ESRL Quarterly Newsletter - Summer 2010

The ESRL quarterly newsletter provides highlights of ESRL's diverse research programs and explains how these are integrated to form a more complete understanding of our Earth system. See the pdf version for the full listing.

Target: Gulf Spill

Instrumented aircraft heads to Gulf, to help assess air quality

On April 20, a now all-too-well known deepwater oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people on board and igniting a fireball visible for miles. more...

Pseudo Storms, Key Decisions

OSSEs mimic reality to help NOAA prioritize resources

It’s notoriously difficult to know when a hurricane is about to spin up into a monster, or when a storm will settle down a notch, sparing a coastal city of major damage. To predict those shifts in intensity and other changes, weather researchers and forecasters need better observations of hurricanes and storm environments. But what’s the most effective way to gather those observations? more...

Director's Column

Like everyone, the story that has galvanized my attention during the last couple of months is the oil spill. If one could have imagined something that tested NOAA from one end of the organization to the other, its doubtful if we could have come up with anything as compelling and comprehensive as the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. more ...

Croaker Climate

The fish’s future is bright, collaborative study suggests

Jonathan Hare of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Narragansett, R.I. wanted to know how climate change information could be used to help plan for the future of our fisheries. “Most current management plans do not include the effect of climate change on specific fish populations, some of which will increase and others decrease as a result,” said Hare. more ...

Indigenous Knowledge and Science

Inuit forecasters with generations of environmental knowledge help scientists understand Arctic weather

An Inuk living in the Canadian Arctic looks to the sky and can tell by the way the wind scatters a cloud whether a storm is coming or if it’s safe to go on a hunt. Thousands of miles away in a Boulder laboratory, scientists collect data and use computer models to predict weather. They are two practices serving the same purpose, living in separate worlds. more ...

Balloon Science

ESRL celebrates 30 years of water vapor data

A six-foot diameter weather balloon soared into low clouds over Boulder, CO, April 21, its historic payload dangling from a string below. For 30 years now, NOAA researchers have sent balloon-borne instruments nearly 100,000 feet into the air twice a month, to collect data about the atmosphere, from the ground up to the darkness of near space. Among the measurements the balloon would take on its journey was water vapor concentration, which is critical for understanding climate change. more ...

Forecasting Ash

ESRL's FIM-Chem-Ash forecasts volcanic ash cloud in real time

In April and May, European authorities canceled more than 100,000 flights affecting 10 million passengers and costing the aviation industry billions in lost business due to the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. NOAA established a volcanic ash forecast response effort aimed at improving international guidance. ESRL responded with a new forecasting model, the FIM-CHEM-Ash, that began producing experimental real-time volcanic ash forecasts in May. This is the first time that a global model has been run with in-line chemistry; with 17 aerosol and gas-phase tracer concentrations and four size bins of volcanic ash. more ...

By the Numbers

Federal Virtual World Participants: 1,600

1,600 people participated in this year’s Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, in May in Washington, D.C. This number of virtual enthusiasts has grown steadily from five founding members in 2007. ESRL’s Eric Hackathorn (Global Systems Division and also NOAA’s virtual worlds program manager) is an ambassador for developing virtual worlds for the federal government, and renowned as one of the first to establish a science presence in Second Life. more ...

Art of the Inlet

Precision engineering and innovation for airborne science

It’s tricky to study the atmosphere from a research airplane speeding faster than 325 feet per second through thin air. Researchers rely on “inlets” to draw samples into custom instruments onboard—and designing those inlets can take exquisite attention to detail. “Some of them are dead simple, but some are full-on instruments in their own right,” said ESRL’s Tom Ryerson (Chemical Sciences Division, CSD). more ...

Greenland's Clouds

Matt Shupe installs instruments, blogs from Summit

At 10,000 feet high in the middle of the Greenland Ice Sheet, ESRL’s Matthew Shupe and colleagues spent part of May and June installing a powerful suite of climate and weather instruments to better understand how clouds contribute to rapid warming and melting in the region. more ...

Climate Choices

A.R. Ravishankara, Susan Solomon co-author National Research Council reports

Credible, strong science shows that human-caused climate change is occurring, and poses serious risk for human and natural systems, according to Advancing the Science of Climate Change, one of three reports issued by the National Research Council, NRC, in May. more ...

Ozone symposium and assessment

Ozone Symposium

Twenty-five years ago in May, scientists with the British Antarctic Survey reported that the springtime stratospheric ozone layer over the Antarctic was thinning dramatically. In the years since then, ESRL scientists have been extensively involved in understanding the reasons for that decline, tracking levels of the chemicals that deplete stratospheric ozone, and calculating the effectiveness of international policies to allow ozone layer recovery. more ...

CalNex Completed

Mission probes nexus of air quality and climate change in California

The CalNex mission, led by ESRL’s Chemical Sciences Division, CSD, began winding down June, after three months of work to assess air quality and climate in California. Hundreds of researchers from across ESRL and NOAA, NASA, the state of California, academia, and international institutions took to the land, sea, and air to measure and track greenhouse gases and air pollutants. more ...

It’s a bird, it’s a man...it’s SuperPlane!

Spring mission demonstrates Global Hawk’s chemistry prowess; next up: Gulf hurricanes

This spring, NASA and NOAA outfitted an unmanned military airplane with atmospheric instruments and sent it on a spectacular series of flights to study the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Now, scientists are aiming the research plane at hurricane formation and intensification in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the aircraft can soar for 30 hours per flight, researchers will get an unprecedented look at hurricanes as they develop and evolve. more ...

Achievement: News

More news from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory: SOS update, Sea ice forecast, Testbeds workshop, Australian honor shared, Flight guidance, and Dry times ahead. more ...

Achievement: Honors

Susan Solomon (Chemical Sciences Division, CSD) was one of two NOAA scientists named Service to America Medal finalists. more ...

Achievement: Publications

ESRL’s peer-reviewed publications are available in a searchable database: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/search/pubs/

Division Publication pages: