UCAR to Direct Operations for NSF
NCAR to Guide Aircraft, Enhance Climate Models, Untangle Mysteries of Atmospheric Mercury
BOULDER--The densest yellow dust storms in recent times blew into Beijing and elsewhere from over the high deserts of China and Mongolia last spring. This year's plumes have again begun their eastward journey toward heavily populated Asian cities and the northwest Pacific Ocean. Awaiting their arrival will be 130 scientists from nine countries, along with two research vessels, four research aircraft, a half dozen satellites, and extensive ground- based networks of lidar, radar, and other instruments. The researchers are gathering in the western Pacific region to observe the optical, chemical, and radiative properties of this year's plumes as they collide with some of the planet's heaviest pollution.
The Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-Asia) extends from late March through mid-May. (Aerosols are fine particles suspended in air.) Researchers will be tracking and observing sulfate and carbon- containing aerosols emitted by soft coal combustion and the burning of wood and field growth. Sea salt adds slightly to the region's aerosol load. And then there's the dust.
The developing Asian countries "have got a unique fuel mix, but the dust is what makes it really interesting," says Barry Huebert (University of Hawaii), principal investigator for ACE-Asia and two earlier ACE experiments.
Timing is important. The dust storms occur in winter over the high deserts, sending dense plumes over the populous cities of China, Japan, and Korea in spring. By summer, thunderstorms change the circulation, disrupting the large dust plumes, and "rain out" much of the pollution.
The field operations director for ACE-Asia is Richard Dirks of the
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), who will
oversee daily operations, logistics, and data analysis for the
National Science Foundation from proje
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research