New research site established in Australia to help predict climate change

Since acute weather conditions, like monsoons and drought, can wreak havoc on a region's economy and population, these events need to be accurately simulated and forecasted by weather and climate models. Drought and monsoons are conditions that occur at the U.S. Department of Energy's newest Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site in Darwin, Australia, a location that will enable scientists to collect new data important to refining computer models that simulate climate change.

United States and Australian officials will formally commission the Darwin site for research and operation on July 30, 2002, in Darwin. "Our collaboration with Australia in the establishment of this site represents an exciting expansion of the ARM program and our ongoing quest to understand and predict the earth's climate," U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said.

The Darwin Site is the fifth site established since DOE created the ARM program in 1989, and it is the first site established with an international research partner, Australia. The ARM program works to improve the atmospheric radiation and cloud physics in global climate models, thereby improving the simulations of climate change.

The other ARM sites are located in the Southern Great Plains and the North Slope of Alaska in the United States and in the Tropical Western Pacific (TWP), with individual sites situated on the islands of Manus and Nauru. The Darwin site represents the third site in the TWP. The sites have been strategically selected for diversity and significance of climate and cloud conditions.

The ARM program concentrates on the complex role and impact that clouds have on the energy balance of the climate system, an area that researchers think is critical for more accurate predictions for climate change. Clouds are the single largest factor in regulating the absorption of solar energy by the earth and an important factor in regulating the loss of infrared energy from the eart


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