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March 14, 2001

Release: 01-13

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By studying the springtime airflow from Asia across the Pacific, NASA scientists intend to collect information to learn how natural and human-induced changes affect our global climate.

The Transport and Chemical Evolution over the Pacific (TRACE-P) experiment begins its 45-day operation this month from Hong Kong and finishes at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Japan. The mission is using two specially equipped NASA aircraft to measure gases and identify the chemical makeup of air off the East Asian coast over the Pacific Ocean.

A DC-8 from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., and a P-3B from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., will gather information, augmented by satellites and ground stations.

A major goal of TRACE-P is to understand the makeup and chemical reactions of air coming from Asia. Researchers want to study how the chemical reactions and movement affect the air as it sweeps away from Asia across the Pacific. With rapid industrialization and increased energy use, mostly in the form of fossil fuel, scientists expect emissions to increase as East Asia continues to develop.

TRACE-P is part of the long series of NASA Global Tropospheric Experiments (GTE) and a follow-up to earlier atmospheric science investigations in 1991and 1994. These exploratory missions studied the Asian outflow -- air flowing over the continent 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, which is the part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth's surface.

This international research effort is part of NASA's Office of Earth Sciences Enterprise, Headquarters, Washington, D.C. The Enterprise is a long-term research effort dedicated to studying the Earth System and how it is changing due to both natural and human-induced processes.


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