Atmospheric scientists start monthlong air sampling campaign

Jun 02, 2010

More than 60 scientists from a dozen institutions have converged on this urban area to study how tiny particles called aerosols affect the climate. Sending airplanes and weather balloons outfitted with instruments up in the air, the team will be sampling aerosols in the Sacramento Valley from June 2-28.

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington will be leading the monthlong study, coordinating and ground operations at three sites in the Central Valley. Participating scientists hail from several DOE national laboratories, NASA and the University of California, Davis, along with many other academic and research institutions. The data they are collecting will help researchers improve computer models that simulate the climate and project climate changes.

One of the areas of climate science that researchers know the least about is , the tiny particles of dust, soot, salts, water and other chemicals suspended in the air. A hazy day? That is mainly caused by aerosol particles scattering and absorbing sunlight.

To better understand aerosols' role in climate, the DOE's climate research program studies how in the air scatter and absorb the sun's radiation, and how much of it hits Earth.

This Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility study, called the Carbonaceous Aerosols and Radiative Effects Study (CARES), is looking at aerosols that have a bit of black carbon and organic chemicals in them. These can come from vehicle exhaust, fires -- even plants give off carbon-containing compounds that find their way into aerosols.

The team of researchers will take daily measurements of trace gases and aerosols the city emits -- known as the Sacramento urban plume -- under relatively well-defined and regular weather conditions. The knowledge gained will eventually be used in regional and global computer models that simulate the effects of aerosols on .

About half of the researchers will take measurements on the ground at two sites - one at American River College in Sacramento and the other at Northside School in Cool, Calif. The rest of the team will take similar measurements from the air using a full payload of instruments -- some recently purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds -- flown on a Gulfstream-1 aircraft at about 1,000 feet. NASA will fly a King Air B-200 above the G-1 at 28,000 feet.

In addition, the team will be sending weather balloons up for additional sampling from the ground sites. The simultaneous measurements from ground, plane and balloon will provide a comprehensive view of the atmospheric aerosols.

Explore further: Sea-level surge at Antarctica linked to icesheet loss

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Science paper examines role of aerosols in climate change

Sep 05, 2008

A group of scientists affiliated with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) have proposed a new framework to account more accurately for the effects of aerosols on precipitation in climate models. Their work ...

The insides of clouds may be the key to climate change

Feb 17, 2007

As climate change scientists develop ever more sophisticated climate models to project an expected path of temperature change, it is becoming increasingly important to include the effects of aerosols on clouds, according ...

Pollution dims skies as well as befouling the air

Mar 12, 2009

A University of Maryland-led team has compiled the first decades-long database of aerosol measurements over land, making possible new research into how air pollution changes affect climate change.

CSU scientist simplifies aerosols for modeling

May 26, 2010

The large number of tiny organic aerosols floating in the atmosphere - emitted from tailpipes and trees alike - share enough common characteristics as a group that scientists can generalize their makeup and ...

Recommended for you

NASA radar system surveys Napa Valley quake area

12 hours ago

NASA scientists are conducting an airborne survey of earthquake fault displacements in the Napa Valley area of Northern California using a sophisticated radar system developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ...

Aging Africa

Aug 29, 2014

In the September issue of GSA Today, Paul Bierman of the University of Vermont–Burlington and colleagues present a cosmogenic view of erosion, relief generation, and the age of faulting in southernmost Africa ...

NASA animation shows Hurricane Marie winding down

Aug 29, 2014

NOAA's GOES-West satellite keeps a continuous eye on the Eastern Pacific and has been covering Hurricane Marie since birth. NASA's GOES Project uses NOAA data and creates animations and did so to show the end of Hurricane ...

User comments : 0