Scientists Take to the Skies over Azores to Gather Cloud Data

The Gulfstream-159 research aircraft readies for takeoff. Credit: DOE ARM Climate Research Facility

Clouds in the eastern North Atlantic region will come under scrutiny from a bevy of airplane-based instruments this summer, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility.

Scientists will call upon 55 separate instruments to analyze the physical and chemical properties of clouds and aerosols, tiny airborne particles that play a huge role in the atmosphere. The instruments will be flown aboard the Gulfstream-159, or G-1, research aircraft, the centerpiece of the ARM Aerial Facility managed by DOE‘s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Scientists will conduct 20 missions this summer and 20 in the winter, operating out of a joint Portugal– U.S. airbase in the Azores.

Aboard a DOE aircraft for the first time will be a Holographic Detector for Clouds (HOLODEC), a wing-mounted device that will help scientists learn how the size distribution of cloud droplets is affected by the mixing of cloudy, wet air and drier, clear air.

The experiments will help scientists understand the interactions between low clouds and aerosols. The project is led by scientist Jian Wang of Brookhaven National Laboratory, one of nine DOE laboratories that operate the ARM facility.

More information on the current experiments is available in this article from ARM.

Source : Pacific Northwest National Laboratory