Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Research Over Tibet Gives Climate Insight 106

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the natural-highs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "NASA is reporting that researchers have discovered thunderstorms above Tibet offer a direct path for water vapor and chemicals to move from the lower atmosphere to the stratosphere. From the article: ' Learning how water vapor reaches the stratosphere can help improve climate prediction models. Similarly, understanding the pathways that ozone-depleting chemicals can take to reach the stratosphere is essential for understanding future threats to the ozone layer, which shields Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Research Over Tibet Gives Climate Insight

Comments Filter:
  • Who cares?! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Humanity doesn't have the incentive or motivation do anything about it, so basically this is useless info.
  • Free Tibet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:37PM (#15304983)
    With purchase of equal or greater value Tibet

    Offer not valid in all areas. Some restrictions may apply.
    • They just need to free Tibet already...
    • Now we know why the Chinese want it! Ownership of Tibet is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face. It offers them a direct route to get their commie water into the stratosphere where it will rain down on all freedom-loving people. It's all part of the international communist-conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.

      That's the way your hardcore commie works.
    • Tibet is cheap though once you get there with enough greenbacks, my friend lived there for less than 200 dollars a month for years and he had to freight 2 tons of crap through India when he was done.
  • Wow (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    After all these years who would have thought it was Tibet's fault?
  • Learning how water vapor reaches the stratosphere can help improve climate prediction models.

    Gosh, aren't we told repeatedly that we already have climate models of sufficient accuracy that we can use them to make sweeping changes to our economy and infrastructure? Don't we already have a "scientific consensus" that we are all doomed? Why do we need more research just to tell us what we already know?

    • by windows (452268) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:06PM (#15305115)
      Wow. I don't even really know what to say to this.

      In the troposphere, while it's typically pretty stable, there are cases where it is unstable and particularly strong convection occurs. One case of particularly strong upward motion is supercell thunderstorms. But the upward motion tends to slow and stop at or slightly above the tropopause. Temperature decreases with height in the troposphere, but increases with height in the stratosphere. While momentum carries strong updrafts into the very lower troposphere, even the air in the strongest updrafts don't continue very far before descending again.

      In other words, there's not a whole lot of mass exchange occurring between the troposphere and stratosphere.

      Understanding this exchange and the sources and sinks of water vapor and other chemicals in the stratosphere is one way to better improve our study of things in the stratosphere.

      And you greatly overestimate the accuracy of any numerical model on a computer. It is very impressive, given the large amount of parameterizations and approximations made, that computer models produce as good of output and forecast the weather as well as they do.
      • eh, I'm pretty sure she was being sarcastic. we keep hearing about how the computer models are accurate, and Carbon Dioxide is causing massive heating. meanwhile there's been for quite a while pretty good evidence to suggest that the majority of the greenhouse effect is due largely to water vapour + clouds. it's just that all "real environmentalists" have been dismissing the effects of water vapour while proclaming doomsday scenarios based on carbon output increases. hopefuly this project in Tibet is a
        • ;-) You do realise that if Science starts to suggest Gobal Warming is the effect more of water in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, we are screwed in more ways than we are unwilling to accept.

          After all if it is water, that is linked to energy use wholesale, not just the use of Carbon based energy, screwing the environment. We will have to break more than dependance on oil and coal.
        • by ankhank (756164) * on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @11:22PM (#15305972) Journal
          I'm pretty sure you're just being sarcastic, but lest anyone believe you, the effects of water vapor transport have long been one of the major areas of research. You can look this stuff up.

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005 /11/busy-week-for-water-vapor/ [realclimate.org]

          People might think you to be confused or fooled by the propaganda that the effect of water vapor swamps that of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases, but again you can look that up.

          Basic technique for looking anything up == find sites with footnotes and check them. Trolls and PR industry flacks just make things up, and don't have cites that can be checked. It's the simple way to tell science from bullshit. Kind of a smell test.

