Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
Soot Sources, a Savvy Study, and the Tibetan Plateau
Results: Airborne soot
from fires, burning fossil fuels, and other sources can threaten water supplies
in mountainous regions far from the burning source. Now, a new method developed
at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
tagged sources of soot from different global regions in a climate model, and
tracked where it lands on China's Tibetan Plateau. Researchers determined which
areas around the plateau contributed the most soot-and where. The technique also
pointed to the most effective way to reduce soot on the plateau to ease the
amount of warming the region undergoes.
Rasch, Ghan, and Easter Named to 2015 List of Highly Cited Researchers
Three scientists at the Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory, all experts in Earth systems analysis and modeling, have
been named to the prestigious Thomson
Reuters Highly Cited Researchers 2015 for Geosciences. Honored are Drs. Phil Rasch, Steven Ghan, and Richard
The Color of Smog
Results: Sitting on an airplane flying into nearly every major city on a sunny day, passengers can see a lingering brown haze. This haze event is linked to climate issues, as the thousands of chemicals involved act as a warming blanket, absorbing sunlight and trapping surface heat. Yet, the chemistry of this haze is not well known. Recently, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory examined the chemistry of brown carbon, a pernicious set of particles in the haze. They focused on the specks that form around the chemical toluene, a common pollutant. They found that adding a bit of nitrogen oxide, released in combustion engine car exhaust, resulted in particles that trapped some heat. Increasing the nitrogen oxides level, however, resulted in particles that held significantly more heat and caused the mix to turn yellowish brown. The results are highlighted on the cover of a recent issue of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.
Proud Model: Rolling on the River
Results: Drinking, irrigation and energy
production. These are just three uses for freshwater provided by rivers to the
world's people. Understanding the rivers' flow is important, especially as
water uses and sources change. As reported in the Journal of Hydrometeorology, a team led by scientists at Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory coupled a newly developed river-routing model
with an Earth system model, and the simulated streamflow compared favorably
against the observed streamflow from more than 1,600 major river stations
worldwide. They also found that the added complexity in the new model adopted in
Earth system models improves the model's ability to capture the variability of
the observed streamflow. This new feature allows it to represent human
influence on the river systems.
Bernstein Co-Authors Book Chapter that Aims to Guide Microbial Community Engineering
Diverse groups of microbes live and work together in dense, interactive
communities. These microbial ecosystems are involved in reactions ranging from
producing feedstock chemicals to refining biofuels to altering toxins
underground. How the communities interact, specifically, by coordinating
metabolism, remains a major knowledge gap. Dr. Hans Bernstein is working to
change that situation. Bernstein, a Linus Pauling Fellow at Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory, and his colleagues at Montana State University, his alma
mater, have reconciled traditional process engineering principles with
ecological theories to help guide the future of microbial community engineering.
Sizing Up Cyclones
Results: Category 1, Category 3, the dreaded
Category 5—Americans are becoming too familiar with the ratings of hurricanes
or tropical cyclones. Scientists use a measure called Potential Intensity to
help them forecast the strength of tropical cyclones, aka hurricanes or
typhoons. Unfortunately, that measure does not accurately take into account how
the ocean subsurface conditions help fuel such storms. A team of scientists led
by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory modified the current
formula to calculate Potential Intensity by including the effects of
upper-ocean mixing, sea-surface cooling, and salinity during a cyclone. The
improved formula nearly doubles the accuracy in forecasting tropical cyclone intensification.
Shoving Protons Around
What's a few protons, one way or another? A great deal, according to Dr. Morris Bullock and Dr. Monte Helm at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists in their invited review article.
Good Is Not Enough: Improving Measurements of Atmospheric Particles
Results: When it comes to understanding how atmospheric particles affect climate, one measurement can't tell the whole story, especially in areas that haven't been studied. A research team led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed an approach that links the scattering coefficient, a measure of how much tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere scatter sunlight, with other particle properties. These properties include particle size, chemical composition, and ability to soak up atmospheric water. By linking these measurements, scientists can better understand the effects of a wide range of particles, including those that scatter sunlight (non-absorbing particles) and those that both scatter and absorb sunlight (absorbing particles).
Robert Houze Jr., Cloud and Convective Systems Expert, Joins PNNL
Dr. Robert A. Houze, Jr. has joined the Atmospheric Measurements and Data Science group as a joint appointee Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Fellow. Houze, a professor with the University of Washington's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, is a world-renowned expert in clouds and convective systems. As a joint appointee, he will spend more time at PNNL amplifying collaborative research between the Lab and UW.
Nailing Down the Jet Stream
Results: The complex models
scientists rely on to determine weather and potential climate changes have a
hidden flaw. They cannot agree on the behavior of one of the most important circulation
features: the jet stream. The strength and position of the jet stream are good
indicators of weather events. Now, as reported in the Journal of Climate, a team of researchers led by Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory has developed a diagnostic framework that can predict how well
a model will simulate the jet stream. This framework may prove a milestone in
accurately capturing jet stream dynamics and location.