How the bomb could help us predict next month's weather

September 24, 2012

Technology first used to listen for secret H-bomb tests could now help forecasters tell us what the weather's going to be like up to a month in advance.

That's one of the aims of an exciting new international research project which is holding its first scientific meeting at the University of Reading this week.

Sixty experts from around the world are meeting to discuss developments in the European-funded ARISE project (Atmospheric dynamics Research and Infrastructure in Europe), which aims to improve measurements in the Earth's stratosphere and mesosphere.

The project follows recent studies that show the upper layers of the earth's could provide crucial information to provide more accurate longer-term , on timescales up to four weeks ahead.

Andrew Charlton-Perez, from the University of Reading, is one of the meteorologists helping to run the event.

Dr Charlton-Perez said: "We know much less about the than we know about what happens closer to Earth, but evidence increasingly shows that what happens up there has a big impact on our weather and climate down here.

"We're thrilled to invite this leading group of scientists to Reading, where some of the world authorities on the subject work every day within Reading's Department of Meteorology and Walker Institute. We believe our work could help people in the future to plan their lives and activities around more accurate longer-term weather forecasts."

The meeting will discuss three new measurement techniques. One system, atmospheric infrasound, has grown out of the monitoring network set up to enforce the comprehensive nuclear weapons test ban treaty.

The system works by listening for very low-frequency in the atmosphere generated by loud noises, such as crashing together and volcanic eruptions, as well as noise from and man-made explosions. The technology monitors the stratosphere by looking for changes in the refracting layers of infrasound.

Scientists will also discuss developments with stratospheric LiDAR, which measures particles high in the atmosphere by firing a high-powered laser vertically into the sky, and mesospheric airglow, which examines light emissions and other radiation in the highest reaches of the upper atmosphere, 80-100km above the surface.

Explore further: Columbia Team Shows How Stratospheric Conditions Affect Weather

Related Stories

NASA explores Earth's upper atmosphere

January 24, 2006

NASA scientists are conducting field experiments to more closely explore the Earth's upper atmosphere to better predict future climate changes.

The inaudible symphony analyzed

November 3, 2008

By measuring 'inaudible' sounds, events like illegal nuclear tests can be detected. This 'infrasound' can also help us understand more about the upper atmosphere, according to Läslo Evers. Evers will receive a PhD based ...

Climate change from black carbon depends on altitude

April 14, 2011

Scientists have known for decades that black carbon aerosols add to global warming. These airborne particles made of sooty carbon are believed to be among the largest man-made contributors to global warming because they absorb ...

Recommended for you

New study sheds light on end of Snowball Earth period

August 24, 2015

The second ice age during the Cryogenian period was not followed by the sudden and chaotic melting-back of the ice as previously thought, but ended with regular advances and retreats of the ice, according to research published ...

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (1) Sep 24, 2012
If infrasonic signals can be correlated with varying local magnetic field strengths during auroral displays as discovered by (Procunier 1971), and these auroral displays are in fact part of larger birkeland currents, is it possible that what they are observing are in fact the varying magnetic fields of the electric currents flowing through the atmosphere that are causing the weather?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.