Tech

June 7, 2013

NASA flights target how pollution, storms, climate mix

NASA’s DC-8 airborne science laboratory.

NASA aircraft will take to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate.

NASA will conduct its most complex airborne science campaign of the year from Houston’s EllingtonField, which is operated by the agency’s Johnson Space Center, beginning Aug. 7 and continuing through September. The field campaign draws together coordinated observations from NASA satellites, aircraft and an array of ground sites.

More than 250 scientists, engineers, and flight personnel are participating in the Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by RegionalSurveys (SEAC4RS) campaign. The project is sponsored by the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Brian Toon of the Department of Atmospheric andOceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is SEAC4RS lead scientist.

Aircraft and sensors will probe the atmosphere from top to bottom at the critical time of year when weather systems are strong enough and regional air pollution and natural emissions are prolific enough to pump gases and particles high into the atmosphere. The result is potentially global consequences for Earth’s atmosphere and climate.

“In summertime across the United States, emissions from large seasonal fires, metropolitanareas, and vegetation are moved upward by thunderstorms and the North American Monsoon,” Toon said. “When these chemicals get into the stratosphere they can affect the whole Earth. They also may influence how thunderstorms behave. With SEAC4RS we hope to better understand how all these things interact.”

SEAC4RS will provide new insights into the effects of the gases and tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. The mission is targeting two major regional sources of summertime emissions: intense smoke from forest fires in the U.S. West and natural emissions of isoprene, a carbon compound, from forests in the Southeast.

NASA’s ER-2 lands at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops, Va.

Forest fire smoke can change the properties of clouds. The particles in the smoke can reflect andabsorb incoming solar energy, potentially producing a net cooling at the ground and a warming of the atmosphere. The addition of large amounts of chemicals, such as isoprene, can alter the chemical balance of the atmosphere. Some ofthese chemicals can damage Earth’s protective ozone layer.

The mission will use a number of scientific instruments in orbit, in the air, and on the ground topaint a detailed picture of these intertwined atmospheric processes. As a fleet of formation-flying satellites known as NASA’s A-Train passes over the region every day, sensors will detect different features of the scene below. NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft will fly into the stratosphere to the edge of space while NASA’s DC-8 aircraft will sample the atmosphere below it. A third aircraft from SPEC Inc., of Boulder, Colo., will measure cloud properties.

One benefit of this thorough examination of the region’s atmosphere will be more accurate satellite data.

“By using aircraft to collect data from inside the atmosphere, we can compare those measurements with what our satellites see and improve the quality of the data from space,” said Hal Maring of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters.

The SEAC4RS campaign is partly supported by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. NASA scientists involved in the mission come from NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt., Md.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

NASA’s Earth Science Project Office at Ames manages the SEAC4RS project. The DC-8 andER-2 research aircraft are managed by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and based at Dryden’s Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 
 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>