Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Use Meteors To Investigate Climate Change And Giant Waves At 'Edge Of Space'

Date:
July 6, 2005
Source:
University of Bath
Summary:
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.

Dr. Pete Younger installing the new radar.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Bath

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.

Related Articles


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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bath. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bath. "Scientists Use Meteors To Investigate Climate Change And Giant Waves At 'Edge Of Space'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050706003830.htm>.
University of Bath. (2005, July 6). Scientists Use Meteors To Investigate Climate Change And Giant Waves At 'Edge Of Space'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050706003830.htm
University of Bath. "Scientists Use Meteors To Investigate Climate Change And Giant Waves At 'Edge Of Space'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050706003830.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

AP (Mar. 2, 2015) — SpaceX launched it&apos;s 16th Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday night. The rocket was carrying two commercial communications satellites. (March 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: SMAP Launch

NASA EDGE: SMAP Launch

NASA (Mar. 2, 2015) — Join NASA EDGE as they cover the launch of the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft live from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Special guests include NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, SMAP Project System Engineer Shawn Goodman and Lt Col Brande Walton and Joseph Sims from the Air Force.  No word on the Co-Host&apos;s whereabouts. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) — NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) — Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins