ESRL Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2009

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.

Plot of ozone depleting substances.

N2O: Not One of the Usual Suspects

Chlorine-free nitrous oxide now top ozone-depleting emission

Nitrous oxide is better known to the public for inducing giggles in dentists’ offices than for wreaking havoc on Earth’s protective ozone layer.  more...

Exploring Earth

NOAA-museum partnership aims to engage educators, visitors, scientists, more

Planet Earth won’t fit on a tabletop exhibit at a science museum—even at the seemingly magical Exploratorium in San Francisco. So Exploratorium staff spent a week at the Earth System Research Laboratory in August, brainstorming with researchers about how to convey system science to the public in an engaging way.  more...

Director’s Corner

From the Director

Greetings from Venice where I am attending the OceanObs’09 Conference. I am co-author on a white paper on the global ocean observing system, but for me this conference is mainly a chance to understand a part of Earth system science that I have not had much experience with. This is the second OceanObs—the first was held in France 10 years ago, and is credited with propelling the significant increases in ocean observations, assimilation, understanding, and prediction of the last decade. For me, the similarities to the physical atmospheric problem are striking.  more...

By the Numbers


water sampling

Number of sites in Rocky Mountain National Park where volunteers collected water samples on August 19. The second annual “WaterBlitz” was funded by the Western Water Assessment, one of NOAA’s Regional Integrated Science Assessments and a joint project of ESRL and CIRES. Researchers suspect beetle-caused tree mortality is changing the concentration of nutrients in streams, which could affect ecosystems as well as water treatment downstream. Photo by Morgan Heim, CIRES.

David Hofmann

Pioneer of aerosol and ozone research dies

ESRL atmospheric scientist David Hofmann passed away in Boulder on 11 August 2009. He was 72. Hofmann has described his scientific focus as “simple in concept:” Commit to longterm, specific measurements; attend to the details; and focus on the big issues raised by the measurements.  more...

Lake Powel 2005.

Western Water Outlook: Grim

But good management can lower the risk of reservoir depletion, study shows

As the West warms, a drier Colorado River system could see as much as a 1-in-2 chance of fully depleting all of its reservoir storage by mid-century, assuming current management practices continue. That’s grim news for the roughly 30 million people who depend on the Colorado for drinking and irrigation water.  more...

Profile: Stephen A. Montzka

The ESRL scientist’s work tracking ozone-depleting substances has helped underpin scientific discoveries, international policy

When Steve Montzka was considering a position at NOAA nearly 19 years ago, the job description was daunting. It involved continually analyzing air samples from around the world for chemicals that were eating away at Earth’s protective ozone layer. “The work was to do this, day in and day out, for…well, forever,” Montzka said.  more...

FIM hurricane track predictions.

Storm Spoiler

ESRL’s FIM model excels during summertime hurricane trials

Hurricane Bill couldn’t outrun FIM. The ESRL developed forecast model kept pace with that storm and others this summer in a series of supercomputer-based hurricane forecast experiments.  more...

Chasing Shadows

ESRL researchers, colleagues develop a new technique for detecting tsunamis from space

Long, shallow tsunami waves racing through open ocean change the roughness of the sea surface ahead of them, and ESRL scientists demonstrated this summer that such “shadows” can be measured by satellite-borne radars. The finding could one day help save lives through improved detection and forecasting of tsunami intensity and direction at the ocean surface.  more...

Cleaning instruments.

Teachers in the Lab

ESRL scientists, university professors collaborate to study air and sea

In a break from their school-year routines, university professors Peter Blanken and Diane Stanitski worked in the lab and field with ESRL scientists this summer. Blanken and Stanitski were two of five teachers accepted to participate in NOAA’s pilot Teacher in the Lab program, an extension of the Teacher at Sea program, with the purpose of providing teachers hands-on experience working side-by-side with NOAA scientists.  more...

FIM model

Speeding Up Science

Cheap, poweful processors designed for life-like video games improve NOAA weather, climate models

Like everyone else at last year’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, Govett wanted to learn more about the latest innovations in computer processing. For most attendees, those innovations would lead to better games. Govett and a handful of others were more interested in how GPUs—graphics processing units—might improve science.   more...

Achievements, in Brief

More news, publications, and honors from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory

Quake damages NOAA site · HFCs threaten climate · NOAA chief visits Barrow, AK · AirCore patented · Haze less...hazy · Target: Arctic feedback · Honored

Aligning instruments.

Tracking the Sun

NOAA site serves scientists, photographers, deep-sea fishers

A redesigned web site that lets users calculate the Sun’s precise position, including the times of sunrise and sunset, has captured the interest of thousands of web surfers since early July.  more...