DOE Scientists Begin Southeastern Pacific Climate Study
During October and November 2008, DOE funded scientists will take part in an international field experiment designed to study stratocumulus clouds in the southeastern Pacific. This region is dominated by strong coastal upwelling, bringing cold, dense seawater from the deep ocean closer to the surface and resulting in extensive cold sea surface temperatures that drive formation of the largest subtropical deck of low-lying stratocumulus clouds on Earth. Because this cloud type is poorly understood and poorly represented in global climate models, data from this experiment are critical for improving the model predictions of climate change. The study is known as the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems’ (VAMOS) Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-Rex). The DOE team includes investigators from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The experiment uses the G-1 Gulfstream research aircraft to collect cloud and aerosol data that will be used to test theories regarding how precipitation forms in clouds and how aerosols affect cloud optical and microphysical properties. Other participants in the study include the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the World Climate Research Program as well as participants from several countries.