Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New NSF aircraft to probe hazardous atmospheric whirlwinds

07.03.2006


Advanced plane called HIAPER makes its first science mission



Today, the nation’s most-advanced research aircraft will take flight on its first science mission. Scientists aboard will study a severe type of atmospheric turbulence that forms near mountains and endangers planes flying in the vicinity. The mission will last two months, ending on April 30, 2006.

Owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., the aircraft will fly over treacherous whirlwinds, known as rotors, as they form above the California Sierra Nevada range.


Called HIAPER (High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research), the plane will embark on a series of 10-hour flights that will take it from its base at Jefferson County Airport in Colorado to California’s central valley during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment, or T-REX.

Rotors, which form on the lee side of high, steep mountains, have contributed to a number of aircraft accidents, but scientists know little about their structure and evolution. They are common in the Sierras because the area has the steepest topography in the continental United States. Owens Valley, where T-REX will be based, sits some 10,000 feet directly below the highest peaks of the adjacent mountains

Capable of reaching an altitude of 51,000 feet and cruising for 7,000 miles, HIAPER is ideally suited for this experiment, say atmospheric researchers.

"HIAPER’s first science campaign, on the origin and evolution of rotors, could not have been done without the long-range capabilities of such an aircraft," says Margaret Leinen, NSF assistant director for geosciences. "In addition, HIAPER’s communications and data capabilities will allow the entire T-REX science team to participate in the experiment, whether or not they are actually on board."

An international research team of about 60 scientists, led by Vanda Grubisic of the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., will study the rotors from several perspectives. On the ground, researchers will probe rotors with radars, lidars (laser-based radars), automated weather stations, wind profilers, and balloons.

Researchers aboard HIAPER will observe rotors from above and release instruments called dropsondes into the most turbulent areas. Two other aircraft from Great Britain and the University of Wyoming, flying at lower elevations, will gather data and aim cloud radars into the rotors.

"After more than a decade of planning and several years of engineering studies, NSF’s HIAPER is ready for its first full scale research project," says Jim Huning, NSF program director for the airborne platform. "The project will help forecasters predict when and where rotors are most likely to occur and the degree of their intensity, as well as the nature of the mountain waves that crest high above rotors and cause strong turbulence. Without information gathered on HIAPER flights, this understanding would not be possible."

Rotors have intrigued scientists since the 19th century, "and frustrated pilots since they started flying near mountains," Grubisic says. "With the newest advances in airborne measurements, remote sensing, and atmospheric modeling, we are can now tackle basic scientific questions on the evolution and predictability of rotors, and of breaking mountain waves. The results will improve aviation safety near mountainous terrain."

Scientists will also study the pollutants and particles that are moved around by air waves above and near mountains, and that affect climate and air quality. By flying as high as the lower stratosphere, HIAPER will enable researchers to gather data about the distribution of chemicals high in the atmosphere after mountain waves rearrange the chemicals.

"From a scientific point of view, this will be a fantastic part of the atmosphere to be flying around in because of the turbulence and the movements of air masses," says T-REX scientist Jorgen Jensen of NCAR. "With our advanced instrument payload and our flight paths, the amount of data we will collect will be unprecedented for describing airflow over mountains."

Results from this project "should enable models to be more effective in forecasting turbulent conditions associated with mountain waves," says scientist Richard Dirks of NCAR.

The T-REX team will include veteran NCAR researcher Joachim Kuettner, who first explored the newly discovered rotors in Germany in the 1930s with an open sailplane. Now 96, Kuettner is a principal investigator on T-REX. "I’ve always wanted to explore rotors," he says. "It’s taken me this long to find a way."

Thanks to HIAPER, Kuettner’s dream of understanding turbulence near high mountains may soon become a reality.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>