Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First measurement flight: Research aircraft HALO explores trade wind clouds

Date:
December 10, 2013
Source:
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Summary:
Which climate effects do clouds have? Under what conditions do they warm or cool the atmosphere? Today, after more than five years of preparation, the specially equipped research aircraft HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) takes off for its first measurement flight in atmospheric research.

"Belly Pod" underneath the hull of HALO. It contains radiometers, a radar and a laser for measuring profiles during the flights.
Credit: DLR

Which climate effects do clouds have? Under what conditions do they warm or cool the atmosphere? Today, after more than five years of preparation, the specially equipped research aircraft HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) takes off for its first measurement flight in atmospheric research. Prof. Bjorn Stevens and Dr. Lutz Hirsch from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) leave Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany for a ten-hour flight to Barbados.

They will operate numerous measuring instruments on board HALO on behalf of the German atmospheric research: "A day we have eagerly awaited," says Stevens. "It is the first major mission to exploit the novel capabilities of HALO to measure vertical profiles of all components of atmospheric water -- like vapor, liquid and ice, in both cloud and precipitation forms, as well as the aerosol particles upon which cloud droplets form -- from a high altitude. A new era of airborne atmospheric research." The aircraft, equipped with a large amount of advanced technology, is an initiative by German climate and environmental research institutions (see below) and is operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The flight is part of the NARVAL project (Next-generation Aircraft Remote-Sensing for Validation Studies) and will provide the scientists with more detailed information on the constitution of tropical clouds (Fig. 1). The transatlantic flights from Oberpfaffenhofen to Barbados will complement the stationary measurements of the cloud observatory on Barbados. The collected data will contribute to a better understanding of cloud and precipitation processes and will help to reduce uncertainties in climate models.

Remote sensing instruments, located in the "Belly Pod" underneath the aircraft´s hull, will detect vertical profiles of temperature and humidity and the distribution of droplets and aerosols (Fig. 2). Additionally, so-called dropsondes will be released during the flight. These radiosondes usually ascend from Earth with the help of a weather balloon and perform measurements on their way through the atmosphere. This time, they will be dropped by parachute and will glide back to the ground.

The first measurement flight is a joint project of the MPI-M with the Meteorological Institute of the University Hamburg, DLR, Universities of Cologne, Leipzig and Heidelberg and the Forschungszentrum Jülich. It will take the scientists on a long-haul flight to Barbados, where the MPI-M cloud observatory is located, and back. Ideally, comparison measurements with the satellite CloudSat will be performed during the flights. The satellite measures the Atlantic clouds in trajectories crosswise to the flight route. Short flights of HALO in parallel with these satellite trajectories make it possible to verify the satellite´s measurements (Fig. 3): the aircraft flies at a lower altitude than the satellite and can therefore detect the clouds much more accurate.

In total, the air route Oberpfaffenhofen -- Barbados and back should be flown three times in December 2013 ("NARVAL South"). During the second flight, a local flight from Barbados eastward through the trade wind clouds is planned. The aim is to detect clouds that are directly heading for the Barbados cloud observatory and to compare them to the land-based cloud observatory data.

The second part of the mission will be carried out under the direction of the University Hamburg in January ("NARVAL North"). HALO will be based on Iceland to examine the backsides of fronts over the North Atlantic. The amount of precipitation on the backsides of fronts is a controversial topic in science because satellite observations and model calculations provide different results. "Measured values are missing​​ because ships do not sail in these typical storm zones" says principal investigator Prof. Felix Ament from the Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg. "A successful HALO mission could provide important facts and eliminate a 'blank spot' on the map of science."

The research aircraft HALO is an initiative by German climate and environmental research institutions. HALO is funded by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), German Research Foundation (DFG), Helmholtz Association, Max Planck Society, Leibniz Association, Free State of Bavaria, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich and German Aerospace Center (DLR)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. "First measurement flight: Research aircraft HALO explores trade wind clouds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210072038.htm>.
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. (2013, December 10). First measurement flight: Research aircraft HALO explores trade wind clouds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210072038.htm
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. "First measurement flight: Research aircraft HALO explores trade wind clouds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210072038.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
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