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Airborne aerosol measurements onboard the NASA research aircraft DC-8

The NASA-sponsored Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom) investigates how human emissions affect air quality and climate change in the atmosphere by making measurements with a DC-8 aircraft that will carry out repeated climbs and descents between 0.2-12 km while flying from near the North Pole down the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to the edge of Antarctica and back up the Atlantic Ocean. These flights will be repeated in four seasons over a period of three years while multiple instruments on the plane observe the composition of the air.

Understanding and reducing how humans change air quality and climate is a major challenge to society in the 21st century.

During ATom, the University of Vienna will measure the size and concentration of coarse-mode (supermicron) aerosol particles that are composed primarily of mineral dust and sea-salt. These particles form a particularly poorly understood and characterized subset of atmospheric aerosol constituents that have a large effect on climate. In combination with aerosol measurements by CIRES and NOAA researchers on the DC-8, we will complete a characterization of the total aerosol system in the remote atmosphere.

The ATom data set will provide fundamental measurements that challenge global models of atmospheric chemistry by observing for the first time chemical compounds that cannot be detected by satellite and instead must be measured by traveling to the remote atmosphere.

If you want to follow us during the preparations for the ATom project and our measurements during the first ATom deployment in summer 2016, visit our blog A³-team @ ATom[1].

[1] Austrian Airborne Aerosol Measurements at Atmospheric Tomography Mission

Contact: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Bernadett Weinzierl

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