The goal of projects supported by grants from the Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) program--including studies of Rocky Mountain pine beetles, Los Angeles' water supply and the Sierra Nevada snowpack--is to understand and predict the interactions of Earth's water system with climate change, land use, the built environment and ecosystem function and services. Read more in this news release.
Credit: Jim Wark
The HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observation (HIPPO) project has generated the first detailed mapping--both vertically and across latitudes--of the global distribution of greenhouse gases, black carbon and related chemical species in the atmosphere. Read more in this Discovery.
Credit: Animations courtesy of R. Bradley Pierce, NOAA/NESDIS/STAR
From the sprawling dome of Mauna Loa--11,000 feet above Hawaii's coconut-fringed beaches--climate scientists David Noone and Joe Galewsky can track water vapor that has traveled as far as the equator and the pole. They're the first to try to measure vapor's chemical signature in real-time in order to understand the processes controlling the global water cycle. Read more in this Discovery.
Credit: CIRES, University of Colorado at Boulder
The Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) of the Directorate for Geosciences, supports research to add new understanding of the behavior of the Earth's atmosphere and its interactions with the sun.
This image captures the distribution of water vapor in the atmosphere at one moment in time during a climate simulation by the National Center for Atmospheric Research-based Community Climate System Model. Climate models rely on supercomputers to simulate the complexities of past, present or future climate.
June 24, 2013
Water Isotopes Leave Fingerprints for Climate Scientists
Researchers study water vapor to learn more about the water cycle and impacts of climate change
University of Colorado meteorologist David Noone and his team are working to understand how water moves around the planet. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project team observes and analyzes the stable isotope composition of water vapor and precipitation, primarily at the 300-meter (984-foot) Boulder Atmospheric Observatory tower.
The measurements are made using an optical measurement technology which has only recently become available, and which allows continuous in situ observations to be made on a practical basis. The ratio of heavier to lighter isotopes in water vapor contains information including the source region for the water vapor that falls as rain, which can be used to determine the extent to which rainwater comes directly from the ocean or from evaporation and plant transpiration over land.
"David's work shows that isotopic composition can tell us a great deal about the sources and pathways of the rainwater that's so critical for us and our environment," says Eric DeWeaver, a program director in the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division of the Directorate for Geosciences. "This is exciting research and it's also a great example of participatory science, in which middle school students can make an important contribution to the research while at the same time learning about the hydrological cycle."
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.