Electric Sparks May Alter Lunar Soil
The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by Univ. of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon’s coldest craters through the process of sparking. This find could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.
The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon’s frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this “breakdown weathering” process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon’s polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system’s past, may be more active than previously thought.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/electric-sparks-may-alter-lunar-soil
Dusty air blowing across the Pacific from Asia and Africa plays a critical role in precipitation patterns throughout the drought-stricken western U.S. Today, a scientist is presenting new research suggesting that the exact chemical make-up of that dust, including microbes found in it, is the key to how much rain and snow falls from clouds throughout the region. This information could help better predict rain events, as well as explain how air pollution from a variety of sources influences regional climate in general.
She will present a talk on how aerosols impact clouds and climate at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/dust-chemistry-influences-rain-climate
Forecasters Add Layers to Storm Warnings
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has said it will add two threat levels to its weather outlooks so people aren’t surprised by really bad storms on days with just a “slight risk” of tornadoes, hail or high winds.
Beginning Oct. 22, forecasters can say whether slight risk days are “enhanced” or “marginal” or just plain “slight.” Other categories remain, including “high” and “moderate.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/forecasters-add-layers-storm-warnings
Two outpost offices of the National Weather Service in Alaska are finally ending what has been a bygone practice for most of the nation for almost two decades — using real human voices in radio forecast broadcasts.
The Nome and Kodiak offices are switching to computerized voices that nationally go by the names of Tom, Donna and, in some parts of the country, Spanish-speaking Javier. It’s an idea first hatched in the mid-1990s as part of a move to modernize the weather service, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/computers-replace-humans-announcing-weather
Researchers: No Limits to Human Impact on Clouds
Understanding how clouds affect the climate has been a difficult proposition. What controls the makeup of the low clouds that cool the atmosphere or the high ones that trap heat underneath? How does human activity change patterns of cloud formation? Now, the research of the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ilan Koren suggests we may be nudging cloud formation in the direction of added area and height. He and his team have analyzed a unique type of cloud formation; their findings, which appeared recently in Science indicate that in pre-industrial times, there was less cloud cover over areas of pristine ocean than is found there today.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/researchers-no-limits-human-impact-clouds
Drones Used as Hurricane Research Tools
The point where the roiling ocean meets the fury of a hurricane’s winds may hold the key to improving storm intensity forecasts — but it’s nearly impossible for scientists to see.
That may change this summer, thanks to post-Hurricane Sandy federal funding and a handful of winged drones that can spend hours spiraling in a hurricane’s dark places, transmitting data that could help forecasters understand what makes some storms fizzle while others strengthen into monsters. Knowing that information while a storm is still far offshore could help emergency managers better plan for evacuations or storm surge risks.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/drones-used-hurricane-research-tools
Fingers Crossed: NOAA Predicts Slow Hurricane Season
Federal forecasters are expected to predict a slower than usual hurricane season this year.
Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gathered in New York today to release the agency’s outlook for the six-month storm season that officially begins June 1. Colorado State Univ. researchers have forecast nine named storms in 2014, with just three expected to become hurricanes and one major storm with winds over 110 mph.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/fingers-crossed-noaa-predicts-slow-hurricane-season
Fears of Tornados Rouse Interest in Shelters
Last year’s tornado season wasn’t the worst in Oklahoma history, either in the number of twisters or the number of lives taken.
But the deadly barrage that killed more than 30 people scared Oklahomans in a way that previous storms had not, moving them to add tornado shelters or reinforced safe rooms to their homes.
There’s just one problem: the surge of interest in tornado safety has overwhelmed companies that build the shelters, creating long waiting lists and forcing many people to endure the most dangerous part of this season without any added protection.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/fears-tornados-rouse-interest-shelters
Asian Pollution Affects World’s Weather
The first study that combines different scales — cloud-sized and earth-sized — into one model to simulate the effects of Asian pollution on the Pacific storm track has shown that the pollution can influence weather over much of the world. These results show that using multiple scales in one model greatly improves the accuracy of climate simulations.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/climate-model-reconstructs-pacific-storm-track
'Dressed' Laser May Induce Rain, Lightning
The adage, “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” may one day be obsolete if researchers at the Univ. of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the Univ. of Arizona further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.
The solution? Surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam, which on its own would break down quickly.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/dressed-laser-may-induce-rain-lightning
'Transition Zones' Appear to Be Tornado Hotspots
Areas where landscape shifts from urban to rural or forest to farmland may have a higher likelihood of severe weather and tornado touchdowns, a Purdue Univ. study says.
An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana tornado climatology data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center showed that a majority of tornado touchdowns occurred near areas where dramatically different landscapes meet — for example, where a city fades into farmland or a forest meets a plain.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/transition-zones-appear-be-tornado-hotspots
Asia’s Dust Strengthens India’s Monsoon
A new analysis of satellite data reveals a link between dust in North Africa and West Asia and stronger monsoons in India. The study shows that dust in the air absorbs sunlight west of India, warming the air and strengthening the winds carrying moisture eastward. This results in more monsoon rainfall about a week later in India. The results explain one way that dust can affect the climate, filling in previously unknown details about the Earth system.
The study also shows that natural airborne particles can influence rainfall in unexpected ways, with changes in one location rapidly affecting weather thousands of miles away. The researchers analyzed satellite data and performed computer modeling of the region to tease out the role of dust on the Indian monsoon, they report in Nature Geoscience.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/asias-dust-strengthens-indias-monsoon
Jet Stream Convulsions
The jet stream is the primary driver for most weather patterns and this winter its departure from the normal lateral (west to east) movement and variations seen over the past few decades appears to have effected longer lasting stable flows with stronger and deeper north to south changes. The jet stream’s northerly flows along the U.S. Pacific coast have resulted in less rainfall in California and a significantly warmer southern Alaska region. As the jet stream reversed its flow over central northern Canada, it brought with it the Polar Vortex, resulting in long-lasting cold spells into the deep south and then strong winter storms along the eastern seaboard as it reversed once again.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/blogs/2014/03/jet-stream-convulsions
Federal forecasters predict a warming of the central Pacific Ocean this year that will change weather worldwide. And that’s good news for a weather-weary U.S.
The warming, called an El Nino, is expected to lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes and more rain next winter for drought-stricken California and southern states, and even a milder winter for the nation’s frigid northern tier next year, meteorologists say.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/el-nino-good-news-us-weather-woes
Study Makes Area Around Train Tracks Safer in Winter
Results of an EPFL study on ballast projections in exceptional winter conditions have enabled Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to set-up measures to improve safety around the tracks.
SBB transports close to one million passengers per day, by any weather even in tough winter conditions. In 2012, striving to better safety, SBB mandated the EPFL Transportation Center to study the phenomenon of ballast projection by very cold weather. The results from this study have enabled SBB to undertake measures of improvement.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/study-makes-area-around-train-tracks-safer-winter