Lexington, Massachusetts — July 20, 2007 — Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc. (AER), a leader in earth, ocean, atmosphere, and space science R&D, announced a major new development that will impact global warming and climate change predictions. Supported by the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM)Program, AERs rapid radiative transfer model for short wave energy has recently proven to be very effective in improving operational weather forecasts. The potential impact on global climate models is now under study.
The importance of this advance is that all global warming and climate change predictions are based on models of the atmosphere, and in these models the depiction of clouds and how clouds interact with the scattering of sunlight is crucial to calculating the heating of the atmosphere, stated Dr. Ross Hoffman, Vice President of Research & Development at AER. "More accurate simulation of cloudiness means more accurate forecasts of climate change due to CO2 increases."
AERs scientists helped solve a long-standing problem of over predicting clouds over the oceans. The AER radiation model simulates the processes of absorption and scattering of sunlight in the atmosphere by gases such as CO2 and ozone, as well as water vapor, and by particles including water drops in cloud and various types of dust, including smog. Water, both as vapor and in clouds is the most important and most variable substance in the atmosphere. Using observations of water vapor, temperature, and solar and infrared radiation from instruments at the ARM Program field measurement sites, AER scientists conducted experiments to refine their radiation model. Last month, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts implemented the AER radiation model in conjunction with an improved method to depict the detailed structure of cloudiness developed by scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Environment Canada (EC). The Centre reported a significant improvement for all forecasts in the tropics. Of note for climate studies, the new technique more accurately predicts fewer low clouds over the oceans.
Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. (www.aer.com), established in 1977 and headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, is an award winning environmental research and consulting company with demonstrated expertise in remote sensing, radiative transfer, ensemble weather prediction, oceanography, space weather, atmospheric modeling, planetary sciences, and a provider of medium and long range forecasts for the Energy and Financial Markets.