Instrumented sites will gather data to study impact of aerosols on cloud formation and precipitation
For Immediate Release: June 10, 2011
WASHINGTON DC – Through an intergovernmental agreement with India, this week the U.S. Department of Energy began operating a portable atmospheric research laboratory at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) in India for the Ganges Valley Aerosol Experiment, or GVAX. Measurements obtained during the nine-month field study will enable scientists to study how aerosols—small particles, like dust and soot, in the air—affect the formation of clouds and whether they increase or decrease the amount of precipitation that falls from them. Their findings will be used to improve computer models that simulate Earth’s climate system.
“This is the first large-scale field study that the United States or any other country has conducted in India that is related to environmental and climate issues,” said Wanda Ferrell, program manager for DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, the sponsor for the study.
Some studies suggest that haze over the Ganges Valley region will increase temperature and pressure, which could draw moisture from the ocean and intensify seasonal monsoons. Other studies indicate the increased heat will cause clouds to dry up. To refine these possibilities, data are needed that span both the summer and winter monsoon seasons.
Perfectly suited to obtain this type of data, the ARM Climate Research Facility manages two portable climate research laboratories, or mobile facilities. Equipped with nearly two dozen remote sensing instruments to take continuous measurements of clouds, aerosols, and other atmospheric properties, one ARM Mobile Facility is now operating at the ARIES Observatory in Nainital.
“This comprehensive investigation takes full advantage of the two countries’ overlapping scientific interest, advanced observational capabilities, ongoing atmospheric aerosol research activities in India and scientific expertise,” said Dr. K. Krishnamoorthy, Director, Space Physics Laboratory of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). ISRO is the lead institution in India for implementing this program, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology & Indian Institute of Science. “It is expected that this mutually enriching cooperation will result in a major step forward in quantifying the climate implications of aerosols globally, in general, and over South Asia, in particular.”
In January 2012, more scientific instruments provided though the Energy Department and India’s Institute of Science will join the study at two additional sites in the Ganges Valley. Then aircraft will obtain measurements from the sky above all the sites between February and April 2012.
The ARM Climate Research Facility is a DOE Office of Science user facility, with heavily instrumented fixed research sites in Oklahoma, Alaska, and the tropical Western Pacific. It also provides mobile and aerial measurement platforms to support research around the world. DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory manages the operations of the ARM Mobile Facility.
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