Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modern Physics Is Critical To Global Warming Research

Date:
March 14, 2008
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Science has come a long way with predicting climate. Increasingly sophisticated models and instruments can zero in on a specific storm formation or make detailed weather forecasts -- all useful to our daily lives. But to understand global climate change, scientists need more than just a one-day forecast. They need a deeper understanding of the complex and interrelated forces that shape climate. Physicists now make the case that statistical physics can provide a better understanding of global weather patterns -- information critical for more accurately predicting climate change.

Science has come a long way with predicting climate. Increasingly sophisticated models and instruments can zero in on a specific storm formation or make detailed weather forecasts -- all useful to our daily lives. But to understand global climate change, scientists need more than just a one-day forecast. They need a deeper understanding of the complex and interrelated forces that shape climate.

Related Articles


This is where modern physics can help, argues Brad Marston, professor of physics at Brown University. Marston is working on sets of equations that can be used to more accurately explain climate patterns. He makes the case that statistical physics can provide a better understanding of global weather patterns -- information critical for more accurately predicting climate change.

"Climate is a statement about the statistics of weather, not the day-to-day or minute-by-minute fluctuations," Marston said. "That's really the driving concept. We know we can't predict the weather more than a couple of weeks out. But we can turn that to our advantage, by using statistical physics to look directly at the climate itself."

Take the drying of Lake Mead in the western United States. Scientists think the lake, which straddles Nevada and Arizona, may already be getting less rain due to shifting weather patterns caused by a warming world. Computer models can follow those rainfall patterns and forecast the likely effects on the lake. But current models obscure the larger mechanisms -- such as shifting storm tracks -- that can drive changes in rainfall.

"If we're just mesmerized by the details of the model," Marston said, "we could be missing the big picture of why it's happening."

Marston's statistical approach can be used to help crack the code of complicated, dynamic atmospheric processes poorly understood through models, such as convection, cloud formation, and macroturbulence, which refers to the currents, swirls and eddies in the global atmosphere. More fundamentally, Marston said this approach can help to deepen understanding of what is happening in today's climate and what those changes can mean for climate in the future.

"We're trying to make the models more robust, to give better insights into what is actually going on," he said.

Marston's research, on which he teamed with former Brown undergraduate Emily Conover and Tapio Schneider of the California Institute of Technology, was selected last fall for publication in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. Marston's ultimate research goal is to create a more realistic rendering of the global atmospheric system that can be used to understand the atmosphere of the past and to gauge future changes.

"We're improving the statistical methods themselves, so that they're more accurate," Marston said. "At the same time we are applying the methods to progressively more complete models of the Earth's atmosphere."

Marston will explain his research as part of a panel discussion titled "The Physics of Climate and Climate Change," scheduled on March 11, 2008, at the American Physical Society's meeting in New Orleans.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Modern Physics Is Critical To Global Warming Research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311130811.htm>.
Brown University. (2008, March 14). Modern Physics Is Critical To Global Warming Research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311130811.htm
Brown University. "Modern Physics Is Critical To Global Warming Research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311130811.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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