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Research flights from the Arctic to Antarctic paint a vivid portrait of the atmosphere

Steve Wofsy, principal investigator and atmospheric scientist for the mission, says "we now have views of whole slices of the atmosphere."

NSF's Gulfstream V aircraft, or HIAPER, in Anchorage, Alaska, during a HIPPO mission. (Credit: UCAR, Carlye Calvin.)

A three-year series of research flights from the Arctic to the Antarctic has successfully produced an unprecedented portrait of greenhouse gases and particles in the atmosphere.

The far-reaching field project, known as HIPPO, ends this week, and has enabled researchers to generate the first detailed mapping of the global distribution of gases and particles that affect Earth's climate.

HIPPO, which stands for HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations, has brought together scientists from organizations across the nation, including the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Harvard University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Miami and Princeton University.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which is NCAR's sponsor, and NOAA are funding the project.

"With HIPPO, we now have views of whole slices of the atmosphere," says Steven Wofsy, HIPPO principal investigator and atmospheric scientist at Harvard University. "We've been quite surprised by the abundance of certain atmospheric components and the locations where they are most common."

The flights have helped scientists compile extraordinary detail about the atmosphere.

For more, see the complete press release from the NSF.

Topics: Environment, Climate

Scientist Profiles

Steven C. Wofsy

Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science