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International experiment to change global weather forecasts: New Zealand scientists
by Staff Writers
Wellington, NZ (XNA) Jun 10, 2014

File image.

Scientists from five countries on Friday began one of the biggest ever scientific experiments in New Zealand, with the aim of significantly improving global weather forecasts.

About 200 scientists from organizations in New Zealand, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia will take part in the six-week experiment to measure gravity waves up to 100 km above the earth's surface over the Southern Alps mountains in the South Island.

The DEEPWAVE (Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment) project involved two specially equipped research aircraft, a Gulfstream V jet from the United States and a Falcon 20 jet from Germany, acting as "flying laboratories," according to the New Zealand government's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

Several years in the planning, DEEPWAVE was aimed at better understanding how gravity waves evolved and how they could be better predicted, ultimately leading to more accurate weather forecasts, NIWA scientist Dr. Michael Uddstrom said in a statement.

The Southern Alps offered a unique opportunity for this type of atmospheric research because of the reliability of the westerly wind circulation patterns in the area.

"The effects of gravity waves have not been well studied and this experiment will enable us to add vital data to our weather and climate prediction models," Uddstrom said.

The data collected would have a vital role in enhancing computer modelling of weather and climate across the globe.

The Gulfstream V research aircraft would use multiple technologies to take measurements between the surface and the 100- km altitude, while the Falcon 20 aircraft would fly at a lower altitude slightly ahead, taking measurements from the surface up to about 11 km.

The aircraft would make about 20 flights, each lasting up to nine hours, at night to make the most of the atmospheric conditions when gravity waves were being generated.

The measurements would be integrated with data collected on the ground and by satellite to provide a complete vertical profile of the atmosphere from the ground up to about 100 km.

Source: Xinhua News Agency


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