Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sharpest Measurement Of Ice Crystals In Clouds Ever Will Help In Climate Modeling

Date:
July 20, 2008
Source:
Optical Society of America
Summary:
Scientists have created an instrument designed to help determine the shapes and sizes of tiny ice crystals typical of those found in high-altitude clouds, down to the micron level (comparable to the tiniest cells in the human body), according to a new study. The data produced using this instrument likely will help improve computer models used to predict climate change.

Scientists have created an instrument designed to help determine the shapes and sizes of tiny ice crystals typical of those found in high-altitude clouds, down to the micron level (comparable to the tiniest cells in the human body), according to a new study. The data produced using this instrument likely will help improve computer models used to predict climate change.

Related Articles


Among the hundreds of factors climate scientists must take into account in modeling weather, the nature of clouds is one of the most important and least understood. The best researchers could do in the past to measure cloud ice crystals was to try to record images of them, but for crystals below 25 microns, the images were too blurred to allow accurate determination of the crystal's shape.

Researchers need to know the shape and sizes of these ice crystals because these properties influence how much incoming sunlight gets absorbed in the atmosphere and how much gets reflected right back out into space. This, in turn, can have a huge impact on the magnitude of possible global warming or cooling.

Now scientists from the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and Colorado State University in the United States have developed an optical scattering instrument that can evaluate the size of the crystals in a different way. Using this instrument, the researchers have been able to determine sizes and shapes of cloud ice crystals all the way down to the tiniest micron levels.

The research team actually has built two versions of the instrument: one designed to operate on ground-based cloud simulation chambers or to operate in the fuselage of research aircraft; the other, an aerodynamic version that fits under the wing of the aircraft and measures the cloud particles directly as the aircraft flies through the cloud. Neither instrument attempts to make a full image of the ice crystal, since this would suffer the same resolution limits of existing instruments. Instead they record the detailed pattern of scattered light from each individual crystal and then interpret these patterns using either theoretical models or by comparison with recorded patterns from known crystal shapes. From this data a crystal census of varying sizes and shapes can be made.

"The new instruments should help map out a more complete understanding of complex crystal shapes found in atmospheric clouds, especially cirrus clouds, which on any day can cover more than 20 percent of the Earth's surface," says one of the researchers, Hertfordshire scientist Paul Kaye. "We believe that this optical scattering instrument could help climate modelers reduce one of the greatest areas of uncertainty in interpreting the influence of clouds and in making more accurate climate predictions."

In addition, recent reports have examined the effect that pollution and the clouds caused by pollution have on reducing solar radiation reaching the ground, a development that may counterbalance global warming to some extent, and this new technology could help scientists better monitor and understand this situation.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Kaye et al. Classifying atmospheric ice crystals by spatial light scattering. Optics Letters, 2008; 33 (13): 1545 DOI: 10.1364/OL.33.001545

Cite This Page:

Optical Society of America. "Sharpest Measurement Of Ice Crystals In Clouds Ever Will Help In Climate Modeling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717134523.htm>.
Optical Society of America. (2008, July 20). Sharpest Measurement Of Ice Crystals In Clouds Ever Will Help In Climate Modeling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717134523.htm
Optical Society of America. "Sharpest Measurement Of Ice Crystals In Clouds Ever Will Help In Climate Modeling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717134523.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) For the second time in two months, a rare weather phenomenon filled the Grand Canyon with thick clouds just below the rim on Wednesday. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 29, 2015) Time lapse video captures a blanket of clouds amassing in the Grand Canyon -- the result of a rare meteorological process called "cloud inversion." Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. 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


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