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If only they could cash in the air miles. By flying nearly 50,000 kilometres between the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic coast and repeatedly sampling the air at a broad range of altitudes, scientists are building the most detailed profile of the atmosphere yet...
Scientists generally have to rely on ground measurements and then use mathematical models to extrapolate upwards when they need to create a picture of the global atmosphere, says Steve Wofsy, an atmospheric researcher at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the principal investigator for the US $4-million HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) project. "That's like studying the ocean by studying what is on the surface of the ocean," he says. In contrast, HIPPO can help modellers to test their ability to reproduce the atmosphere in three dimensions.
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