February 09, 2013
Bright Blankets And Boating Bonanzas: How Do Clouds And Ice Affect Our Planet?
An interactive session led by Dr. Jennifer Kay
Project Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Climate and Global Dynamics (CGD) Division, Boulder CO
I often get curious stares when I mention that I study clouds and ice for a living. Most people want to know: Why are clouds and ice important? Clouds influence Earth's climate because they are bright blankets. Clouds cool outside temperatures because they are bright and they reflect the suns rays, but clouds also warm outside temperatures by keeping heat in like blankets. Perhaps you have noticed the competing effects of bright blanket clouds on the climate around you? Why is a clear day warmer than a cloudy day, but a cloudy night warmer than a clear night? The relationship between Earth's climate and ice is pretty simple. When the Earth's surface warms, ice melts, and the ocean expands. Why does a warming climate lead to a boating bonanza? If all the ice on our planet melted, sea level would rise over 200 feet. With that much more water in the ocean, coastlines would move inland and the area of the ocean would expand. Sea ice, frozen ocean water that floats, is different than a glacier, which consist of ice formed on land from compressed snow. Unlike melting glaciers, melting sea ice doesn’t increase sea level. But, when sea ice melts, you don't need an ice-breaker to navigate the polar oceans. Where could you go in a boat in a warmer world that you couldn't go now? We’ll use hands-on demonstrations to explore the influence of clouds and ice on Earth's climate and I’ll take all as many questions as time allows. Hope to see you there!
Who am I [Personal Website]
I work as a project scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder Colorado. I analyze data from satellites and ground-based stations, run climate models on supercomputers, and work with smart and curious collaborators to understand the weather patterns. I am particularly interested in what we might expect for clouds and ice as the climate warms. I am a cloud and ice scientist. My job exists because clouds and ice have a profound impact on our climate.
February 2013 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Bowling Green State University community.