Tag Archives: Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

The List: Science and Environment Happenings in and Around Boulder

Solar Probe. (Photo/NASA)

Events this week will discuss the relationship between extreme weather events and climate, and the 2018 NASA mission that will send a spacecraft closer to the sun than ever before.  There will be a viewing of the HBO documentary “Too Hot Not to Handle,” followed by a discussion and reception with Susan Joy Hassol, the movie’s writer, on the CU Boulder campus.

“Challenges in Attribution of Weather and Climate Extremes,” hosted by the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR). April 30.
What? Randall Dole, the seminar’s speaker, is deputy director for research in the Physical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder.  He holds a doctorate in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dole’s research emphasizes the connections between weather and climate.  His published studies encompass phenomena associated with weather and climate extremes, including droughts, heat waves, tornadoes and extratropical cyclones.  Dole has served on numerous high-level service roles relevant to weather and climate, and he was one of the three scientific experts on the U.S. delegation for the IPCC Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis.”
Where? CSTPR Conference Room. Map
Time? 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Cost? Free

“Solar Probe and the Solar Wind: The First Mission to our Nearest Star,” hosted by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). May 2.
What? LASP researcher David Malaspina will discuss the Solar Probe+ mission to study the sun.  This mission will send a spacecraft closer to the sun than ever before with the goal of answering a fundamental question: “How does the sun interact with the solar system?”  By repeatedly sampling the near-sun environment, the Solar Probe+ will answer other questions that have been ranked as top priorities by heliophysicists for decades, such as the origin and evolution of solar wind and the kind of interplanetary dust close to the sun.  The seminar will also describe the Solar Probe+ itself, including its scientific instruments and challenges to its survival, such as temperatures of up to 2,600 Fahrenheit.
Where? LASP Space Technology Building (LSTB)-299, Auditorium. Directions
Time? 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Cost? Free

“Viewing of HBO’s Documentary: ‘Too Hot Not to Handle,’” hosted by the Forum on Science Ethics & Policy (FOSEP). May 2.
What? HBO’s 2006 documentary shows Americans experiencing climate change impacts and features leading scientists explaining these changes.  The second half of the films is devoted to solutions available now to help address the climate challenge.  The viewing will be followed by a discussion and reception with the movie’s writer Susan Joy Hassol. Hassol is the Director of Climate Communication, based in Boulder, Colorado.  She’s worked for over 20 years to communicate the science of climate change to policy makers, the media and the public.
Where? CU Boulder, Eaton Humanities, room 250. Map
Time? 5:30 p.m.
Cost? Free

The List: Science and Environment Happenings in and Around Boulder

Saturn’s moon Tethys with its prominent Odysseus Crater silently slips behind Saturn’s largest moon Titan. (Photo/NASA)

At the 2009 and 2010 annual global talks on issues surrounding climate change, sponsored by the United Nations, developing nations were promised billions of dollars for climate change adaptation measures and to make their energy systems less-carbon intensive.  How was this promise handled — was the money ever granted, or used for the intended purposes? A seminar held on CU Boulder’s campus this week will discuss the critical issue of climate finance.

Other events in Boulder this week will focus on the state of environmental law and how the unique chemistry of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, may provide clues for the origin of life on the universe.  On Wednesday, Novelist Kent Haruf will receive the Wallace Stegner Award, the Center of the American West’s highest honor. Read more

Coming to Terms with Turbulence

by Rosalind O’Brien

This Landsat 7 image of clouds off the Chilean coast near the Juan Fernandez Islands on September 15, 1999 shows a unique pattern called a "von Kármán vortex street." Study of this classic flow past a circular cylinder has been very important in the understanding of laminar and turbulent fluid flow that controls a wide variety of phenomena, from the lift under an aircraft wing to Earth's weather. Photo/NASA

“Turbulence is the graveyard of theories,” according to the renowned physicist Hans W. Liepmann, but scientists haven’t given up yet. Based on a turbulence lecture given by Prof. Mark Rast at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics last Wednesday, it’s at least going to be a full and interesting graveyard.

Turbulence, in this context, is a specific physical phenomenon that describes the chaotic motion that can occur in fluids—both liquids and gases—when their molecules collide. Although many of us are unaware of it, turbulence occurs all around us, all the time.

The air behind an airplane and the water in an eddy are turbulent; they move chaotically at many scales, from those that humans can see and feel, all the way down to individual molecules.

Why does this matter? Rast provided plenty of reasons. Turbulence is why your car uses more gas when you go faster. When you’re driving, your car is slicing through the air in front of it. The faster you drive, the more difficult it is for air to converge immediately behind your car. This creates a sort of vacuum near your bumper, where air is moving chaotically, sucking your car backward ever so slightly. In other words, turbulence causes drag. Turbulence is therefore a very relevant concept in the automotive industry—it has literally shaped our cars. Read more

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