News / Science & Technology

Flying Lab Studies Global Climate Change

Flying Lab Studies Global Climate Changei
X
August 14, 2013 3:25 PM
The world is becoming a warmer place. In 2012, carbon levels climbed. Sea levels were at record highs and Arctic sea ice was at an historic low, according to a new report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Researchers studying global climate change have taken to the skies in a flying laboratory that is at the forefront of scientific discovery. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports
Rosanne Skirble
Researchers studying global climate change have taken to the skies in a flying laboratory that is at the forefront of scientific discovery.

The lab is a Gulfstream V corporate jet that has been modified. In place of the luxury seats for business executives are banks of computers and dozens of weather instruments.   
 
"Many of them [instruments] [are] mounted in locations around the fuselage," said Al Cooper, chief scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), who helped develop the flying laboratory.

Some of the atmospheric chemistry measurements inside the airplane allow scientists to gather data as they fly through the air. Others measure remotely through the airplane windows.  
LISTEN: Flying Lab Studies Global Climate Change
Flying Lab Studies Global Climate Changei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The flying lab is called HIAPER, which stands for High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research. HIAPER climbs high, to 16,000 meters, and travels far, more than 11,000 kilometers without refueling. Scientists helped craft the design and then lobbied to get it funded.  
 
“The community was really asking for these kind of capabilities for several reasons: one was the altitude capabilities they wanted to reach the upper parts of the atmosphere," Cooper said. "The other was long-range capabilities, to be able to conduct studies that are global in scope, so that we can monitor questions like what is the carbon dioxide distribution around the world.”  

The $81.5 million project was funded by the National Science Foundation. It is managed and operated by NCAR in Boulder, Colorado.  
HAIPER, the Gulfstream V in flight, is loaded with instruments. (NCAR)HAIPER, the Gulfstream V in flight, is loaded with instruments. (NCAR)
HAIPER collects data by flying over clouds and storms to the edges of the stratosphere, beyond the reach of most research aircraft. It can travel to remote regions over oceans and track atmospheric chemicals as they move around the globe. The instruments take measurements as events unfold.

“The main thing this gives us is the ability to measure in place," Cooper said. "There are some remote sensors that the plane carries as well to be able to extend those measurements above and below the plane as it flies along. So the instruments that it carries measure along the flight track and they measure with high resolution, much higher than you can get in any other way.”

Among the instruments taking measurements in real time are dropsondes packed in epoxy-hardened cotton tubes and jettisoned from the aircraft.  NCAR engineer Nick Potts says they record pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed.
During Tropical Storm Gaston, researchers used HIAPER to analyze tropical disturbances that showed the potential to develop further. (UCAR Carlye Calvin)During Tropical Storm Gaston, researchers used HIAPER to analyze tropical disturbances that showed the potential to develop further. (UCAR Carlye Calvin)
“As the sondes falls, it is measuring these parameters," he said. "It is telemetering them or radioing them out much like your cell phone talks to a base station, where instead of just talking to the base station, we are talking to the plane.”

From a seat behind a computer, Potts sends a message to an automated dropsondes launcher, which looks a lot like a vending machine in the rear of the craft. The tubes are stacked in slots waiting for his command.

“The aircraft, we can actually fly to where we are interested in going," Potts said. "So often times these things are used in hurricanes. So we fly to the hurricane, fly around the hurricane and then pick spaces where we want to launch them. What their real observational purpose is for is to help with prediction models for hurricanes and where they land.”  

Potts says better predictions can ultimately save lives. Among HAIPER’s recent projects was a mission to study plumes of dust and pollutants blown from Asia, and flights to analyze severe weather across Colorado’s Front Range and the adjacent Great Plains.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Manda Ginjiro from: Minami, Naniwa, JPN
August 14, 2013 8:13 PM
You should use these technologies and data to improve other countries storm model, not only for the American hurricanes.

These data should be free to access in order to save lives around the world.

In Response

by: N from: Boulder
August 17, 2013 12:32 AM
Actually.... They DO use similar aircraft to measure similar parameters for weather prediction world wide. Of note, the US is involved with typhoons that mainly hit Japan and the Koreas...

Additionally, nearly all the data from these flight IS freely accessible. Look for NCAR, NOAA, and Hurricane Hunters data stores.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid