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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs