Special Issue "The Impacts of Climate on Astronomical Observations"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 February 2024 | Viewed by 1757
Climate change is affecting and will increasingly affect astronomical observations. For ground-based astronomical facilities with a typical lifetime of at least 30 years, it is essential to be aware of future climate evolution to optimize observation strategies and instrumental upgrades. New facilities have been introduced and others are in the planning phase. Further investigation is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of change and to assess the severity of the impact.
What are the underlying mechanisms of change? Which part of the atmosphere is directly concerned? Most observatories provide in situ measurements of local weather, and several operate dedicated instruments directly monitoring atmospheric turbulence parameters, which can be used to validate the output of the highest resolution global climate models available. The horizontal resolution of the meteorological models is constantly improving, allowing realistic forecasts of the local flow even in such irregular high-altitude terrain where most large facilities are located. Moreover, the vertical mesh of the models in the free atmosphere is now fine enough to attempt modeling the fine structures of the thermal turbulence and, consequently, its dependency on climate evolution.
How severe is climate change for the scientific throughput of a ground-based observatory? Which observing mode is directly impacted by the long-term change in a given meteorological parameter? Modern ground-based astronomy produces a wealth of scientific data progressively made publicly available, which can be used for instrument performance analysis and cross-compared to meteorological trends.
Dr. Marc S. Sarazin
Manuscript Submission Information
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- site testing
- atmospheric effects
- climate change
- data mining
The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.
Author: Andrei Tokovinin
Affiliation: Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory — NSF’s NOIRLab, Casilla 603, La Serena, Chile
Abstract: Atmospheric image blur, “seeing”, is one of key parameters that influence selection of observatory sites and performance of ground-based telescopes. In this review, the common definition of seeing based on the Kolmogorov turbulence model is recalled. Ability of this model to represent real, non-stationary fluctuations of the air refractive index is discussed. Even in principle, seeing (a model parameter) cannot be measured with arbitrary accuracy; consequently, describing atmospheric blur by a single number, seeing, is a crude approximation. Operating principles of current seeing monitors are outlined. They measure optical effects caused by turbulence, sampling certain regions of spatial and temporal spectrum of atmosphreic optical disturbances, and interpret their statistics in the framework of the standard model. Biases of seeing monitors (measurement noise, propagation, finite exposure, optical defects, wind shake, etc.) should be quantified and corrected using simulations, while instrument comparison campaigns serve as a check. The elusive nature of seeing follows from its uniqueness (a given measurement cannot be repeated or checked later), its non-stationarity (dependence on time, location, and viewing direction), a substantial role of the highly variable surface layer, and potential biases caused by the instrument itself.