Monday, July 21, 2008

Monsoon and aquaplanet

It is always exhilarating to see new science ideas especially when it tends to renovate, revamp, or revolutionize the old ones. The news release from Caltech yesterday announcing
"a new explanation for the formation of monsoons, proposing an overhaul of a theory about the cause of the seasonal pattern of heavy winds and rainfall that essentially had held firm for more than 300 years"
is such a case.

The new explanation, advanced by Tapio Schneider of Caltech and Simona Bordoni of NCAR who is joining Caltech, was based on a computer-generated, water-covered, hypothetical earth, the aquaplanet, "to simulate monsoon formation and found that differences in heat capacities between land and sea were not necessary". As
Monsoons arise instead because of an interaction between the tropical circulation and large-scale turbulent eddies generated in the atmosphere in middle latitudes. These eddies, which can span more than 300 miles across, form the familiar systems that govern the weather in middle latitudes.
These eddies, Schneider explains:
are "basically large waves, which crash into the tropical circulation. They 'break,' much like water waves on the beach, and modify the circulation as a result of the breaking. There are feedbacks between the circulation, the wind pattern associated with it in the upper atmosphere, and the propagation characteristics of the waves, which make it possible for the circulation to change rapidly." This can quickly generate the characteristic high surface winds and heavy rainfall of the monsoon.
And Bordoni adds:
"These feedbacks provide one possible explanation for the rapidity of monsoon onset, which had been a long-standing conundrum in the traditional view of monsoons," because substantial differences between land and sea temperatures can only develop slowly through heating by sunlight.
Schneider also suggests: "in the long run, a better understanding of monsoons may lead to better predictions with semi-empirical models, but much more work needs to be done."

Their paper, "Monsoons as eddy-mediated regime transitions of the tropical overturning circulation," appearing in the advance online edition of Nature Geosciences is certainly represents a breath of fresh air in a long stagnant modern science world that's been staked with guarded establishment, sacred conventionalism, and unproven innuendos pretend as science.

What is really pertubing to me is noticing the strange fact that this exciting news release has been pretty much totally ignored by the "news establishment". Clearly the "drive-by" news world has absolutely no room for reporting real science accomplishment that does not imply any wrong doing that American people are guilty of.

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