Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Space-Borne Instrument To Track Greenhouse Gases, Ozone Destroyers, And Other Pollutants

Date:
July 8, 2004
Source:
National Center For Atmospheric Research
Summary:
A powerful new instrument heading to space this Saturday is expected to send back long-sought answers about greenhouse gases, atmospheric cleansers and pollutants, and the destruction and recovery of the ozone layer.

BOULDER -- A powerful new instrument heading to space this Saturday is expected to send back long-sought answers about greenhouse gases, atmospheric cleansers and pollutants, and the destruction and recovery of the ozone layer. Only a cubic yard in size but laden with technical wizardry, the High-Resolution Dynamic Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) will measure a slew of atmospheric chemicals at a horizontal and vertical precision unprecedented in a multi-year space instrument.

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), University of Colorado, and University of Oxford developed HIRDLS (pronounced "hurdles") with funding from NASA and United Kingdom sources. The U.S. space agency plans to launch the 21-channel radiometer along with three other instruments July 10 aboard its Aura satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

HIRDLS will capture the chemistry and dynamics of four layers of the atmosphere that together span a region 8 to 80 kilometers (5 to 50 miles) above Earth’s surface: the upper troposphere, the tropopause, the stratosphere, and the mesosphere.

Using infrared radiation as its yardstick, the radiometer will look through Earth’s atmosphere toward the planet’s limb, or edge. It will find and measure ten different chemical species, characterize airborne particles known as aerosols, and track thin cirrus clouds, all at a vertical resolution of half a kilometer (a third of a mile) and a horizontal resolution of 50 kilometers (30 miles). The signal-to noise ratio is one tenth that of previous detectors.

"The angular resolution of the instrument’s mirror position is equivalent to seeing a dime eight miles away," says principal investigator John Gille, of NCAR and the University of Colorado.

A few questions HIRDLS data will answer

What are the concentrations of the primary greenhouse gases and their height in the atmosphere?—The answer should reveal where Earth will warm or cool as the global climate changes.

Why does the tropopause exist and what is its role in conveying gases from the troposphere into the stratosphere, especially in the tropics?—Convection was once thought to be the vehicle, but scientists now know warm, rising air normally stops at the frigid, dry tropopause.

Why is the stratosphere, historically dry, now getting wetter?—The answer could shed light on how a changing climate is modifying the atmosphere and how those modifications could in turn feed back into our climate and weather near the ground.

How much ozone is sinking from the stratosphere into the upper troposphere?—The answer will help scientists separate natural ozone pollution from human-made sources and give new information on how the gas is affecting chemistry closer to the ground.

Scientists also expect to see clearly for the first time the dynamic processes that cause water vapor filaments and tendrils to break off and mix with other gases in the troposphere.

Good and bad ozone at different altitudes

At 50 kilometers (30 miles) above the ground, ozone is good: it blocks dangerous ultraviolet radiation and prevents it from harming life and materials at ground level. At 10 kilometers (6 miles), ozone is a greenhouse gas, which is good because the natural greenhouse effect is necessary to warm the planet, but bad if the warming continues to increase at too rapid a rate. At 5 kilometers (3 miles), ozone is a source of the hydroxyl radical, which cleanses the atmosphere of pollutants. But at ground level, ozone is a primary pollutant in smog, causing respiratory problems and damaging trees and crops.

NCAR's primary sponsor, the National Science Foundation, provided additional support for the research that made HIRDLS possible.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Center For Atmospheric Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Center For Atmospheric Research. "New Space-Borne Instrument To Track Greenhouse Gases, Ozone Destroyers, And Other Pollutants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040708004132.htm>.
National Center For Atmospheric Research. (2004, July 8). New Space-Borne Instrument To Track Greenhouse Gases, Ozone Destroyers, And Other Pollutants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040708004132.htm
National Center For Atmospheric Research. "New Space-Borne Instrument To Track Greenhouse Gases, Ozone Destroyers, And Other Pollutants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040708004132.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins