Scientists Gather to Study the Arctic Climate

FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Will it be hot and sunny tomorrow, or will it rain? Call a weather forecaster. But will it be generally hotter or cooler in 100 years? Call a climatologist.

This week climate researchers are discussing the complex interactions of the oceans, ice, and atmosphere in the Arctic at a workshop on the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) campus. The researchers are specialists in the fields of atmosphere, ice and oceans.

Understanding the Arctic climate is important because global climate changes often show up first in the Arctic. This makes the Arctic the bellwether for predicting global climate change.

Many scientists test their theories about the Arctic using supercomputers that describe nature mathematically. This is called modelling. Scientists use supercomputers to model tiny snowflakes or the entire Arctic region. A complex supercomputer model will calculate the effect of ocean currents, wind, precipitation, ice cover, cloud cover, and seasonal changes on the Arctic climate.

The workshop, "High Latitude Ocean-Atmosphere-Ice Interactions: Measurements and Models," brings scientists together from many disciplines to share their observations and research. The workshop is sponsored by the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center and the Center for Global Change and Arctic System Research. More than 60 scientists from throughout the United States are attending.

Earlier this week scientists focused on a different discipline each day: atmosphere on Tuesday, ice on Wednesday, and oceans on Thursday. Tomorrow morning (10:40 a.m., Friday, July 29) a panel discussion is scheduled to summarize much of this research. The conference runs through Friday, July 29, at the Geophysical Institute on the UAF campus.

Several scientists at the workshop are modelling the complex Arctic climate systems using the powerful supercomputer called Denali at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center on the UAF campus.

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