|A Tel Aviv Univ. researcher has developed surprising tool to measure our changing climate.|
Detailed in the Journal of Geophysical Research, this simple, cost-effective measurement can be a valuable contribution to the ongoing effort to track climate change, says Price, adding to measurements of ground and lower atmospheric temperatures to create a more holistic picture.
On the Earth's surface and in the lower atmosphere, an increase of greenhouse gases has a warming effect, the gases acting as a "blanket" and keeping heat from escaping from the Earth into space. But these gases, including carbon dioxide, are increasing in the upper atmosphere as well, where they have a cooling effect.
When cooled, the ionosphere contracts and descends into the atmosphere to where air is denser—leading to a higher absorption of radio waves, Price explains. By examining satellite-gathered data on the temperature in the upper atmosphere and comparing results to measurements of radio wave amplitudes collected on the ground, the researchers were able to uncover a clear correlation, consistent over time. As the upper atmosphere gets colder, radio signals lose their strength.
According to Prof. Price, this new technique will be a valuable addition to current methods of monitoring climate change, such as the measurement of ground temperatures. Without the need for expensive equipment like satellites, monitoring the upper atmosphere can be done inexpensively and continuously.
R&D Mag: Radio waves carry news of climate change