Tag Archives: Planetary science

Nature Internship 2: More than a silver lining

nature_cover_0904092In my second week at Nature I’ve gotten to feel more like a member of the team, if being asked to write more and more is any measure. I’ve contributed more to news meetings, talked with my colleagues about their backgrounds and journalism plans over lunch, and begun working on an unusual feature slated to appear soon…but which will have to remain a mystery for now.

I wrote a news story about how clouds actually make the air around them brighter, a story that made made me feel better about living in Britain. I also wrote about a study in which economists were surprised to find that hormone treatment did not have an effect on how the women made economic decisions–something that recent reports hinted did happen in men.

The countries that run Antarctica are having their annual meeting in Baltimore, so I blogged about how US delegates are pushing for mandatory tourism limits. Finally, I summarized a report from entomologists who used a butterfly family tree to bolster a theory that butterflies use eyespot patterns on some parts of their wings to attract mates and patterns on other parts of their wings as camouflage from predators: [pdf].

More than a silver lining

A study looking at why clouds make the air near them glow more brightly suggests climate models may need to be revised.

Atmospheric scientists already account for the brighter air close to clouds, thanks to a 2007 study by Ilan Koren and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. The team showed that cloud droplets, attached to dust and smoke particles, float in a halo kilometres wide around clouds, bouncing sunlight back out of the atmosphere. Seen from a satellite, that means air close to clouds looks brighter.

Read the rest of the story on Nature’s new site: [html]

Internal Waves Beneath The Sea

November 2008

Seismologist W. Steven Holbrook and oceanographer Raymond Schmitt might be forgiven for talking past each other aboard a research cruise. Oceanographers normally drop probes overboard, measuring the ocean’s temperature, chemistry and motion. To seismologists, however, the ocean is in the way of their measurements: They typically tune their microphones to detect echoes from below the seafloor in search of clues about Earth’s structure. But over the past five years, Holbrook and Schmitt have learned to listen to each other — and to apply seismic techniques to hear hints of the ocean’s structure.

Continue reading Internal Waves Beneath The Sea

Seismic “Noise”–Oil Prospecting Data Could Decipher Ocean Mixing

Three decades ago researchers discovered what are essentially enormous saltwater lakes in the Atlantic Ocean. These “lakes,” called meddies, are gently spinning lenses of water up to 100 kilometers across and one kilometer thick. They float a few hundred meters below the surface of the ocean. Such large, warm bodies, which turned out to come from the Mediterranean Sea, should have an impact on heat exchange in the ocean—and on the planet’s climate. But efforts to study meddies—conventionally by dropping probes that directly measure the ocean’s temperature, salinity and velocity—have proved too costly, infrequent and spread out to reveal how the meddies dissipate their heat. Continue reading Seismic “Noise”–Oil Prospecting Data Could Decipher Ocean Mixing