A University of Utah atmospheric scientist, Gerald “Jay” Mace, is heading back to Tasmania to study clouds in a special part of Earth’s atmosphere: the Southern Ocean, which contains some of the cleanest air on Earth. Mace is the lead scientist of the Cloud And Precipitation Experiment at Kennaook (CAPE-K) is scheduled to run from April 2024 to September 2025 in northwestern Tasmania.
The experiment, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, will fill in knowledge gaps about the seasonal cycle of clouds and precipitation over the Southern Ocean. As a result, these data are expected to have big impacts on regional and global climate modeling.
Climate projections for the entire Earth are sensitive to interactions of aerosols, clouds and precipitation in the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean. Seasonal variations in Southern Ocean aerosol properties are well documented, but to improve the accuracy of climate models, scientists need more information about the properties of low clouds and precipitation in the region.
Human activity is changing atmospheric chemistry—even in remote places—that could alter how and when clouds form.
That’s the conclusion of a new study from University of Utah scientists and colleagues, which finds that measurements at a laboratory on a mountaintop in Colorado show new aerosol particles forming in the air on average every other day and that those particles, likely formed from gases emitted by nearby power plants, can grow until they’re big enough for water to condense around, forming clouds.
UTA Trax cars zip from University hills to west-side valleys, past schools, shops and churches. Carrying more than just passengers, these cars hold research-grade air quality sensors. Soon they’ll carry something else: segments of public art piece In Search of Blue Sky, decorating Trax car interiors and the sides of public buses. The installation seeks both to raise community awareness of the air quality data and embed it with personal meaning. “Just putting data out there doesn’t move people, doesn’t change people,” says Wendy Wischer, the project’s artist. “Artwork can pull at emotions, and to act, we need to be moved emotionally.”
Today's marine giants -- such as blue and humpback whales -- routinely make massive migrations across the ocean to breed and give birth. Now, new research suggests that nearly 200 million years before giant whales evolved, school bus-sized marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs may have been making similar migrations to breed and give birth together in relative safety. The findings examine a rich fossil bed in the renowned Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, where many 50-foot-long ichthyosaurs (Shonisaurus popularis) lay petrified in stone.