The Environmental Chemical Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation has recommended funding for a research proposal submitted by Prof. Steven Neshyba. The award of $197,000 will support research at the University of Puget Sound for three years, starting in 2013, into the nature of ice roughness. An abstract of the proposal follows:
RUI: Scanning electron microscopy and multiscale modeling of mesoscopically rough faceted ice
It is known that when ice crystals in atmospheric clouds (such as cirrus clouds) develop rough surfaces, the clouds tend to reflect more light. Critical details about this roughening remain elusive, however. This RUI award from the Environmental Chemical Sciences program of the Division of Chemistry will support laboratory and theoretical research into the surface morphology of rough crystalline ice. Under the guidance of awardee Steven Neshyba, researchers at the University of Puget Sound will grow ice crystals inside a variable pressure scanning electron microscope, allowing for characterization of surface morphology at a resolution not possible using light microscopy. These investigations will assess the response of roughening to variations in temperature, vapor supersaturation, and impurities at the ice-vapor interface, and will provide the basis for modeling the shortwave scattering properties of such crystals. In terms of theory, an integrated molecular dynamics and reaction-diffusion approach to simulating the dynamics of viscinal ice-vapor interfaces will be developed. These simulation results will be used to test hypotheses about the mechanism of formation, morphological properties, and light-scattering consequences, of rough ice.
Undergraduates at the University of Puget Sound, as well as science teachers from Sammamish High School, will be engaged in the research as co-investigators and co-authors of scientific publications, and through collaboration with researchers at the Institute for Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.