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AGU Research Spotlight (Apr 07-Apr 13, 2016)

2016-04-13 15:07:54

I. Atmospheric Sciences

1.Modeling the Effects of Clouds on Climate

New research investigates how mixed-phase cloud partitioning and cloud cover compensate each other in GCMs.

2.Researchers Attribute Human Influence on Climate Back to 1930s

A new study finds that humans likely have triggered the last 16 record-breaking hot years on Earth, up to 2014.

3.Considering Atmospheric Electricity in Climate Models

Researchers create a new model of the electric currents circulating throughout the atmosphere that will improve the accuracy of global climate models.

II. Geology & Geophysics

1.Honoring Earth and Space Scientists

AGU members and others in the news

2.Diversifying Skills and Promoting Teamwork in Science

Truly innovative research requires intellectually diverse teams of scientists who are encouraged to excel in the tasks where their talents lie.

3.Salinity Monitoring Gives Insight into the Global Water Cycle

Salinity and Water Cycle over the Oceans: Recent Progress and Future Challenges; Hamburg, Germany, 12–15 October 2015

III. Hazards & Disasters

1.Seven Ways Climate Change Threatens U.S. Population's Health

A report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program finds health risks from global warming tied to heat, air quality, vector-borne diseases, water issues, extreme weather, nutrition, and mental stress.

2.Senate Pushes USGS Director for More Action on Minerals, Hazards

Suzette Kimball also tells senators that innovation is the characteristic she hopes to nurture the most as USGS director.

IV. Ocean Sciences

1.Tidal River Dynamics

Tidal rivers are a vital and little studied nexus between physical oceanography and hydrology.

V. Space Science & Space Physics

1.Exploring New Knowledge on Magnetospheric Interactions

AGU Chapman Conference on Magnetospheric Dynamics; Fairbanks, Alaska, 27 September to 2 October 2015

VI.Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface

1.Seeking Knowledge in the Dust

The Batsheva de Rothschild Seminar on Atmospheric Dust, Dust Deposits (Loess) and Soils in Deserts and Desert Fringe: The Sahara-Sinai-Negev as an Analogue for the Global Arid Regions; Jerusalem and the Negev Desert, 14–19 October 2015

2.Controversial Pacts Aim for Dam Removals on Western U.S. River

New agreements regarding the Klamath River in Oregon and California would enable the largest U.S. dam removal project ever. Critics say water quality will suffer, decry hydropower loss.

VII. Education

1.Teens and Scientists Come Together at Science Cafés

"Science cafés" bring scientists and the public together for relaxed conversation in restaurants and coffee shops. The Teen Science Café Network shows that the concept isn't just for adults.

VIII.Climate Change

1. Insights on Climate Systems from Interglacials

Interglacials provide insights into the impacts of warmer than present conditions in certain regions of Earth.

IX.Earth and Space Science

1.New studies uncover mysterious processes that generate volcanic lightning (plus video)

Hot ash, gas and lava spewed into the atmosphere by volcanoes can block out the sun, down planes and bury entire towns. As if that weren’t ferocious enough, the most violent volcanic eruptions also generate lightning.

2.Nansen Ice Shelf, Antarctica Calving Event Occurs April 2016

The NIWA reported a calving event from the Nansen Ice Shelf on April 11, 2016. They are concerned about a mooring in Terra Nova Bay in front of the ice shelves. The area of the Nansen Ice Shelf is 1500 square kilometers, these icebergs have a combined estimate of approximately 250 square kilometers.

3.An Ocean Mystery

A little science mystery for you. Look at this image above (Courtesy Climate Central in Princeton). Why is the water south of Greenland getting colder/not warming, while its warmed dramatically elsewhere?? Current hypothesis is melting ice in Greenland is chilling the water, or a slow down in the thermohaline circulation. May be both?

4.2,400 meters under the South Pacific

For centuries, many people believed that the deep sea was full of monsters, and some believed that the ocean had no bottom. While these notions were put to rest by the first submersible dives in the 1930s, the deep sea continued to be viewed as a barren expanse of emptiness, populated by a few strange creatures that eked out a modest living by eating the debris that rains from above.

