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Permafrost creates a polygonal landscape, irregularity that makes simulating thawing’s impact on climate change a challenge requiring advanced algorithms and high-performance computers. (Photo: Konstanze Piel, Alfred Wegener Institute.)

After the thaw

February 19th, 2014 Updated: February 19th, 2014

Simulations of melting permafrost promise changes in climate modeling.

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This visualization from a kinetic magnetic reconnection model shows magnetic flux ropes (blue) along a selection of magnetic field lines (yellow). A movie of such a simulation helps scientists explore the three-dimensional structure of the process, including the flux ropes interacting. (These findings come from work published this year by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Yi-Hsin et al. in Physical Review Letters, 110.265004.)

Predicting solar assaults

September 30th, 2013 Updated: September 30th, 2013

When Earth’s magnetosphere snaps and crackles, power and communications technologies can break badly. Three-dimensional simulations of magnetic reconnection aim to forecast the space storms that disrupt and damage.

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Time evolution of the primary convective activity (white) and lightning (red dots) for Hurricane Rita. (Image: Jon Reisner, Los Alamos National Laboratory.)

Enlightening predictions

June 6th, 2012 Updated: June 7th, 2012

Computer simulations of hurricane lightning could be the key to predicting and avoiding the storms’ real-world punch.

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A frame from an animation showing the possible route into the Atlantic Ocean of oil and dispersant from the spot of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A long view of Gulf oil spill

April 19th, 2011 Updated: November 30th, 2011

While others predicted when oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico might reach beaches, ocean modelers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research asked when gushing oil might exit the Gulf, where it would go and how diluted it’d be, up to a year later.

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Extending the stockpile’s lifespan

December 21st, 2009 Updated: November 29th, 2011

Just how does prolonged exposure to nuclear radiation change a material’s properties? How do those changes alter the way a weapon performs? A Los Alamos team quantifies these and other uncertainties.

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