Global warming studied from research jet

Jan. 8, 2009 at 4:19 PM

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. and other scientists have begun the first global greenhouse-gas sampling across many altitudes in some of the world's least accessible regions.

The pole-to-pole mission will cover more than 24,000 miles over the next three years in a series of five flights in an advanced research jet known as HIAPER, the team led by Harvard University said.

Research partners include the U.S. government's National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the non-governmental National Center for Atmospheric Research and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Until now, much of scientists' understanding of greenhouse gases -- believed to be the fundamental cause of global warming -- has been acquired from distant satellites, balloon launches or supercomputer models.

The HIAPER mission will give scientists real-time global observation data from a wide range of altitudes to correlate with those climate models, the researchers said.

HIAPER stands for High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research. The mission's modified Gulfstream V jet can fly at high altitudes for extended time periods and can carry 5,600 pounds of sensing equipment.

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