As the Summer Olympics in Beijing kicks off today, the event is affording scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe how the atmosphere responds when a heavily populated region substantially curbs everyday industrial emissions.
The National Science Foundation-funded Cheju ABC Plume-Monsoon Experiment (CAPMEX) will include a series of flights by specially equipped unmanned aircraft known as autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (AUAVs) that were developed at Scripps. Instruments on the aircraft can measure smog and its effects on meteorological conditions. Data-gathering flights of the aircraft will originate at the South Korean island of Cheju, located about 1,165 kilometers (725 miles) southeast of Beijing and in the projected path of pollution plumes originating in various cities in China including the capital. That information will be combined with concurrent measurements being made by satellites and observatories on the ground that will track the transport of dust, soot and other pollution aerosols that travel from Beijing and other parts of China in so-called atmospheric brown clouds.
The instruments are observing pollution transport patterns as Beijing enacts its "great shutdown" for the Summer Olympic Games. Chinese officials have compelled reductions in industrial activity by as much as 30 percent and cuts in automobile use by half to safeguard the health of competing athletes immediately before and during the games.
"Thanks to the concern of Olympic organizers and the cooperation of the Korean government, we have a huge and unprecedented opportunity to observe a large reduction in everyday emissions from a region that is very industrially active," said Scripps Oceanography climate and atmospheric sciences professor V. Ramanathan, the principal investigator of CAPMEX.
"CAPMEX is going to be the very first UAV campaign in east Asia for air pollut
|Contact: Rob Monroe or Mario Aguilera|
University of California - San Diego