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332 Landslide

332 Landslide

February 2, 2011

US Storm an Opportunity for Research

With more than 6300 (some estimates say 10000+) flights cancelled due to the massive storm covering two thirds of the US, this could prove to be a twice in a lifetime opportunity for scientists to study our low atmosphere with significantly reduced airplane emissions.

The last time was Sept. 11th 2001.

"The national airspace was shut down for three days, something that had not yet occurred since the jet age began in the 1960s and is not likely to occur ever again. Scientists took advantage of this unique three day period in history that lacked contrails. What they learned was shocking and is enough evidence to effectively silence any counterargument to their case. One measure of climate is the average daily temperature range (DTR). For thirty years this had been recorded and extra cirrus clouds in the atmosphere would reduce this range by trapping heat. “September 11 – 14, 2001 had the biggest diurnal temperature range of any three-day period in the past 30 years,” said Andrew M. Carleton1. Not in three decades had there been such a large temperature spread between the daytime highs and the nighttime lows. Furthermore, the increase in DTR during those three days was more than double the national average for regions of the United States where contrail coverage was previously known to be most abundant, such as the Midwest, northeast, and northwest regions. The specific increase in the range was 2°F, which in three days was twice the amount the average temperature had increased by over thirty years time1." (1. Carleton, Andrew M. “Climatology: Contrails Reduce Daily Temperature Range.” Nature. 8 August 2002.) By Nick Onkow

"Contrails form a layer of high clouds that seem to cool things off during the day. However, that effect is deceptive. It turns out that the clouds also reduce the temperature difference between night and day by trapping "long-wave radiation" -- which means heat -- and not letting it escape into outer space. "They tend to heat the upper troposphere more than they warm the surface," explained Patrick Minnis of NASA's Langley Research Center. "The debate now is whether the warming is larger than the albedo."" Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News

"I remember walking to and from my office (during that time) and thinking how incredibly clear the skies were," recalled Carleton. He mentioned this to a colleague and former doctoral-degree student of his, David Travis of the University of Wisconsin, who had noticed the same thing. "Then we started thinking that we should look at the temperature conditions" during those days in September and compare them to years past, Carleton said." Physorg

Of course, considering the condition of the skies, the research will probably need to be accomplished via satellite. Infrared, radar etc. I can't wait to see what new information comes to put the silver lining on this very dark cloud. (well, dark from below, quite bright from above)

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