Fall 2014 Physics Colloquium

More information coming soon!

Thursday, September 25th
Dr. Hans Verlinde, Department of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University

"I've Looked at Clouds From All Sides Now"

Contrary to intuition, clouds in the cold Arctic atmosphere frequently contain liquid water, even at temperatures as low as -30 °C! The presence of liquid water in these clouds is important because it changes how much the cloud warms the surface, and thus plays a role in the winter-time formation and summer melting of ice. In order to understand the role of these clouds in the rapidly changing Arctic, we understand their physical processes, and to do so need quantitative observations of their properties. But getting these observations is difficult: if you fly a plane into one of these clouds the plane can easily transform into a ball of ice. Therefore, we have to resort to remote sensing of the cloud properties, using a variety of sensors.

He will talk about the physics of mixed-phase clouds (liquid cloud that precipitates ice) and the challenges of observing their characteristics.

Noon
Tome 115
Pizza provided

Wednesday, October 15th
Kenneth J. Davis, Professor of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University
"The Breathing of the Earth and Fires of Industry: Measuring Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks at Regional Scales"

Human activity is increasing the greenhouse gas burden of the earth's atmosphere, resulting in an increasingly strong greenhouse effect. This strengthening greenhouse effect is changing the earth's climate and is highly likely to lead to increasingly severe climate changes if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.  In response to this challenge, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, both voluntary and regulatory, are emerging.  Measurements of emissions are needed to ensure that reduction targets are being met. Further, the earth's biosphere is an active source and sink of greenhouse gases, adding complexity to the problem of designing optimal climate management strategies.

He will review the role of greenhouse gases in the earth's climate system, the natural cycles of greenhouse gas sources and sinks, and the impact of human activity on the concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. He will next review the current state of our ability to measure greenhouse gas sources and sinks using atmospheric methods. Methods include tower-based turbulent flux measurements, extrapolation of ecosystem fluxes across space using space-based remote sensing, and atmospheric budgets that utilize weather forecast systems combined with tower-, aircraft- and satellite-based greenhouse gas concentration measurements. Finally, he will present current applications of these methods to determine the net carbon dioxide fluxes of agricultural and forest landscapes, carbon dioxide and methane emissions from cities, and methane emissions from the shale gas fields of northern Pennsylvania.

12:30 p.m.
Stafford Lecture Room
Pizza provided


Thursday, October 23rd

Olivia Wilkins, Dickinson College
"Organic Chemistry in Young-Stellar Objects"

Astrochemistry is an emerging field that applies the lens of chemistry to the formation of stars, planets, atmospheres, and molecules.  Among other projects, the Ӧberg Astrochemistry Group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) investigates the formation of complex organic molecules and unsaturated carbon chains in protostellar environments. Understanding the chemical processes associated with such molecular species has the potential to provide insight into an even more complex prebiotic chemistry. In addition to discussing the work done with Karin Ӧberg at the CfA, this talk will provide an overview of radio astronomy and the journey by which I, a chemistry student, became involved in astronomy research. 

Noon
Tome 115
Pizza provided

Tuesday, November 18th
Sigma Pi Sigma Talk - Sean Finnegan '01
4:30 p.m.
Tome 115

Sigma Pi Sigma Dinner
6:00 p.m.
HUB Siderooms

Monday, December 8th
Senior Seminar Talks


4:30 p.m.
Tome 115
Pizza Provided

Tuesday, December 9th
Senior Seminar Talks


Noon
Tome 117
Pizza Provided

Thursday, December 11th
Senior Seminar Talks


Noon
Tome 115
Pizza Provided