International science team measures Arctic's atmosphere

January 28, 2005

An international team of scientists embarked this week on a journey to improve modeling of global-scale air quality and climate change predictions by conducting high quality measurements of the Arctic region's atmosphere.

The Polar Aura Validation Experiment (PAVE) will gather information to validate data from NASA's Aura satellite, launched in July 2004. PAVE is the third in a series of planned Aura validation and science missions.

These missions will help understand the transport and transformation of gases and aerosols in the lower atmosphere (troposphere), and their exchange with those in the lower stratosphere, the layer just above the troposphere. PAVE takes place from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9.

"In addition to providing important validation for the various Aura data products, PAVE brings together a full NASA complement of space-based and suborbital measurements to study the atmospheric chemistry and transport of gases and aerosols in this sensitive region of our planet," said Dr. Michael Kurylo, Program Scientist for PAVE, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The information from this campaign will aid in understanding how changing atmospheric composition, associated with climate change, might affect the recovery of the Earth's ozone layer that is anticipated to occur over the next several decades," he said.

In particular, PAVE focuses on the Arctic region of the Northern Hemisphere, where winter chemistry has led to significant seasonal reduction of the stratospheric ozone layer in many years, over more than a decade.

The ozone layer restricts the amount of the sun's ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth.

Depletion of this protective layer can have harmful effects on humans and other ecosystems.

NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory and high-altitude balloons are collecting valuable science data, especially on ozone and ozone-destroying chemicals, using a suite of atmospheric remote sensing and "in situ" instruments. The aircraft, operated by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., is flying the PAVE mission from Pease International Tradeport, Portsmouth, N.H. Balloons are being launched from the European Sounding Rocket Range (ESRANGE) facility in Sweden.

The study is focusing on obtaining in situ and remote sensing measurements of the arctic region for validation of the Aura satellite. Information gathered during PAVE will be combined with data from Aura to improve modeling of global-scale air quality, ozone and climate change predictions.

Instruments on board the DC-8 are characterizing upper tropospheric and stratospheric gases inside and outside the Arctic polar region to study ozone depletion chemistry. Such flights also permit measurement of the outflow of gases from the North American continent, thereby contributing to an understanding of how regional pollutants are distributed in the hemisphere.

Scientists will make remote sensing measurements (extending many kilometers away from the aircraft) of tropospheric and stratospheric ozone, aerosols, temperature, nitric acid, HCl, ClO and other ozone-related chemicals. These are complemented by measurements of components such as ozone, methane, water vapor, carbon monoxide, nitric acid and nitrous oxide, in the atmosphere immediately surrounding the aircraft.

Major PAVE partners include the University of New Hampshire, Durham; University of California-Berkeley; University of Bremen, Germany; National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colo.; the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington; Koninklijk Netherlands Meteorological Institute; and Los Gatos Research, Inc., Mountain View, Calif.
-end-


NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.