Winter 2011

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.

Night Lights

ESRL researchers find small but significant effect of nighttime city lighting on air pollution

Every night, the cities of the Los Angeles Basin throw a dome of light into the dark sky, cast by millions of street lamps and other outdoor lights. That glow is 10,000 times dimmer than sunlight, but still powerful enough to influence chemistry affecting air pollution, ESRL scientists discovered. more...

Air Cleanser

ESRL-led team measures the variability of the atmosphere’s self-cleaning capacity

An international, ESRL-led research team took a significant step forward in understanding the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of many air pollutants and some other gases. The issue has been controversial for many years, with some studies suggesting the self-cleaning power of the atmosphere is fragile and sensitive to environmental changes, while others suggest greater stability. And what researchers are finding is that the atmosphere’s self-cleaning capacity is rather stable. more...

Snow and Warming

Northern Hemisphere could warm further in response to lost snow

Racing down a ski slope or snowshoeing across a ridge, it is not obvious that the snow covering the ground isn’t just a product of the weather – it also influences the weather. A white blanket of snow can simultaneously trap heat in the ground and reflect solar radiation back into the atmosphere or out to space, much like a mirror reflects visible light.

“When you change the amount of snow, you change how much heat flows between the atmosphere and ground,” said Mike Alexander of ESRL’s Physical Sciences Division. more...

Director's Corner

What is the Role of NOAA’s Research Laboratories?

Last week I attended the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society. In the last 30 years I have only missed one of these meetings, so it is a chance to renew longtime friendships and to catch up on the progress of our profession. The Seattle meeting did not disappoint and the contributions of ESRL were much in evidence. Our work included interesting papers on understanding the climate system, the exciting results we are getting in model assimilation, and the leading edge of global and regional models. I went to a talk by Stan Benjamin on the High Resolution Rapid Refresh, and the excitement about this new model slated for operations was palpable. more...

AMS Experiment

ESRL researcher, colleagues set up equipment to measure human impact on meeting environment

Peggy LeMone, president of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), had an inspiration for this year’s annual conference. Since the theme was about communicating climate, she wanted an informal, real-time experiment run during the conference, to demonstrate how people affect the environment.

LeMone asked meteorologists Dan Wolfe of ESRL’s Physical Sciences Division and Collin Daly of Campbell Scientific, both of them experts in creating and deploying meteorological instruments, to develop a monitoring system to measure room conditions and changes during AMS. more...

Young Students Film Scientists

February gala features NOAA-funded Earth Explorers videos

What do you wear in Antarctica? Does taking a tree core hurt the tree? What is a laser, anyway? Several dozen middle school students from Longmont’s Trail Ridge Middle School peppered ESRL and other Boulder-area scientists with questions during hours of interviews last fall. more...

By the Numbers

The Day vs. LA

Nighttime lights in the Los Angeles Basin shine 10,000 times less intensely than the Sun, but 25 times more than the full moon. That’s bright enough to trigger some unexpected chemistry. See “Night Lights" in this edition.

ESRL in Cancun

Ravishankara, Schnell give key state-of-the science presentations

ESRL’s Russ Schnell and A.R. Ravishankara were among a few dozen U.S. scientists chosen to speak publically during international climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico this fall. The two gave independent talks at the U.S. State Department-sponsored “U.S. Center” during negotiations of the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in December. more...

Understanding Atmospheric Boundaries

International “DynVar” workshop focuses on the climate-relevant connections between the troposphere and stratosphere

Atmospheric researchers haven’t always crossed boundaries fluidly. There were those who focused on the troposphere, the layer of air down near Earth’s surface, where most of our weather phenomena occur and which has been warming. And those whose sights were set higher, in the stratosphere, where ozone depletion has been among the main events in recent decades. more...

Now Boarding...Weather!

ESRL scientists seek to improve aviation efficiency by developing highly accurate and timely weather information for integration into air traffic management operations

Managing commercial air traffic is difficult enough without having to worry about weather. To keep increasing numbers of airplanes away from one another and on track, most air traffic controllers and managers rely on technologies, some of which are significantly less powerful than their own smart phones. NOAA researchers are helping to develop and test weather-related concepts for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). more...

Steven Koch to Lead NSSL

Director of ESRL’s Global Systems Division will move to National Severe Storms Laboratory



ESRL innovations, job fair at Supercomputing conference

NOAA participation included technical presentations, hosted a booth, and the job fair. Researchers discussed Graphics Processing Units and how to use the processors – designed to improve video games – in weather and climate modeling. They highlighted the NOAA Global Interoperability Project, and unveiled N-NEW, a next-generation, secure network to serve the weather and climate research community. more...

Building the NextGen 4-D Data Cube

The second annual Interagency Weather Research Review and Coordination Meeting

The collaboration with participants from NASA, NOAA, NCAR, and the FAA addressed critical issues in numerical weather prediction, from observational needs, testbeds, and demonstrations to forecasting of convection, ceiling and visibility, turbulence, in-flight icing, volcanic ash, and other factors. more...

Achievement: Honors

The 2011 George W. Goddard award from SPIE, NOAA Research Employee of the Year, 2010 Alan Berman Research Publication Award, NOAA Distinguished Career Award and AGU Roger Revelle Medal. more...

News in Brief

Ozone Assessment Out. Permafrost’s Warm Future. Atmospheric Rivers by UAS. Reanalysis Published. NACHTT at Night. Science Games Summit. Renewable Support. Reaching Teachers. more...

Achievement: Publications

ESRL’s peer-reviewed publications are available in a searchable database:

Division Publication pages: