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First global portrait of greenhouse gases emerges from pole-to-pole flights
Date:9/7/2011

BOULDER--A three-year series of research flights from the Arctic to the Antarctic has successfully produced an unprecedented portrait of greenhouse gases and particles in the atmosphere, scientists announced today. The far-reaching field project, known as HIPPO, is enabling researchers to generate the first detailed mapping of the global distribution of gases and particles that affect Earth's climate.

The series of flights, which come to an end next week, mark an important milestone as scientists work toward targeting both the sources of greenhouse gases and the natural processes that draw the gases back out of the atmosphere.

"Tracking carbon dioxide and other gases with only surface measurements has been like snorkeling with a really foggy mask," says Britton Stephens, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and one of the project's principal investigators. "Finally, HIPPO is giving us a clear view of what's really out there."

"With HIPPO, we now have views of whole slices of the atmosphere," says Steven Wofsy, HIPPO principal investigator and atmospheric and environmental professor at Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "We've been quite surprised by the abundance of certain atmospheric components and the locations where they are most common."

The three-year campaign has relied on the powerful capabilities of a specially equipped Gulfstream V aircraft, owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by NCAR. The research jet, known as the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), has a range of about 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers). It is outfitted with a suite of specially designed instruments to sample a broad range of atmospheric constituents.

The flights have helped scientists compile extraordinary detail about the atmosphere. The research team has studied air samples at different latitudes du
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Contact: David Hosansky
hosansky@ucar.edu
303-497-8611
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Source:Eurekalert  

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