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Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change
  • intersecting cold pools

    A Breath of Cold Air

    Warm, moist air colliding with cold dry air above it has traditionally been credited with creating massive cloud formations many miles tall. Now, research by a team of scientists from PNNL and academia challenges that long-held belief. As reported in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, the scientists discovered that cold air near the surface rather than warm air is more likely to fuel cloud growth.

  • causes of snow-melting particles

    Following Soot to the Arctic

    Researchers at PNNL designed a new way to identify and track the sources of soot that find their way to the Arctic, using an atmospheric model and a tagging technique that is both efficient and effective. The result establishes a clear source-receptor relationship and soot pathways that will help explain the seasonal variations found for soot deposition. This finding will contribute to insights on the impact of darkened snow and ice on the Earth's energy budget.

  • Artist's interpretation of multiscale model

    Simulating Across Scales

    Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Central Florida developed a unified multiscale model that uses a single set of equations to simultaneously simulate fluid flow in an ecosystem containing both surface water and groundwater. Researchers applied the modeling approach to the Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee, Florida, where active field monitoring and measuring are ongoing to understand hydrological and biogeochemical processes.

  • space shuttle view of Brazilian thunderstorms forming

    Tall Clouds from Tiny Raindrops

    Myriad complex mechanisms lay behind how clouds are born, grow, and die. They are a key to understanding future weather patterns and global climate change. A team of researchers led by PNNL scientists examined how well a state-of-the-art high-resolution model simulated tropical clouds and their interaction with the warm ocean surface compared to real-world observations. They found that large tropical clouds grow larger because they incorporate less dry air, while smaller clouds dwindle away.

  • Trees

    Aerosols Stick Around

    Created by emissions from trees, cars, and other sources, carbon-rich aerosol particles alter our climate and affect air quality. Until recently, these particles were hard to characterize, forcing computational models to use unsupported assumptions. At PNNL, scientists have chipped away at these notions by providing hard data. Recently, they tackled how the particles, called secondary organic aerosols, behave when the relative humidity is high. They found that the aerosols evaporate very slowly, sticking around for days.

How do human activities and natural systems interact to affect the Earth's climate? Ultimately, that is the question challenging scientists in PNNL’s Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change Division.

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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change

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