Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research flew from the Arctic to the Antarctic in the first flight of a three-year project to measure carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The aim is to measure where and when greenhouse gases enter and leave the atmosphere from both natural processes and human activity.
NCAR is operating a specially equipped Gulfstream V aircraft that is owned by the National Science Foundation with an instrument cluster known as High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER). The project is named HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations or HIPPO.
Scientists are excited about this platform for its ability to see the entire globe in great detail all at once. Satellites provide a global view, but not in the level of detail that this platform achieves, and not at the quick frequency that the plane is capable of. The global flight path departs from Boulder, Colorado to Alaska, the Arctic Circle, then south to New Zealand and Antarctica. Similar flight paths will be followed on the four subsequent missions through mid-2011 but at different times of year.
View this video about the route that NCAR is taking around the globe.