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Research Spotlight

Roger Bryant is a Postdoctoral Scholar who studies sedimentary geochemistry.

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Student / Alumni Spotlight

Ziwei Wang studies the current state and future projections of convective extreme events.

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Faculty Spotlight

Sunny Park stands in front of a pyramid of Teotihuacan, which has survived many earthquakes over the past two thousand years.

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Geophysical Science News

  • A study, led by UChicago climate scientist Tiffany Shaw, provides an explanation as to why the Southern Hemisphere is stormier than the Northern

    December 05, 2022

    For a long time, we didn’t know very much about the weather in the Southern Hemisphere: most of the ways we observe weather are land-based, and the Southern Hemisphere has much more ocean than the Northern Hemisphere does. 

    But with the advent of satellite-based global observing in the 1980s, we could quantify just how extreme the difference was. The Southern Hemisphere has a stronger jet stream and more intense weather events.

    “You can’t put the Earth in a jar,” Shaw explained, “so instead we use climate models built on the laws of physics and run experiments to test our hypotheses.”

    They used a numerical model of Earth’s climate built on the laws of physics that reproduced the observations. Then they removed different variables one at a time, and quantified each one’s impact on storminess. Shaw and her colleagues found two major culprits: ocean circulation and the large mountain ranges in the Northern Hemisphere. The study also found that this storminess asymmetry has increased since the beginning of the satellite era in the 1980s. The increase was shown to be qualitatively consistent with climate change forecasts from physics-based models.

    Weather the stormy weather right here!

  • UChicago scientists test a technique to determine age that will open new era of planetary science

    October 27, 2022

    A group with the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History tested an instrument made by Thermo Fisher Scientific on a piece of a Martian meteorite nicknamed ‘Black Beauty’ and were able to quickly and precisely date it by probing it with a tiny laser beam—a significant improvement over past techniques, which involved far more work and destroyed parts of the sample.

    “We are very excited by this demonstration study, as we think that we will be able to employ the same approach to date rocks that will be returned by multiple space missions in the future,” said Nicolas Dauphas, the Louis Block Professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago and first author on a study laying out the results. “The next decade is going to be mind-blowing in terms of planetary exploration.”

    UChicago-affiliated scientists on the paper included Nicolas Dauphas, Timo Hopp, Zhe Zhang, Phillip Heck, Bruce L.A. Charlier, and Andrew Davis.

    Check out more right here!

  • Hopp and Dauphas find that rock scooped off speeding asteroid suggests it was once comet that lost its tail

    October 20, 2022

    Postdoctoral researcher Timo Hopp (now at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research) and Louis Block Professor Nicolas Dauphas analyzed iron isotopes from samples returned by the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft from asteroid Ryugu. They found that asteroid Ryugu formed in a reservoir that was different from the source regions of other carbonaceous asteroids. The distinct isotopic composition of Ryugu may reflect its formation at great distances from the Sun, ultimately owing its presence in the inner Solar System to excitation by Uranus and Neptune. "We are probably sampling some of the material that was in the outer disk when the sun was born," said Dauphas. The results have been published in Science Advances , and are summarized in a UChicago News article.

  • Fred Ciesla and Jack Szostak along with other UChicago scientists to explore new territory with the Origins of Life Initiative

    September 29, 2022

    The origin of life on Earth stands as one of the great mysteries of science. Various answers have been proposed, all of which remain unverified. To find out if we are alone in the galaxy, we will need to better understand what geochemical conditions nurtured the first life forms. What water, chemistry and temperature cycles fostered the chemical reactions that allowed life to emerge on our planet? Because life arose in the largely unknown surface conditions of Earth’s early history, answering these and other questions remains a challenge.

    “Right now we are getting truly unprecedented amounts of data coming in: Missions like Hayabusa and OSIRIS-REx are bringing us pieces of asteroids, which helps us understand the conditions that form planets, and NASA’s new JWST telescope is taking astounding data on the solar system and the planets around us,” said Prof. Ciesla. “I think we’re going to make huge progress on this question.”

    Read the full article here

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