It’s Science Thursday for the City Beat today.
I went to that test of unmanned aircraft at Camp Grafton South, but the actual story will have to wait until Saturday. There were some technical difficulties when I was there, which, I understand, is pretty normal in R&D. I hope they got rid of the bugs later in the day, otherwise it’s kind of a funny story.
When I got back I was told to call Dr. Jianglong Zhang, an atmospheric sciences professor at UND. Dr. Zhang got recognized by President Obama as one of 100 young scientific talents in the country and that’s kind of a big deal.
I like talking with scientists and trying to decipher what they’re trying to say. In this case, Dr. Zhang described his research specialty as aerosols, their behavior in the atmosphere and how that affects climate change.
Aerosols are basically the scientific term for particles or droplets suspended in the air. I thought it was just for hairspray and deodorant. Anyway, these particles and droplets can reflect solar energy or absorb it, which can warm up or cool down the earth.
There are so many kinds of aerosols with so many varying properties that it’s hard to track them and study them. Dr. Zhang said it’s a new field, so new that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks it’s a key area of study since so little is known.
(Here’s what the IPCC has to say in a 2001 report. I actually have no clear idea what it’s trying to say.)
I didn’t ask how Dr. Zhang is improving ways to study aerosols because that would’ve made for too long a story at this point. But his doctoral dissertation provides a clue: "Satellite remote sensing of aerosol direct radiative forcing over global oceans."
I’m sorry this post is short, but I spent a lot of time on the road today and I’m wiped out.