Ski Lodges, Chairlifts, and Learjets: Some Scientists Have All the Luck (While Skeptics Have Their Laptops Seized)
Comment: It seems while climate science researchers have been called by the line of duty to work on ski slopes and fly in learjets, skeptic scientists have their computers seized by UK authorities – presumably for having received and published the link to the Climategate leaked emails.
(PhysOrg.com) — Ski season is snow season, and snow season means clouds – exactly what a team of atmospheric scientists in “Ski Town USA” are anticipating. For the next five months, a dense collection of remote-sensing instruments will gather data from the clouds at four different elevations on Mount Werner in the Steamboat Springs ski area. Scientists will use these data to study how clouds – especially those that produce rain and snow – evolve in mountainous terrain. They will use the data to verify the accuracy of measurements used in computer models of the Earth’s climate system.
About a dozen instruments are located on the valley floor, near the base of Mount Werner, where researchers will also launch weather balloons several times a day. More instruments are located outside Thunderhead Lodge, a main thoroughfare for the ski area. A third instrument collection is located near the Christie Peak Express chairlift. Storm Peak Lab, at the top of the mountain, will host several instruments in addition to its permanent collection.
Because clouds are so dynamic and can contain ice, water, or a mixture of the two, they continue to be one of the hardest components of the climate system for scientists to model accurately. Ground based instruments provide more geographic and temporal coverage of these cloud systems. Instruments on the ground are typically used to obtain – or “retrieve” – measurements that are related indirectly to important cloud processes. Inferring these cloud processes requires development of mathematical formulas, or algorithms, to convert the measurements into cloud properties.
Quantifying cirrus albedo and greenhouse effects in Learjets
“Cirrus clouds exert significant controls on the Earth’s radiation budget, both reflecting solar radiation (the albedo effect) and reducing radiative heat loss through the atmosphere (the greenhouse effect). Quantifying cirrus albedo and greenhouse effects is an important factor in building accurate global climate models.
High-altitude cirrus clouds are made up primarily of ice crystals in various sizes, shapes, and densities. Discrepancies in how different instruments measure these properties contribute a large degree of uncertainty in scientific knowledge of these clouds. Some of these discrepancies may be due to the shattering of larger ice crystals on aircraft and probe surfaces during airborne sampling efforts.
The scientific objectives of the SPARTICUS field campaign include rectifying the archived discrepancies and improving the methodology for cirrus data acquisition. This will provide scientists a better understanding of existing and future cirrus data sets, leading to an overall improvement in climate model accuracy.
Between January and June 2010, the SPARTICUS field campaign collected 150 hours of concurrent data from cirrus clouds over the ARM Southern Great Plains site using a broad array of both ground-based and aircraft-mounted instruments.
To obtain the airborne data, the ARM Aerial Facility coordinated flights by the SPEC Learjet 25, provided and flown by the Stratton Park Engineering Company, Inc. These corollary data sets will provide a solid foundation for the rigorous evaluation needed to rectify the existing discrepancies in cirrus data.