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November-December 2010

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Weather Front

Dance of the Clouds

Those who have looked up at the sky and imagined a boiling cauldron of clouds, or a well-coordinated dance between the ethereal elements, have envisioned a truth that scientists are just now parsing out. Fields of clouds move in synchrony and communicate, as a recent study suggests, to create a honeycomb pattern of walls and clearings that constantly shift and redistribute themselves.

Reporting in the journal Nature, researcher Graham Feingold of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, explained how a field of clouds organizes into distinct patterns that oscillate in unison and produce regular periodic rainfall interspersed with clearing.

Green Sea Gives Strength to Tropical Storms

Hurricanes and typhoons prefer green, at least according to a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters. In that study, researchers reported that typhoon formation decreased by 70 percent in model simulations of the North Pacific ocean when they removed all the chlorophyll—the green pigment found in phytoplankton, which is responsible for the ocean's color.

Soot to Save Arctic Ice?

Reducing soot in the air just may be the only way to save Arctic sea ice, according to Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford University's Atmosphere/Energy Program.

Jacobson's work, recently published in Atmospheres, the Journal of Geophysical Research, shows that soot emissions from the burning of fossil fuel, wood, and dung are second only to carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. “We have to start taking its effects into account in planning our mitigation efforts, and the sooner we start making changes, the better,” Jacobson said.

Improving Winter Forecasts

As winter descends over the northern hemisphere, new research from North Carolina State University (NCSU) may help us to know what kind of weather to expect. Researchers there say they have developed a way to improve the accuracy of winter precipitation and temperature forecasts.

KIMBRA CUTLIP is a freelance writer and former assistant editor for Weatherwise.

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