Scientists in Christchurch to sample our atmosphere

  • Breaking
  • 11/11/2009

An American aircraft on a pole-to-pole adventure has touched down in Christchurch on a very unique mission to take home a slice of our atmosphere.

Eight American scientists are flying between the North and South Pole in a specially kitted-out Gulfstream V jet to gauge the level of pollution in the earth's atmosphere.

“You can really see the combination of influences as we're flying along,” says lead researcher Britt Stephens.

“When we were over the North Pole last January, you could see this huge pool of carbon dioxide built up from industrial emissions and forest respiration.”

Continuously climbing and dipping between 300m and 15,000m in altitude, the jet's readings are unique, taking samples of greenhouse gases over farmland, cities and oceans.

The instruments on board measure hundreds of different types of gases as the jet flies along, including carbon dioxide, methane and black carbon.

This system collects air samples of other gases which are sent back to the United States for testing.

The jet will stop in Christchurch five times during the three-year project and the scientists hope their results will lead to better predictions about climate change.

“It’s exciting on a global scale,” says researcher Dr Vanessa Sherlock

“This is the first time people are going to get this type of picture of a slice through the atmosphere of how these gases are distributed.”

The team leaves Christchurch tomorrow for an eight-hour round trip to the South Pole, before returning to the Northern Hemisphere.

3 News

source: newshub archive