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The impact of climate change on astronomical observations

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020

Faustine Cantalloube, Julien Milli, Christoph Böhm, Susanne Crewell, Julio Navarrete, Kira Rehfeld, Marc Sarazin, Anna Sommani

Climate change is affecting and will increasingly affect astronomical observations. In this paper, we investigated the role some key weather parameters play in the quality of astronomical observations, and analysed their long-term trends (longer than 30 years) in order to grasp the impact of climate change on current and future observations. In this preliminary study, we specifically analysed four parameters, the temperature, the surface layer turbulence, the wind speed at the jetstream layer and the humidity. The analyses is conducted with data from the Very Large Telescope (VLT), operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), located at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama desert, Chile, which is one of the driest places on Earth. To complete the data from the various sensors installed at Paranal, we used the fifth generation and 20th century European Centre Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) atmospheric reanalysis of the global climate, ERA5 (from 1980 to now) and ERA20C (from 1900 to 2010), which we interpolated at the Paranal observatory location. In addition, we also explored climate projections in this region, using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) multi-model ensemble, under the worst-case climate change Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (SSP5-8.5) scenario. Further investigation is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of change, as well as to assess the severity of the impact.

Comments: Originated at EAS 2020 conference, sustainability session by https://astronomersforplanet.earth - published in Nature Astronomy, September 2020. Free access this https URL (courtesy of Nature Astronomy)

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph); Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph)

DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1203-3

Cite as: arXiv:2009.11779 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2009.11779v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Faustine Cantalloube 

[v1] Thu, 24 Sep 2020 16:07:46 UTC (954 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.11779


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