Campus Research: Geophysics Senior Design

For Mines seniors, their final year at Mines can be a stressful time. Not only are students trying to figure out what to do upon graduation, but they are also usually in the middle of senior design projects. In the geophysics department, students choose their own projects to research for one or two semesters and, while geophysics is usually concerned with what is beneath the earth, the students are allowed to explore different fields and research what interests them. The Oredigger sat down with geophysics student Katerina Gonzales to ask her about her research.

Ms. Gonzales is continuing upon research she started in the summer of 2013 at Colorado State University and will be performing her research over two semesters. Her project is the study of surface, ozone, and climate change and she is designing a model that will analyze the effect the jet stream has on ozone and climate change. Her research will specifically focus on the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean.

Earth has two different ozones: the one over the Pacific Ocean, and the one over the Atlantic Ocean. The jet stream over the Pacific is easy to analyze as it blows from west to east and is more conducive to her pollution study. She chose to analyze the Pacific jet stream and ozone because of all the pollution coming off of Asia, mainly China. This pollution from China includes things like Nox and Vox along with carbon dioxide and the particle are getting into the jet stream and in turn getting into the layers of our ozone. In order to determine what/if any affect the jet stream has on climate change, Gonzalesa is looking at where the jet stream meets with the West Coast of the United States as the jet stream blows pollution as far as California. The amount of pollution the jet stream transports is not affected by latitudes as mentioned earlier, but as it hits North America, the jet stream gets strengthen in the mid latitudes and picks up speed which causes the variations in pollution delivered at a certain location.

Gonzales hopes to find some conclusive evidence from her study. She believes the model will show that the latitude of the jet stream does not matter, but the speed of the jet stream does. The speed affects the intensity and standard deviation of pollution within the jet stream. If speeds are higher, it creates a cyclone-like effect that provides polluted air one second, then clean air, then polluted air again because the jet stream sweeps the pollution in different waves at different speeds. The variation in speeds changes the standard deviation of pollution delivered by the jet stream. By the end of this semester, she hopes to quantify what derives ozone. For next semester, she will look at how the jet stream specifically transports pollution and hopes to find the relationship between the jet stream and pollution and how /if it affects climate change.

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