Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unmanned Aircraft To Study Southern California Smog And Its Consequences

Date:
May 8, 2008
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Using sophisticated unmanned aircraft, research scientists hope to assess Southern California's potential for climate change and better understand the sources of air pollution.

Technicians prepare an autonomous unmanned aircraft for launch at Edwards Air Force Base. The Scripps-led California AUAV Air Pollution Profiling Study (CAPPS) uses unmanned aircraft to make several types of meteorological measurements in the atmosphere. Data from CAPPS helps researchers characterize Southern California's smog and identify its many points of origin.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - San Diego

Using sophisticated unmanned aircraft, research scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego hope to assess Southern California's potential for climate change and better understand the sources of air pollution.

Related Articles


Funded by the California Energy Commission, the California AUAV Air Pollution Profiling Study (CAPPS) uses autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (AUAVs) to gather meteorological data as the aircraft fly through clouds and aerosol masses in Southern California skies. The flights will take place at Edwards Air Force Base near Rosamond, Calif. The study began its first sortie of data-gathering flights in April 2008.

Scripps Atmospheric and Climate Sciences Professor V. Ramanathan, CAPPS's lead scientist, said the characteristics of Southern California climate and meteorology - ranging from its dry weather to its tendency to trap rather than export smog - could make it especially prone to climate change consequences of air pollution such as accelerated snowmelt and dimming at ground level.

"These monthly UAV flights will provide unprecedented data for evaluating how long range transport of pollutants including ozone, soot and other particulates from the northwest United States, Canada, east Asia and Mexico mix with local pollution and influence our air quality and regional climate including the early melting of snow packs," said Ramanathan.

Data collection began on April 2, 2008 and will continue through January 2009, offering researchers a chance to view seasonal variations in air pollution.

Ramanathan's team revolutionized the gathering of atmospheric data in 2006 when the researchers first successfully deployed the aircraft in the Maldives AUAV Campaign (MAC). Miniaturized instruments on the aircraft, which typically flew in formations of three, measured a range of properties such as the quantity and size of the aerosols on which cloud droplets form. The instruments also recorded variables such as temperature, humidity and the intensity of light that permeates clouds and masses of smog. It was the first time such comprehensive measurements were made at a cost that was very low relative to traditional manned flights.

The Scripps researchers have used data from MAC and other field campaigns to observe that a pervasive mass of air pollution in south and east Asia, commonly referred to as the "atmospheric brown cloud," can disrupt rainfall patterns and cause cooling at ground level but warming at higher altitudes. The cloud typically contains a mix of dust, sulfates and soot and other forms of black carbon. These aerosols are primarily the products of diesel combustion, agricultural biomass burning, use of wood- and cow dung-burning stoves in rural homes and the use of coal in home heating.

Ramanathan and his team linked the brown cloud to an observed acceleration of glacial melt in the Himalayas. Himalayan glaciers provide billions of people in Asia with their drinking water.

In CAPPS, the Scripps team hopes to determine how much of Southern California's air pollution comes from Asia, Mexico and from regions north of California. Scientists routinely observe aerosol masses traveling across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast but are still trying to understand the effects of that pollution. The imported smog is only one of several sources of atmospheric aerosols in Southern California, joining local auto and industrial emissions and smoke from wildfires. Researchers have seen evidence that this air pollution can mix with falling snow and accelerate its melt when sunlight hits and warms the "dirty" snow in mountain watersheds.

"Black carbon and ozone are two major contributors to global warming, next to carbon dioxide," said Ramanathan. "We hope to document the vertical profiles of black carbon and ozone and their climate warming effects for the first time over California, and this data will likely help California reduce its global warming commitment."

The California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program will employ CAPPS results in an analysis of the potential future economic and ecological consequences of Southern California air pollution. Scientists also hope to combine CAPPS results with satellite data to better understand the role of aerosols at a larger regional scale.

"As we learn more about the air we breathe and seek solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, this important atmospheric research will help us address the serious challenges to California's water resources, ecology, and the health of our residents," said Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld. "With this study, California continues to demonstrate its commitment as a national leader in climate change research."

The aircraft will profile atmospheric conditions at altitudes ranging between 2,000 and 12,000 feet. Because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations that prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying in public airspace, the flight paths will be limited to military airspace, which is exempted from FAA rules. The researchers hope to conduct the flights at least once a month or as often as every two weeks. The Scripps team also hopes to gather data on a situational basis such as during wildfires.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Unmanned Aircraft To Study Southern California Smog And Its Consequences." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080506100329.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2008, May 8). Unmanned Aircraft To Study Southern California Smog And Its Consequences. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080506100329.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Unmanned Aircraft To Study Southern California Smog And Its Consequences." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080506100329.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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