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Supercomputing Challenge

Monsoon Rains in the Southwestern U.S.

Team: 83


Area of Science: Environmental Science

Problem: Can global warming warrant an effect on summer monsoon rains in the southwestern United States?

Definition: We plan to create a one-dimensional climate model that, among other basic physical processes, reflects energy of incoming and outgoing radiation. Using climate data to establish an understanding of temperature and the strength of a monsoon, we will conduct model testing demonstrating various scenarios.

Progress: We have acquired both a physical geography textbook and a climate modeling primer, along with countless web sites, during the course of our intensive research stage. In the process we have verified the immense complexity of Mother Nature and the weather that we experience day to day. Compiling enough data and information to begin our simple rain program in itself was intensive. We are currently programming this initial Rain Program. We will input constants and variables into it, such as humidity, adiabatic lapse rate, temperature (which affects dew point, condensation, and ice-crystal formation [the Bergeron process]) and the program will give us a simple answer in return: “Yes, it rained” or “No, it didn’t rain.” We have found that the two most important factors concerning chance of precipitation are ice crystal formation in clouds and the collision and coalescence of the water droplets in those clouds. Since coalescence and atmospheric electricity are the main mechanisms for rainfall usually in tropic regions, where cloud temperatures are not cold enough for ice-crystals to form, we will focus on only ice crystal formation as means of precipitation for this program. Once this program is completed, we will look at past days in Las Cruces when it did rain, input the temperature, humidity, etc… information from that day into our own program, and see if we get the same result. Once our Rain Program is running and credible, we will proceed to our main program.

Expected Results: We anticipate that our rain program will work, for one, and that it will beget similar results to actual rain days from the information we input into it. We expect that this initial test program will aid us in our main program and help us to understand the fundamentals of climate modeling.

Dr. Jack Wright, Head of the Geography Department at New Mexico State University
Dr. Dugas, Professor in Geography Department at New Mexico State University

A Climate Modelling Primer, Henderson-Sellers, Ann; McGuffie, Kendal; Third Edition, Copyright 2005 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., West Sussex, England

Climate System Modeling, Edited by Trenberth, Kevin E., Copyright 1992 by The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, New York, NY

Physical Geography, McKnight, Tom L; Hess, Darrel; Copyright 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
to name a few…

Team Members:

  Erica Swenson
  Brittany Atteberry
  Jason Li
  Natalie Wells
  Petrina Strader

Sponsoring Teacher: Donald Downs

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