Understanding Climate

understanding climate

The amount and type of vegetation found at the Earth's surface--be it forests or agricultural fields--has a significant impact on the interaction between the land and atmosphere, including the absorption of solar energy and the evaporation of water. That interaction influences cloud cover and the exchange of carbon dioxide, among other factors, ultimately driving the climate system. Yet, climate models used to forecast global climate and local weather patterns contain little detail about land cover.

How does it Work?

The DiVE gives you a picture of the data that you can process intuitively, looking from different angles or directions to see into space. You can drag things around and explore in a way that is almost impossible through traditional analytical techniques, if you are not yet sure what you are looking for. Once you've identified and understand a pattern, classical statistics can then be employed.

With the aid of time spent in the Duke Immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE), surrounded on all sides by virtual breeze and trees, civil and environmental engineering (CEE) graduate student Gil Bohrer is getting a better handle on exactly how wind flows through the forest, information that might ultimately improve the next generation of climate models. His work done under the guidance of CEE Professor Roni Avissar is supported by the National Science Foundation. Above forests, Bohrer has found that the wind acts like a big wave, tripping over the tree canopy and rolling all over. Now and again, a fast-moving vortex of air pops up, dragging heat and moisture into the atmosphere. The effort has led to the discovery that such "ejections events" usually happen from "valleys," areas where the tree tops are shorter or where there are gaps between trees.

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