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Creators/Authors contains: "Boslough, Mark Bruce Elrick"
  1. Abstract not provided.
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  4. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) made extensive use of coordinated simulations by 18 international modeling groups using a variety of coupled general circulation models (GCMs) with different numerics, algorithms, resolutions, physics models, and parameterizations. These simulations span the 20th century and provide forecasts for various carbon emissions scenarios in the 21st century. All the output from this panoply of models is made available to researchers on an archive maintained by the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) at LLNL. I have downloaded this data and completed the first steps toward a statisticalmore » analysis of these ensembles for the US Southwest. This constitutes the final report for a late start LDRD project. Complete analysis will be the subject of a forthcoming report.« less
  5. Ongoing simulations of low-altitude airbursts from hypervelocity asteroid impacts have led to a re-evaluation of the impact hazard that accounts for the enhanced damage potential relative to the standard point-source approximations. Computational models demonstrate that the altitude of maximum energy deposition is not a good estimate of the equivalent height of a point explosion, because the center of mass of an exploding projectile maintains a significant fraction of its initial momentum and is transported downward in the form of a high-temperature jet of expanding gas. This 'fireball' descends to a depth well beneath the burst altitude before its velocity becomesmore » subsonic. The time scale of this descent is similar to the time scale of the explosion itself, so the jet simultaneously couples both its translational and its radial kinetic energy to the atmosphere. Because of this downward flow, larger blast waves and stronger thermal radiation pulses are experienced at the surface than would be predicted for a nuclear explosion of the same yield at the same burst height. For impacts with a kinetic energy below some threshold value, the hot jet of vaporized projectile loses its momentum before it can make contact with the Earth's surface. The 1908 Tunguska explosion is the largest observed example of this first type of airburst. For impacts above the threshold, the fireball descends all the way to the ground, where it expands radially, driving supersonic winds and radiating thermal energy at temperatures that can melt silicate surface materials. The Libyan Desert Glass event, 29 million years ago, may be an example of this second, larger, and more destructive type of airburst. The kinetic energy threshold that demarcates these two airburst types depends on asteroid velocity, density, strength, and impact angle. Airburst models, combined with a reexamination of the surface conditions at Tunguska in 1908, have revealed that several assumptions from the earlier analyses led to erroneous conclusions, resulting in an overestimate of the size of the Tunguska event. Because there is no evidence that the Tunguska fireball descended to the surface, the yield must have been about 5 megatons or lower. Better understanding of airbursts, combined with the diminishing number of undiscovered large asteroids, leads to the conclusion that airbursts represent a large and growing fraction of the total impact threat.« less
  6. The YDB impact hypothesis of Firestone et al. (2007) is so extremely improbable it can be considered statistically impossible in addition to being physically impossible. Comets make up only about 1% of the population of Earth-crossing objects. Broken comets are a vanishingly small fraction, and only exist as Earth-sized clusters for a very short period of time. Only a small fraction of impacts occur at angles as shallow as proposed by the YDB impact authors. Events that are exceptionally unlikely to take place in the age of the Universe are 'statistically impossible'. The size distribution of Earth-crossing asteroids is well-constrainedmore » by astronomical observations, DoD satellite bolide frequencies, and the cratering record. This distribution can be transformed to a probability density function (PDF) for the largest expected impact of the past 20,000 years. The largest impact of any kind expected over the period of interest is 250 m. Anything larger than 2 km is exceptionally unlikely (probability less than 1%). The impact hypothesis does not rely on any sound physical model. A 4-km diameter comet, even if it fragmented upon entry, would not disperse or explode in the atmosphere. It would generate a crater about 50 km in diameter with a transient cavity as deep as 10 km. There is no evidence for such a large, young crater associated with the YDB. There is no model to suggest that a comet impact of this size is capable of generating continental-wide fires or blast damage, and there is no physical mechanism that could cause a 4-km comet to explode at the optimum height of 500 km. The highest possible altitude for a cometary optimum height is about 15 km, for a 120-m diameter comet. To maximize blast and thermal damage, a 4-km comet would have to break into tens of thousands fragments of this size and spread out over the entire continent, but that would require lateral forces that greatly exceed the drag force, and would not conserve energy. Airbursts are decompression explosions in which projectile material reaches high temperature but not high pressure states. Meteoritic diamonds would be vaporized. Nanodiamonds at the YDB are not evidence for an airburst or for an impact.« less
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