HUCE faculty associate Steve Wofsy and colleagues rely on a sophisticated jet to take pole-to-pole measurements in the $4-million HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) project.
In the spring this year, during its third of five planned missions, a specially outfitted Gulfstream V jet, owned by the US National Science Foundation and operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, journeyed northwards, nearly reaching the Pole before turning south towards the Antarctic. The plane made occasional refuelling stops along the way, and then largely retraced its eastern Pacific route before returning to its home base (see map). As it flew, the plane (formerly known as HIAPER — the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research) repeatedly climbed as high as 13.7 kilometres and dipped down to a nail-biting 150 metres above the ocean waves, all the while sampling more than 100 atmospheric constituents, including greenhouse gases, aerosols and a suite of natural and industrial chemicals.
Now, early results from that flight and two previous ones with the same aircraft, presented on August 9, 2010, at a joint assembly of the American Geophysical Union and several Latin American societies in Iguaçu Falls, Brazil, are yielding surprises in the distribution of trace gases and airborne pollution.
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