          Science is hard, you know. No other civilization in the ten to hundred thousand years people lived on Earth managed to invent science. It's worth the effort.
        • Erm, water vapour is an amplifier, not a forcing. Such studies do not undermine Carbon effects, but tell us more about how locally AGW will lead to implications in the complex weather system. The models are accurate enough to show the massive heating. This new study tells us how massive, and where.
    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:55PM (#15305358) Homepage Journal
      Gosh, don't we have our panties in a bunch?
      "Gosh, aren't we told repeatedly that we already have climate models of sufficient accuracy that we can use them to make sweeping changes to our economy and infrastructure?"
      No, we are told that are current models predict this and we should be proactive.

      " Don't we already have a "scientific consensus" that we are all doomed? "
      No, we have scientific consensus that the climate is starting to oscilate and this will change the weather. Making it more violent because of the energy increase.

      "Why do we need more research just to tell us what we already know?"

      It is another way to make predictions and tests. It is known chemicals get into the upper atmosphere, but no sound theory on HOW they get up there.
    • Dude, what were you thinking? Upsetting the apple cart like this is BOUND to get you a "Flamebait" or "Troll!" And, of course, at least one guy who takes you WAY too seriously. You should know you can't inject any negativity into a slashdot Global Warming/Evolution/Anti-Bush post here.
      I'll take my "Flamebait" now with a "ThankYouSirMayIHaveAnother!"
  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:52PM (#15305055) Homepage
    If you'd like to run your own NASA Global Climate Model (GCM) on your own computer, the EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has ported a GCM to Mac & Windows and wrapped it in a GUI so you can point-and-click your way around. Turn the sun down or add some nitrogen, whatever you want...

    Note that the resolution is pretty coarse (8x10 degrees) so that it still runs at a decent clip on your Mac/PC, and therefore Tibet gets 1 or 2 grid cells, that is about it.

    We just had a request about removing the Tibetian plateau [columbia.edu] and the resulting effect on Earth climate.

    Disclaimer: I'm a developer on the project.
    • Isn't it possible to change the grid spacing to something finer? One or two grid points isn't sufficient to resolve a wave.
      • The current model is only 8x10. This does resolve waves, but only large scale waves (wave order 1 (planetary) through 4 or so (continental) perhaps?).

        Vertically we have 12 layers and I'm not sure what type of structures appear there... You can see hadley cells, ferrel cells (slightly), etc.

        Higher res models ported to the GUI are in progress. If you'd like to run them without the GUI there are many out there... both at GISS/Columbia and other climate labs.
        • Ah. I'll admit I'm a little surprised that some of that can't be defined by whoever is running the model. I do some research with regional/mesoscale models such as the WRF. The WRF is run at many places at a variety of resolutions. I've seen as coarse as a 22 km grid spacing and as fine as a 1 km grid spacing.

          Out of curiosity, has the idea come up of perhaps nesting grids and allowing the effects of things in the nested grid to propagate into the larger grid? It would allow one to better study the behavior
          • Yes, many models have variable resolution. This one does not.

            It is also common to feed GCMs to regional models or regional results as GCM inputs. Occasionally people do GCM regional in a dual feedback loop. It is difficult to implement, and this model does not support it out of the box. But the source is available so you could do it if you really wanted to...
    • by hawkfish (8978)
      AGW appears to be drying out Tibet [commondreams.org]. The number of people in those watersheds is frightening.

      (Sorry to post as a reply, but I can't find the frigging "top level reply" link on the article page for some reason...)
      • (Sorry to post as a reply, but I can't find the frigging "top level reply" link on the article page for some reason...)

        It's...where it always is. Did you buy your 4 digit id off eBay?
        • It's...where it always is.
          Ah, I see it now. Putting it next to the display settings is one of the dumbest pieces of UI design I have seen since... I guess since the last time I made a top level post.
          Did you buy your 4 digit id off eBay?
          No, I just haven't made a top level post in a while. Some of us have a life outside of /.
    • Or source code?
    • Silly me -- I had failed to consider the possibility of simply removing the Himalayas, and thus truncating this path for greenhouse gas migration into the stratosphere.

      Removing the Himalayas is something we can certainly do (tunnel into the base and detonate several gigatons of thermonuclear warheads deep inside the mountains), and even manage to disperse much of the mountain range into the upper atmosphere as radioactive dust to immediately reduce global temperature, as was done in 1816 (the Year Without a [wikipedia.org]

  • by celardore (844933)
    I was always taught by my geography teacher that there as so many variables concerned, and all fairly random - that even a reasonably accurate prediction of climate changes over any length of time would be only ever be wildly inaccurate.

    But still, if this helps my local weatherman to tell me it's going to be sunny on laundry day, and it actually is sunny then I'm all for it...
    • "I was always taught by my geography teacher that there as so many variables concerned, and all fairly random - that even a reasonably accurate prediction of climate changes over any length of time would be only ever be wildly inaccurate."

      Global warming causes hurricanes to be more powerful. There is nothing vague or uncertain about that.
      • There is little evidence to conclusively. Nice try. I'd like to think you're joking, but you might be trolling.

        Even if, say, global warming increased the temperature of the oceans, other factors (such as perhaps increased vertical wind shear) or a change in the location of the ITCZ (probably shifting poleward in a warmer planet) would affect the climatology of tropical cyclones.

        And there is reason to believe that greater hurricane activity is due to natural cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PD
        • Yes there is.

          Fact: Global warming = warmer water
          Fact: Warmer Water = more violent hurricanes.

        • "Even if, say, global warming increased the temperature of the oceans, other factors (such as perhaps increased vertical wind shear) or a change in the location of the ITCZ (probably shifting poleward in a warmer planet) would affect the climatology of tropical cyclones."

          I said nothing about the location of the hurricanes, or their number. That would be impossible to predict. It's a simple fact that hurricanes and similar cyclonic storms are more powerful when they are over warmer water. This is what cau
          • The problem is that hurricanes aren't only affected by sea-surface temperatures. There's a lot of other factors such as vertical wind shear that make a difference.

            The El-Nino phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) correlates with increased vertical wind shear over the Atlantic, for example. While waters in the eastern Pacific are warmer, tropical cyclone activity is actually suppressed over the Atlantic. This is one example of a way in which tropical cyclone activity can be suppressed.

            It doesn't m
            • Damn you random HBO special! All lies and simplifications!!
            • The problem is that hurricanes aren't only affected by sea-surface temperatures.

              Yes. In fact, global warming is going to reduce or eliminate the hurricane problem. The higher temperatures will cause population decimation, or even extinction, among butterflies. And since the root cause of hurricanes is butterflies flapping their wings in China, there will be few-to-zero hurricanes in the near future.

          • The storms over the great lakes have the effect they do because of how water changes temperature slower than the air above it. With the cooler air over the warmer water you get strong convection currents. You also get the polar jet stream moving further south starting around November and that steers storms from the Gulf of Alaska toward the great lakes region. There are strong arguments that we are in an active period that cycles about every 30 years, we also don't know what sort of effects global warmin
    • by Decaff (42676) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:29PM (#15305216)
      I was always taught by my geography teacher that there as so many variables concerned, and all fairly random - that even a reasonably accurate prediction of climate changes over any length of time would be only ever be wildly inaccurate.

      But still, if this helps my local weatherman to tell me it's going to be sunny on laundry day, and it actually is sunny then I'm all for it...


      Your geography teacher was wrong. He would be right if he was talking about weather, but climate is not weather - it is the long-term average of things. It is like the flow of a river - there may be chaotic localised turbulence and vortices, but the overall flow is steady and predictable.
    • Small-scale features can impact larger scale features, but in general, they don't have a huge effect. For example, a supercell thunderstorm over Oklahoma isn't going to cause more than a tiny ripple in the large scale pattern of longwaves over the Northern Hemisphere. Synoptic scale features can affect planetary scale features, and mesoscale features can affect synoptic scale features, but in general, small features don't have a big effect on large features. And large scale features persist much longer than
    • Not random (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:39AM (#15306358) Homepage Journal
      That part is definitely wrong. The climate - and the weather - are 100% deterministic systems. There is nothing "random" about the climate, it follows very exact mathematical and physical laws, with no exceptions. Now, your geography teacher may have meant "non-predictable", and that would be true. The climate is a chaotic system, which means it is very sensitive to initial conditions, has no stable points and the mathematical system representing it has no differential.


      (The difference is that a random system has nothing predictable about it. It can do absolutely anything at any time, merely following the probability distribution for that system. However, the exact state at time T can be known - it merely doesn't mean a whole lot. A chaotic system, on the other hand, has definable patterns, definable mechanics and definable structure, but you can NEVER know the exact state for ANY time and small differences CAN - but won't always - cascade into large changes.)


      If you were to look at the climate as far back as we can reliably know it, you will see oscillations between ice ages and warmer periods. The troughs and peaks appear fairly random, but really they aren't. The climate can be approximated (badly) as a simple oscillating function, but that's pretty crude. Actually, there's a greater correspondence between 10 years stock prices for wheat and 100,000 years of global temperature than there is between climate and a sine wave. (See: "Fractal Geometry of Nature", Mandelbrot, B., for more details, as the margins here are much too big - err, small.)


      I would also be willing to bet that the change in climate as a function of the change in climate composition is also very deterministic. As we're talking systems that appear to be oscillating, my best guess is that the ratio of the peak intervals of different types of oscillation with small differences in climate composition will always be Feigenbaum's Constant, as that's usually the case in chaotically-produced pseudo-oscillations.


      Now, despite all this talk of chaos, lack of absolutes and so on, the climate is very predictable in general form. No great surprise there - if you generate the Mandelbrot Set, or the Lorenz owl-mask, you expect to see the same general shape each time. That is not going to change. The same is true with the climate... for now. The climate is orbiting a bunch of Strange Attractors, as per the Lorenz owl-mask. We know the general shape and we know the general effects of altering the various parameters.


      There is a problem, however. If the climate were to jump from the current set of Strange Attractors to any other set, the climate would change relatively rapidly and definitely counter to any model that relies on the current patterns holding true.


      What could cause such a jump? When could it occur? Well, that's the problem. Strange Attractors are not like nice, neat gravitational sources, you can't see them, and they have no physical existence, they are merely a product of irreducable mathematical problems. They could, however, cause the planet to boil or freeze the moment the system strays too far. (If you don't know which Strange Attractor the climate would switch to, you cannot make any useful prediction from past trends.)

      • Re:Not random (Score:3, Informative)

        by Decaff (42676)
        They could, however, cause the planet to boil or freeze the moment the system strays too far. (If you don't know which Strange Attractor the climate would switch to, you cannot make any useful prediction from past trends.)

        This is a bit extreme; The climate has been perturbed a LOT in the past - such by phenomenal heating through asteroid strikes, and substantial cooling after 'supervolcano' eruptions (most recently, only a matter of tens of thousands of years ago), but has not boiled or frozen. The attrac
  • by ugmoe (776194) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:59PM (#15305084)
    "Learning how water vapor reaches the stratosphere can help improve climate prediction models."

    Oh no, global warming has become so bad that the earth is sweating!

  • by jvalenzu (96614) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:16PM (#15305157) Homepage
    The good news: global warming will be solved within 50 years!

    The bad news: it will coincide with the deindustrialization of our civilization due to the lack of fossil fuels.
    • Sounds like good news either way to a Distributist [wikipedia.org] like me. Industrialization has just been one long transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, hidden behind cheap goods made available by economies of scale. This will repair itself about the same time that Cottage Industry and small-scale production starts up again because long-haul shipping will disappear.
      • You monicker and your statements stand in absolute opposition to eachother. You obviously fail to realize that Marx was a proponent of Industrialization and Capitalims because he strongly beleived that only a capitalist economy could be strong and productive enough to provide the sort of wealth neccesary for a transition into Communism. Transfer from the rich to the poor indeed. Have you not the slightest bit of common sense?

        I'm not a Marx fan at all, nor do I have anything but contempt for communism, ye
        • You monicker and your statements stand in absolute opposition to eachother. You obviously fail to realize that Marx was a proponent of Industrialization and Capitalims because he strongly beleived that only a capitalist economy could be strong and productive enough to provide the sort of wealth neccesary for a transition into Communism. Transfer from the rich to the poor indeed. Have you not the slightest bit of common sense?

          Marx is where I START, not where I END. I hack. I hack systems. Communism is j
          • Distributism?

            That's what we used to call being a nomad. Wandering around, living off the land.

            You can't beterribly bright if you think 6 billion people could live on this planet in such a manner.
            • That's what we used to call being a nomad. Wandering around, living off the land.

              You might want to look at it again, it's somewhat more civilized than that. Think Feudalism and Guilds- small scale distributed manufacturing and local knowledge brokers, trade with your immediate neighbors first, trade outside your community only for what you can't make for yourselves.

              You can't beterribly bright if you think 6 billion people could live on this planet in such a manner.

              I think if we had 8 billion people,
              • Not bad, you've actually got some good points. So how do you propose we go about changing the gloabal political structure? Especially when we're having problems just getting people to accept the idea of basic universal human freedoms.

                Remember, an idea is no good if it's not practical. Implementing your system would be, I fear, even more difficult than achieveing the utopian marxist society. Although in the field of finite mathematics, when you start seing such ludicrously high numbers the diference betw
                • So how do you propose we go about changing the gloabal political structure?

                  I'm beginning to think that, in short, is the wrong goal entirely. Instead of changing the GLOBAL political structure, what we need to do is change our LOCAL political structures. Create defensible, small communities that are ready for the end of mass long distance transportation- and are ready for public short-distance transportation services. Make sure those communities have everything they need locally. Empower citizens to m
                  • Sounds like you've got it planned out pretty good. The key word in the first paragraph though is "defencible". Small communities cannot defend themselves against large nations. Implementing something like this on a small scale only works so long as it's being done in a free nation, which maintains a powerfull military. As soon as you lose that protection, someone's going to come by and show you how THEY think you should live.

                    And I don't quite get what basic freedoms such as freedom of speech or freedom
                    • Sounds like you've got it planned out pretty good. The key word in the first paragraph though is "defencible". Small communities cannot defend themselves against large nations. Implementing something like this on a small scale only works so long as it's being done in a free nation, which maintains a powerfull military. As soon as you lose that protection, someone's going to come by and show you how THEY think you should live.

                      The other alternative, of course, is to find a place where the geography works wi
      • by jvalenzu (96614)
        Unfortunately, the Earth's current carrying capacity is proportional to our energy consumption. This "shortfall" will be borne by the poor, either in death or dramatically lower quality of life.
        • The more prosperous a country becomes the more dynamic the rich and the poor are. That said, the poor in 1st world countries are still richer than the richest in 3rd world countries (not counting thugs and dictators).

          To understand this effect in reverse, read up on the Great American Depression. The really poor didn't notice a hit all that much. The poor got a little poorer. The rich, fell flat on their asses. There aways acceptions to the rule of course. Point is, facts are irrelevant when "class envy" shr
        • Unfortunately, the Earth's current carrying capacity is proportional to our energy consumption. This "shortfall" will be borne by the poor, either in death or dramatically lower quality of life.

          Maybe- Maybe not. We don't actually know what would happen if we applied what we now know of genetics and organic chemistry to native plants and native food/energy production. We're too busy centralizing wealth to ask the correct questions. But if centralization of wealth becomes impossible- if the only thing th
    • Lack of fossil fuels (or any other raw material, for that matter) will not cause deindustrialization. We won't just "run out" of anything. Supply will slowly decrease, driving up prices thereby decreasing consumption while people search for alternatives. Eventually, when gas becomes too expensive and short in supply, we'll switch to biodiesel, ethenol, or hydrogen (yes, I know people say that hydrogen = natural gas, but the fact remains you *can* make hydrogen from water, and I'm sure someone will eventu
    • ... it will coincide with the deindustrialization of our civilization due to the lack of fossil fuels.

      This assumes that widespread use of fossil fuels is the primary cause and driving force behind global warming.

      That is unlikely, considering that the current global warming trend started over 10,000 years ago. [nasa.gov]

      Also, there are powerful positive feedback loops (e.g., the millions of square miles of thawing/decomposing tundra [wikipedia.org], and the rising levels of global humidity) that will shortly eclipse the carbon e

  • Maybe liberating Tibet could solve global warming !
  • Just so people know. Every single "Certified" air conditioning installer and repair person that I have met and known just lets their repair or replacement freon go into the sky. Think it one further. When you call them in because your having trouble cooling your house or building, it is most likely due to a leak in the system. Which only means that it's being let go into the sky anyway. So for real, every system ever made will eventually fail and most likely have its refrigerant just plume to the sky, slowl
  • Somehow appropriate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:39PM (#15305253) Homepage Journal
    I mean, it turns out that Tibet even provides a path to the heavens for water vapor!
    • "I mean, it turns out that Tibet even provides a path to the heavens for water vapor!"

      No, it was just the only way to escape China.



      Disclaimer: No, I haven't been to China. Yes, I am full of shit.

  • So does this mean that we can save the environment by using enough nukes to reduce the elevation of Tibet to a more reasonable level? I suppose we'd have to deal with the rest of the Himalayas similarly, but hey, we've got enough nukes to destroy the world several times over, right? So this ought to be easy!
    • Where does the dirt go? Either builds other places higher, or goes into the sea and raises the sea level proportionally... so that one won't work! Nooo, what you want to do is compress the stuff so they're smaller - essentially, you need the weight of MOUNTAINS on them!
  • NASA is reporting that researchers have discovered thunderstorms above Tibet offer a direct path for water vapor and chemicals to move from the lower atmosphere to the stratosphere.

    Should be (pick one):
    NASA is reporting that researchers have discovered [that] thunderstorms above Tibet [that] offer a direct path for water vapor and chemicals to move from the lower atmosphere to the stratosphere.

    Sorry /., but bad grammar annoys the crap out of me. </grammar police>

    • That may explain this:

      From http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/ozone.html [noaa.gov]

      "Stratospheric Water Vapor

      Utilizing balloon-borne frost-point hygrometers, GMD has detected an approximately 1% per year increase in stratospheric water vapor at Boulder, Colorado, since 1980. Besides implications for climate change, increased water vapor can affect the rate of chemical ozone loss, for example, by increasing the incidence of polar stratospheric clouds. Satellite measurements of water vapor, although not of adequate length for acc
  • What differentates Indian thunderstorms from those in Tibet? For example how high are the tops of Indian vs Tibetan thunderstorms? The article lacks this information. What other places on earth that have similar thunderstorm stratosphere pumping mechanisms? It is improbable that all the water vapor in the stratosphere originates from Tibet.
  • Maybe we should flatten Tibet if it is such a contributor to global warming. Let's create some nice rice-fields and do away with al lthese tiny valeys.
  • If this is true, then most of those channels must be over Antarctica.

    Or, once the 'ozone depleting' chemicals are into the upper layers of our atmosphere, they have been, or are, shuttled/attracted to the south pole.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

Working...