Currents Archive

Picture of a plane getting deiced on the runway Traveling this holiday season? While congestion and bad weather can cause headaches, decades of research into seemingly arcane atmospheric topics, like how ice crystals form in clouds or the effect of solar heat on asphalt and concrete, may well smooth your journey. Here are five ways that NCAR research makes travel better now and throughout the year:
still from 3D animation shows ocean swell motion propagating into the atmosphere November 10, 2015 | Scientists have long been interested in studying how winds influence ocean waves.  NCAR Senior Scientist Peter Sullivan wanted to examine the relationship in reverse: How do waves affect the atmosphere? "Most people focus on winds influencing waves because it’s the easiest to study in a laboratory," Sullivan said. "But nature works the other way, too."
scientific visualization shows Hurricane Patricia October 23, 2015 | As the most intense hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere, Hurricane Patricia is taking direct aim at Mexico’s Pacific coast and expected to spawn impacts as far away as Texas and the central United States.
Visualizations of Earth, air, fire, and water October 12, 2015 | We're excited it's Earth Science Week, and even more excited about this year's theme—visualizing Earth systems—because it happens to be one of the things NCAR does best. NCAR visualizations cover the spectrum, from Earth to air to fire to water.  
3D visualization of 2014 Hurricane Odile October 2, 2015 | A remarkably detailed visualization of last year’s Hurricane Odile is helping scientists better understand major storms. NCAR employed the kind of 3D software used in Hollywood movies to provide multiple perspectives within the storm, including the complex interaction between the hurricane and steep terrain.
possible ice-free future for the Arctic: still image from sea ice visualization September 16, 2015 | The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced yesterday that sea ice in the Arctic had dwindled to the fourth lowest extent since satellites began capturing images of the area in 1979. All nine of the lowest sea ice extents have occurred in the last nine years, according to the NSIDC.
Sea surface temperatures on Aug. 3 in 1997 and 2015 September 3, 2015 | The El Niño brewing in the tropical Pacific is on track to become one of the strongest such events in recorded history and may even warm its way past the historic 1997-98 El Niño.
Climate and extreme weather: cracked, dry soil in Colorado June 22, 2015 | When a deadly heat wave lingers for an especially long time; when a hurricane makes landfall with particular ferocity; or when droughts, winter storms or cold snaps break records, the public is increasingly interested in knowing if human-induced climate change played a role. Attributing individual extreme weather events to a warming climate is difficult work. Even so, scientists have been making an effort in recent years to determine when a connection can be detected.
Impacts of atmospheric waves: Photo of EISCAT Svalbard incoherent scatter radar February 24, 2015 | Earth’s weather extends into higher regions of the atmosphere than the one we inhabit. But the influence of those regions has been challenging to chart until recently. Researchers at NCAR and elsewhere are using a range of observing and modeling tools to discern previously unmapped links between weather events in various layers of the atmosphere, with implications for aviation, GPS, and other technology society relies on.
Snowfall measurement: cars buried under lots of snow Matt Kelsch • January 28, 2014 | As this week’s blizzard rumbled toward the U.S. Northeast, many media outlets posted the top-10 snow events for major cities. An unusual number of snowfalls in those top 10 lists have been within the last 20 years, even in cities that have records going back to the 1800s. Why is that? Could it be climate change? Are other factors involved?