For the last time yesterday, the Russian high-altitude research aircraft Geophysica and the German Aerospace Centre’s (DLR) Falcon set off for tropical thunderclouds in Darwin (Australia). Over the last four weeks, the research aircraft undertook a total of nine joint measurement flights in the tropical atmosphere at the interface between the troposphere and stratosphere. Within the framework of the SCOUT-03 Project, they collected data which will be incorporated into the discussion on climate change, for instance at world climate conferences. The aircraft measurement campaign is part of the integrated EU project SCOUT-03 and was coordinated by Research Centre Jülich together with colleagues from the ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Cambridge University and the DLR.
SCOUT-03 is analysing how the stratospheric ozone layer will change over the coming decades under conditions of global change. Scientists will thus be able to provide findings that will enable global assessments of ozone depletion and climate change to be made and incorporated into the Kyoto Protocol, for example. The Kyoto Protocol is currently being discussed at the World Climate Conference in the Canadian city of Montreal.
The measurement campaign in Australia focused on thunderclouds, which form almost daily at this time of year at altitudes of up to 20 kilometres at the "top end" of Australia. The tropics are of particular importance because this is where the exchange of air masses occurs between the lower (troposphere) and upper atmosphere (stratosphere). They are therefore the source region for many trace gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons, nitrogen oxides and water, which have a global influence on the ozone chemistry of the stratosphere. The gigantic thunderclouds on Darwin’s doorstep transport these air masses directly into the stratosphere within a short period of time.
Peter Schäfer | alfa
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