Atmospheric

The weather is big news. No matter what is happening, too little or too much, someone is talking about that and then linking it to long-term climate disruption. The UN IPCC says not do to that, but if people will anyway, the big question is; how much accuracy is possible?

Rainfall is important and therefore a topic of intense debate. While we historically haven't been able predict it, we can use modern weather satellites to monitor it, and so that has become a widely-practiced technique.  That is not without pitfalls. Yet how accurate are claims about past rainfall? And can satellites do better? Establishing a reliable context for rainfall observations to current and historical ground-based rainfall data has been difficult.


There is new evidence to suggest that lightning on Earth is triggered by cosmic rays from space - and energetic particles from the Sun.

How so? They linked increased thunderstorm activity on Earth and streams of high-energy particles accelerated by the solar wind.

Conclusion: Particles from space help trigger lightning bolts.

Writing Environmental Research Letters, the researchers from Reading's Department of Meteorology found a substantial and significant increase in lightning rates across Europe for up to 40 days after the arrival of high-speed solar winds, which can travel at more than a million miles per hour, into the Earth's atmosphere.

So what causes these changes?


The climate hockey stick, a popular visual metaphor for climate change, has received considerable attention. It depicts a slightly cooling trend in the Northern Hemisphere from 1000 A.D. until 1900 A.D. and then swings sharply upward in the last 80 years. It was created using tree ring data for the older timeframes but not recently - after 1960, tree ring data showed a cooling trend so it was replaced.

Clearly that was not correct but if tree rings don't detect the modern warming trend, they might also have 'missed' warming episodes in the past - we know that the climate is not cooler now, that is not the issue, but if tree ring proxies are unreliable, it casts doubt on the whole onus of media and IPCC accounts since 2001.

There may be a reason why emissions regulations that reduced air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide haven't really led to a drop in ozone. A report from 2012 found that ambient levels of fine particulate matter had declined by 20 to 60 percent since 2001 but ozone had continued to rise in that same period, up 20 percent.


A new study has created the first detailed look at global land surface warming trends over the last 100 years, illustrating precisely when and where different areas of the world started to warm up or cool down.

Result: the world is indeed getting warmer but not everywhere and not at the same rate.

This probably took a few scientists by surprise and many journalists, but outside the IPCC this is exactly what was known to be happening..

"Global warming was not as understood as we thought," said Zhaohua Wu, an assistant professor of meteorology at Florida State University, who led a team of climate researchers that used an analysis method newly developed to examine land surface temperature trends from 1900 onward for the entire globe, minus Antarctica.


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, biofuels - ethanol - was touted as the savior of the environment if it replaced fossil fuels. Former Vice-President Al Gore of Tennessee advocated them, environmental corporations pushed for lobied and finally, in 2005, they were mandated and subsidized.

It quickly became evident that the claims about ethanol were not based on science.

Ethanol was already big business in Brazil and given the benefit of time, scholars can now analyze their air quality as a result of switching from gasoline - and then back. Oddly, ethanol became too expensive so residents of São Paulo, Brazil switched from ethanol back to gasoline for their flexible-fuel vehicles.


A new paper out today says that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change.

Two Northern Arizona University researchers led the study, which challenges previous understanding about how carbon accumulates in soil. Increased levels of CO2 accelerate plant growth, which causes more absorption of CO2 through photosynthesis.

Until now, the accepted belief was that carbon is then stored in wood and soil for a long time, slowing climate change. Yet this new research suggests that the extra carbon provides fuel to microorganisms in the soil whose byproducts (such as CO2) are released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.


Optics researchers from the University of Central Florida's College of Optics&Photonics and the University of Arizona are working on a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning. They are developing the a technique to surround a primary beam with a second beam that acts 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.


Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East and it may have seemed exceptional in the era of 24-hour news, but it's been happening that way for about 4,000 years, according to a new study. 


Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

A new MIT study finds it isn't a big worry. In the 30 years of international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals, ozone levels in the Arctic haven't yet sunk to Antarctica levels. Picking one solution and declaring it the savior may not be valid; in Canada, ozone-depleting chemicals dropped but ozone still went up, forcing policymakers to scramble and claim it must be coming from Asia.