FAIRBANKS, Alaska, April 9 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they're now flying across the arctic, trying to determine why the area is warming and losing its sea ice so rapidly.
Some 35 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers, along with university colleagues, are conducting the study through April 23.
"The Arctic is changing before our eyes," said A.R. Ravishankara, director of the chemistry division at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. "Capturing in detail the processes behind this large and surprisingly rapid transformation is a unique opportunity for understanding climate changes occurring elsewhere."
The experiment, called ARCPAC -- Aerosol, Radiation, and Cloud Processes affecting Arctic Climate Change -- is being coordinated with NOAA's long-term climate monitoring station at Barrow, Alaska, and with National Aeronautics and Space Administration and U.S. Department of Energy projects.
"This is our first airborne deployment of a powerful new suite of instruments in the Arctic," ARCPAC lead scientist Dan Murphy said. "When we analyze all the data, we'll be able to piece together the equivalent of a 'high-def' movie of the atmosphere as springtime sunlight warms the region and sparks a chain of chemical reactions."
NOAA officials said the project is part of International Polar Year 2008.