NASA PLANES TO FLY FROM HONG KONG, JAPAN
Researchers trace evolving air chemistry over Pacific
Spring has arrived in the Far East and so have the research
planes, scientists and their equipment. It is the beginning of the
greatest seasonal airflow from Asia across the Pacific and an ideal
time to collect data for the latest in a series of NASA atmospheric
science missions used to study how natural and human-induced
changes affect our global climate.
The Transport and Chemical Evolution over the Pacific (TRACE-P)
experiment, headed by NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.,
is scheduled for March through April. TRACE-P will use two
specially equipped NASA aircraft to measure gases and identify the
chemical makeup of air off the East Asian coast over the Pacific.
The mission will start its 45-day operations from Hong Kong and
finish out of Yokota Air Force Base near Tokyo.
In addition to the Dryden flight Research Center DC-8 and the
P-3B from Wallops Flight Facility, scientists will gather
information from ground stations and satellites to plan flight
patterns and interpret measurements taken on the aircraft.
"While NASA administers the TRACE-P program, it's important to
realize all of the expertise that's necessary to make the
measurements on these aircraft," said Dr. Jim Crawford, TRACE-P
deputy mission scientist and NASA Langley researcher. "We have to
bring together researchers from international universities, other
government labs and from within NASA to make an adequate assessment
of what's happening over the Pacific."
A major goal of TRACE-P is to understand the chemical makeup and
reactions of air coming from Asia. Researchers want to study how
the chemical reactions and movement affect the air as it moves away
from Asia across the Pacific. With the rapid industrialization and
increased energy use -- mostly in the form of fossil fuels --
scientists expect emissions to increase as East Asia continues to
"Out of all the industrialized regions in the world, North
America and Europe are at a much higher latitude," Crawford added.
"And since air chemistry is driven by sunlight, the Asian emissions
happening at a tropical latitude potentially have a very different
TRACE-P is part of the long series of NASA Global Tropospheric
Experiments (GTE) and a follow-up to earlier atmospheric science
investigations in 1991 and 1994. These exploratory missions studied
the Asian outflow -- air flowing over the continent to and across
the Pacific and how seasons and geography affect the
chemistry and movement of air.
GTE is aimed at a better understanding of worldwide chemistry of
the troposphere -- the part of the atmosphere closest to the
Earth's surface. Over the past twenty years, GTE has conducted
missions in the Amazon, the Arctic, the tropical Atlantic, and the
Pacific to study both natural and man-made processes that determine
the troposphere's chemical make-up.
This international research effort is part of NASA Headquarters
Office of Earth Sciences Enterprise, Washington, D.C. The
Enterprise is a long-term research effort dedicated to study the
Earth System and how it is changing due to both natural and
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