Frightful Weather? What’s the Research Say?

by Nancy DuVergne Smith on January 10, 2014

in Energy, Science

MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences takes the pulse of the weather and planetary changes from the ocean depths to deep space. Learn what phenomena influence today’s weather as well as the future of the planet. Here are a few research highlights:

oceans-EArthBigger Storms Ahead

For the past 40 years—as far back as satellite records show—the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones has remained relatively stable: About 90 of these storms spin through the world each year. But according to a report by MIT’s Kerry Emanuel, the coming century may whip up stronger and more frequent storms.

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold?

Some 40 billion Earth-like planets have been discovered in the so-called Goldilocks Zone. NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook reports on research by Sara Seager, astrophysicist and planetary scientist, and colleauges in “Earth 2.0? Billions of Reasons Why It’s Possible.”

Weather in a Tank

Fluid dynamics plays a central role in determining Earth’s climate. Ocean currents and eddies stir up contents from the deep, while atmospheric winds and weather systems steer temperature and moisture around the globe. A demonstration called Weather in a Tank—a clear circular basin of water on a rotating platform that simulates Earth’s spin—illustrates weather phenomena such as atmospheric cyclones, fronts, jets, and ocean currents and eddies.

And for a little history…

Modern meteorology arrives at MIT.

Modern meteorology arrives at MIT.

Wind, War and Weathermen

Learn how a Swedish bon vivant let MIT introduce modern meteorology to America—just in time to help the Allies win World War II.

When the Butterfly Effect Took Flight

While simulating weather patterns 50 years ago, Edward Lorenz, SM ′43, ScD ′48, overthrew the idea of the clockwork universe with his ground-breaking research on chaos.

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