications Facility (RAF) to view a few of the aircraft used in field campaigns. This will provide an opportunity to learn more about the instrumentation, as well as to discuss the research with some of the available scientists.
There are numerous resources at NCAR which RETI teachers can access in order to incorporate modeling into new educational modules. This is a difficult topic to target, due to the many ways in which the word "modeling" may be used or perceived. For example, one may be thinking about global climate modeling on spatial and temporal scales such as the model runs for the highly publicized IPCC 4th Assessment Report published in 2008. There are also climate models that can be run "backwards" through time to represent paleoclimate.
Efforts are underway to increase the resolution of climate models to simulate regional climate impacts on much smaller grid and time scales. NCAR has been a leader in developing increasingly refined Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) models which simulate meso- to micro-scale meteorological phenomena. They may be used to predict the path of a hurricane or to explore the amounts of rain or snow deposited over simple (e.g., prairie) versus complex terrain (e.g., the Rocky Mountains).
Some of you may be thinking of a model as an interactive educational tool that allows students to manipulate (experiment with) a variable (e.g., atmospheric temperature) on specific time steps over a defined space, such as elevation in the atmosphere. In each of these cases, models can be compared with observations for the purpose of verification and identification of new, intriguing scientific questions.
Each of the research projects you will learn about this summer are examples of cutting edge climate research and career niches which integrate advanced modeling techniques and ingeniously engineered observational methods. They may also involve the "coupling" of different kinds of models, and, therefore, the collaboration of scientists from many different disciplines in physical, social, and biological sciences – providing a transect of the "spheres" in Earth's climate system. In addition to learning about climate modeling through the projects presented to you, Dennis Shea, from the Climate Analysis Section of NCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics Division will be available to work with you on incorporating model data into your modules.
Toby Ault from NCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics Division will share information about paleoclimatology and proxy records, including information on corals, tree rings, and ice cores.
Scientists at NCAR are involved in research including the following paleoclimate topics:
- Using computer-based models of Earth's climate to investigate past climate change and climate variability across a wide range of time scales, particularly involving climate change forced naturally over the glacial-interglacial cycles of the last million years.
- The diagnostics of observed climate variability of the polar regions, especially in terms of past climate records from natural archives such as ice cores
- Climate variability and climate change in Antarctica over the past 100 years and into the future
- Ice core records combined with climate modeling and observational records from around the globe to better understand:
- How Antarctic climate is connected with the rest of the world through phenomena such as El Nino and global warming
- The evidence for, and forcing mechanisms of, recent Antarctic climate change
- The performance of global climate models in the Antarctic, especially in terms of sea level rise
- Antarctic climate variability on interannual and multidecadal timescales