Images

Hands-on at this exhibit

  • Learn about tropical storms
  • See the possibilities of future technology
  • Experience the excitement of working on research aircraft

Further reading

Ashfold, M.J. et al. 2012 Transport of short-lived species into the Tropical Tropopause Layer. Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics 14, 979-994

Levine, J.G. et al. 2007 Pathways and timescales for troposphere-to-stratosphere transport via the tropical tropopause layer and their relevance for very short lived substances. Journal of Geophysical Research 112, D04308

Storms in the West Pacific play a crucial role in the global climate system. Starting above some of the warmest waters, they carry sufficient energy to punch through the boundary that separates the troposphere, the lowest layer in the atmosphere, from the stratosphere above. In doing so, they reach as high as 20 km and carry air up from the Earth’s surface.  Chemicals in the air reaching the stratosphere can lead to ozone depletion. The storms are also important for the El Nino / Southern Oscillation and the jet stream which can affect weather and climate many thousands of miles away.

 
Storms in the West Pacific play a crucial role in the global climate system. They can punch through the boundary separating the lowest layer in the atmosphere from the stratosphere above, leading to ozone depletion. Discover how air moves within these storms and how they influence our atmosphere.
Three research aircraft (the UK NERC FAAM BAe-146, the US NSF/NCAR HIAPER and the unmanned NASA Global Hawk) were involved in a unique experiment investigating storms in the West Pacific. Covering the Earth’s surface from as high as 20 km, special instruments on these aircraft were able to measure the air as it was sucked into the storms and then again when it was expelled at the top. Based in Guam, these aircraft made observations over vast areas over a ten week period and encountered air whose composition showed signs of the clean southern hemisphere, the polluted regions in the northern hemisphere, the emissions of marine organisms in the Pacific and the rarefied air from the stratosphere. By combining the measurements, much is being learnt about how air moves in these storms and how they influence the upper atmosphere. Such field campaigns are exciting but gruelling, and behind the science are the stories of how individual scientists deal with the myriad of technical and every day problems that crop up. We highlight these stories as well as the science to give a complete representation of an aircraft measurement campaign.
Lead image: A convective storm pumping air up high in the tropics.