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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid