New research may bring about better climate models for global warmingDecember 9th, 2007 - 4:57 pm ICT by admin
Washington, Dec 9 (ANI): A new research known as VOCALS may be helpful in the development of better climate models for global warming.
One hundred fifty scientists from more than 40 universities in nine countries are starting a coordinated program which is targeted as gaining new insights about the Earth’s climate and the complex, interconnected system involving the oceans, the atmosphere and the land.
The program, called VOCALS (VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study), is chaired by UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences C. Roberto Mechoso.
This program will be studying the southeastern Pacific Ocean, the marine area off South America’s west coast.
This region is the place where the interplay among low clouds, strong low-level winds, coastal ocean currents, surfacing of deep water, the Andes Mountains, aerosols and other factors shaping the regional climate and affect global weather in ways that have not been properly understood.
“Our research should produce a better understanding of the southeast Pacific Ocean system and improve our global computer climate models, which would lead to more confidence in climate forecasts, including predictions about global warming,” said Mechoso.
He added: “Models currently used for climate change studies have systematic errors concerning the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and because the models are not accurate for such an extensive area, the El Ninos they produce in the Pacific are questionable as well. We hope our research will get rid of, or at least greatly decrease, these uncertainties.”
Rainfall and temperature worldwide is affected directly or indirectly by variations in the southeast Pacific climate.
According to Mechoso, how the system works is not well understood and therefore cannot be modeled or predicted accurately.
“Despite its great importance to the Earth’s climate system, the ocean-cloud-atmosphere-land system in the southeast Pacific has been sparsely observed. With VOCALS, that will change drastically,said Mechoso.
VOCALS has a scientific modeling program, headed by Mechoso, which aims to improve model reproductions of key climate processes, and an experimental field component, headed by Robert Wood, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.
This intensive experimental field program will measure using four aircraft and two research ships containing scientific instruments how thick and deep the clouds are, where and why they open, and a variety of other elements to answer key scientific questions related to the climate system of the southeast Pacific region.
One ship is from the United States, the other is from Peru; the scientists expect another ship from either Chile or Ecuador.
“There is tremendous analysis and modeling work that will go along with the field project,” Mechoso said.
VOCALS, with a budget of more than $16 million, will continue for three to five years, beginning in January 2008. The field program will begin in October 2008 off the coasts of Chile and Peru.
“I believe we have the right questions and the right hypotheses to guide our work. We will learn how the southeastern Pacific Ocean system works and find out ways to improve the performance of our climate models, said Mechoso.
Mechoso’s own research project within VOCALS, in collaboration with the National Center for Environmental Prediction, aims to improve the model that is used by the United States for seasonal climate prediction.
Mechoso was the first chair of this panel of the World Climate Research Program, which identified the eastern Pacific as an area where improvement in climate models is essential.
The scientists in VOCALS are also trying to find out more about the role of aerosol in cloud behavior and climate.
“The role of aerosol in climate is very complex and we are working very hard to capture aerosol effects in climate models,” Mechoso said.
Radiation from the sun can be directly influenced by the particles in the atmosphere, but they can also have indirect influences on solar radiation by affecting cloud formation.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore) has emphasized the need to reduce the overall uncertainty in the calculation of climate-forcing by aerosol. (ANI)
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