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  • Research Interests of Professor James Frost

    Stratospheric Aerosols on Jupiter

    This research involves the study of The Great Dark Spot in Jupiter’s Stratosphere. Jupiter’s Great Dark Spot has only been noticed twice, once in 1997 in Hubble Space Telescope Observations and in 2000 by the spacecraft Cassini on route to Saturn during its Jupiter’s flyby. This research involves the creation of spectral plots to determine the composition of Jupiter’s aerosols. Working with the Hubble data, we have obtained increased structural resolution of the spot by performing certain ratio plots of images at different wavelengths and using that structural location information, we are mapping out intensity spectral plots. We are looking for differences which may give indications of the composition of the aerosols at that location. We are applying this technique not only to Jupiter’s Dark Spot, but also applying it to look to see if the aerosols in the North Pole are the same or different from those in the South Pole, and to see if the aural regions in the poles have spectral plots different from non aural Polar Regions. This work is being done in collaboration with scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The research questions are: Are the Great Spot’s composition the same or different from the Polar aerosols? Are the aerosols in the north the same composition as the aerosols in the south? Are the aerosols created by Jupiter’s auroras? This work has been presented at conferences at the American Geophysical Union and at the American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences.

    Earth’s climate is changing and man’s activity is the cause. As solar energy comes into the earth’s system some is absorbed, reflected, and the earth radiates back thermal energy (Earth’s radiation budget). If more energy comes in than goes out then the climate is unstable and the earth heats up. How this complicated interaction plays out is partially determined by the actions of aerosols. Aerosols are minute suspensions of solid and liquid particles in the atmosphere, some so small that the eye cannot see. Aerosols are the biggest unknown in the climate change game. Aerosols are studied using sunphotometers, Lidar, and polarimeters. Sunphotometers can measure optical depth (concentration) and size of aerosols, but this concentration is the total concentration from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of the earth and the size is some average size of all the aerosols from the top to the surface of the earth. Polarimeters measure the polarization properties (changes in the electric field’s plane of vibration) of the scattered sunlight and these are sensitive to the refractive index of the aerosols which give clues to their composition. Lidar is sensitive to the vertical height distribution of the aerosols, but is not sensitive to their microphysical properties (size, variance of the size, refractive index, composition, number of molecules/vol). Lidar can tell you where they are, but cannot tell you what they are.

    Working with scientists at GISS we are working on a FORTRAN vector radiative transfer code that will combine sunphotometry, Polarimetry, and Lidar measurements that will give a vertical height distribution profile of aerosols in terms of its microphysical parameters (Where they are and what they are). The code divides the atmosphere into as many as 200 layers and can look at as many as 120 different aerosol types. The code is being run at on supercomputers at CUNY’S High Performance Computer Center at the College of Staten Island. This work has been presented at conferences at the SPIE International Society for Optics and Photonics and at the American Geophysical Union. 

    Climate Change and Aerosols Studies Using Sunphotometry, Polarimetry, and Lidar

    Research Interest James Frost 1   Research Interest James Frost 2  Research Interest James Frost 3

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