X. Geophysical Research Letters

1. The effect of temperature and moisture on trace gas emissions from deciduous and coniferous leaf litter

The forest litter layer lies at the boundary between soil and atmosphere and is a major factor in biogeochemical cycles. While there are several studies on how the litter layer controls soil trace gas emissions, litter emissions itself are less well understood, and it is still unclear how important gases respond to changing temperature and moisture.

2. The overlooked tropical oceanic CO2 sink

The intense rainfall in the tropical Atlantic spatially overlaps with the spread of the Amazon plume. Based on remote-sensed sea surface salinity and rainfall, we removed the contribution of rainfall to the apparent Amazon plume area, thus refining the quantification of its extension (0.84?±?0.06 106 to 0.89?±?0.06 106 Km2). Despite the previous overestimation of the Amazon plume area due to the influence of rainfall (>16%), our calculated annual CO2 flux based on rainfall-corrected sea surface CO2 fugacity confirms that the Amazon River plume is an atmospheric CO2 sink of global importance (-7.61?±?1.01 to -7.85?±?1.02 Tg C year-1). Yet, we show that current sea-air CO2flux assessments for the tropical Atlantic could be overestimated in about 10% by neglecting the CO2 sink associated to the Amazon plume. Thus, including the Amazon plume, the sea-air CO2exchange for the tropical Atlantic is estimated to be 81.1?±?1.1 to 81.5?±?1.1 Tg C year-1.

3. The combined influences of autumnal snow and sea ice on Northern Hemisphere winters

Past studies have demonstrated a significant relationship between the phase and amplitude of the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) and both Arctic sea ice and high-latitude snow cover during boreal autumn. However, those studies have considered these forcings separately. Here we consider the collective effect of Arctic sea ice and snow cover variability for producing skillful subseasonal forecasts for Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter conditions. We find that these two cryospheric elements interact with the extratropical atmosphere differently through the cold season. Sea ice extent minima during November play a role in stratospheric and tropospheric circulation anomalies during November/December with a secondary maximum in late January/February. October snow cover anomalies, however, have impacts on the NAM primarily during middle to late winter. These timing differences are likely tied to differences in anomalous wave driving between the two cases, though other processes may be in play. We exploit these different influences to produce a skillful forecast model of subseasonal NH surface temperatures using both sea ice and snow cover as predictors, with large gains in skills in January. Overall, our study suggests that the Arctic has a demonstrable and detectable influence on midlatitude winter weather in the present and likely future climate.

4. Lava flow hazard modeling during the 2014–2015 Fogo eruption, Cape Verde

Satellite remote sensing techniques and lava flow forecasting models have been combined to enable a rapid response during effusive crises at poorly monitored volcanoes. Here we used the HOTSAT satellite thermal monitoring system and the MAGFLOW lava flow emplacement model to forecast lava flow hazards during the 2014–2015 Fogo eruption. In many ways this was one of the major effusive eruption crises of recent years, since the lava flows actually invaded populated areas. Combining satellite data and modeling allowed mapping of the probable evolution of lava flow fields while the eruption was ongoing and rapidly gaining as much relevant information as possible. HOTSAT was used to promptly analyze MODIS and SEVIRI data to output hot spot location, lava thermal flux, and effusion rate estimation. This output was used to drive the MAGFLOW simulations of lava flow paths and to continuously update flow simulations. We also show how Landsat 8 OLI and EO-1 ALI images complement the field observations for tracking the flow front position through time and adding considerable data on lava flow advancement to validate the results of numerical simulations. The integration of satellite data and modeling offers great promise in providing a unified and efficient system for global assessment and real-time response to effusive eruptions, including (i) the current state of the effusive activity, (ii) the probable evolution of the lava flow field, and (iii) the potential impact of lava flows.

XI.Meeting Reports

1. Expanding Use of Plant Trait Observations in Earth System Models

To be useful, Earth system models (ESMs) must capture important ecosystem feedbacks to environmental change. However, it remains a challenge for models to represent the wide variation in plant sensitivity to, and influence on, the climate.


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