ARM Program Develops Education Tool Focused on Tropical Climate
Media Contact: Lynne Roeder, 509.372.4331
A new educational kiosk on tropical climate, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, is now in place for visitors to Australia's "Top End"—the colloquialism used to describe the north end of Australia's Northern Territory. By visiting the museum in Darwin, teachers, students and visitors in the Northern Territory can use the kiosk to learn about climate change in the global "warm pool"—the equatorial western Pacific region which features the warmest sea surface temperatures on earth. Copies of the kiosk DVD are available free of charge to educators around the world for classroom use.
Titled Climate Change: Science and Traditional Knowledge, this hands-on learning tool provides information about tropical climate from several perspectives. The kiosk components include footage of interviews with atmospheric scientists, local fishermen, traditional land owners, and members of Australia's Aboriginal community. The interviews focus on the science and impacts of climate change in Darwin, as well as general information about climate change research.
"The wet season is falling very short—we're not getting rain like we used to and the country dries up quicker," said local Darwin landowner Victor Cooper.
The ARM Program, sponsored by the DOE Office of Science, was created to help resolve scientific uncertainties related to global climate change, with a specific focus on the crucial role of clouds and their influence on incoming and outgoing energy (called radiative feedback) through earth's atmosphere. Since April 2002, the ARM Program has collaborated with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to operate its research facility in Darwin. The Darwin location was chosen along with two other tropical sites—Manus Island in Papua, New Guinea and the island nation of Nauru—to provide scientists with measurements for a unique set of climate conditions not seen anywhere else in the world.
"The tropical western Pacific warm pool acts as a significant driver of global circulation. This is easy to see in the case of El Niño events, which occur in the warm pool area. The observational record shows that a strong El Niño can shift rainfall patterns at places all around the globe, causing droughts and flooding in extreme cases, even here in Australia," said Dr. Charles N. Long, site scientist for ARM's climate research facilities in the tropical western Pacific.
"The measurements made here at Darwin, and at our Manus and Nauru sites, are aimed squarely at the task of increasing our knowledge of climate systems such as the warm pool regime. By improving the representation of cloud and radiative interactions and feedbacks in computer models that simulate climate, we might better predict such events," Dr. Long explained. This improved prediction capability can then be the scientific basis for decisions needed to address the serious health and economic impacts of such events.
The kiosk will remain on permanent display at the museum, and is part of the ARM Program's education and outreach component, which promotes science education by providing news, information and resources about climate research to teachers and students. A kiosk on Arctic climate was dedicated in Barrow, Alaska in 2003. For more information about these resources, visit the ARM Education Center web site at http://education.arm.gov.
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The ARM Program—the Department of Energy's largest global change research program—was created to help resolve scientific uncertainties related to global climate change. Its specific focus is on the crucial role of clouds and their influence on radiative feedback processes in the atmosphere.
For more information about the ARM Program, visit www.arm.gov.