The Guam Daily Post

12 23Sat11282015


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Scientists explain global warming projects

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SCIENTISTS have been operating out of Guam to study the atmosphere in order to better understand global warming. A community open house was held last Saturday, which gave the public a chance to discover why the researchers have had their heads in the clouds for the past month.

A Gulfstream V and a BAe-146 were the two manned aircrafts researchers depended on for the research projects. Both planes, along with a model of NASA’s unmanned Global Hawk, were parked at the ACI hangar in Tiyan. Visitors were able to tour the inside of the Gulfstream and the BAe-146, while researchers took the day off to explain what they had been doing and how the information they collected will be used for climate research.

“We’re much more about global climate than anything else,” said Laura Pan, a principal investigator for the CONTRAST project. CONTRAST worked with two other projects, called CAST and ATTREX, to secure needed aircraft and instruments in order to collect samples from the atmosphere and measure the weather-related data in the western Pacific region.

Pan said this time of year is when the tallest and most massive storms form. “The storms here are massive and tall so they push a lot of things up,” she said. The composition of elements that are pushed into the upper layers of the atmosphere affect the sun’s radiation on the earth, Pan added.

Jointly enlisted

CAST’s BAe-146 and NASA’s Global Hawk were jointly enlisted for data collection at different levels of the atmosphere in order to provide the best result, Pan said. The BAe-146 was tasked with flying near the surface to see how the human influence and how the biology of the ocean would tie into the air mass that is pushed up into the upper levels of the atmosphere. The Global Hawk gathered information within the uppermost layer researchers studied. “Our role is to go up and down to connect what is on the surface to what the Global Hawk measured,” Pan said of project CONTRAST’s work.

Inlet instruments were attached to the outside of the plane to collect air samples and take other measurements, such as temperature and chemical composition of the air, while in flight.

Pan said there very little data derived from this area of the world and that Guam was an ideal base to study the surrounding area. Researchers have flown as far north as Japan and as far south as Palau during the past four weeks collecting data between the various layers of the atmosphere.

The CONTRAST team expects to finish their research sometime next month, and Neil Harris of the CAST project said the BAe-146’s last flight will be tomorrow. Pan said the results will go toward worldwide climate research and provide supportive data for weather models in order to produce accurate readings and predictions.

The National Science Foundation announced the joint research venture last month. “The remote waters (here) affect billions of people by shaping climate and air chemistry worldwide,” the NSF said in a statement. “With the warmest ocean waters on Earth, the western tropical Pacific fuels a sort of chimney whose output has global reach.”

Principal investigator Ross Salawitch, who works alongside Pan on the CONTRAST project, said the process has gone quite smoothly with no significant technical glitches thus far.

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