Severe thunderstorms not only pose a threat to ground personnel. Scientists suspect that strong storms can also cause climate change, and a new NASA experiment aims to better understand this dynamic.
The work planned for this summer and next year aims to study more closely a meteorological phenomenon known as “excessive storms.” These severe storms are characterized by a bulge that is higher than the main part of the storm. Scientists are interested in how intense thunderstorms affect the atmosphere.
The project’s lead researcher Kenneth Bowman said in a statement issued by NASA: “This is the first mission specifically designed to observe the effects of excessive storms.”
Most thunderstorms occur in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere. But when there is a strong thunderstorm, the air can rise from the storm and penetrate into the upper layer, called the stratosphere.
“When you encounter a very strong storm, the updrafts are so strong that they actually carry water and particles and various chemicals all the way to the stratosphere, which is where most of the ozone on earth is located,” Bao Man said. Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University.
This is worrying because air can carry water and pollutants that would not normally reach the stratosphere. Their presence will have a major impact on the chemical composition of the stratosphere.
“We want to find out whether these storms really have an impact on the ozone layer,” Bowman said.
In addition, the stratosphere is very dry, and when water enters it, the water becomes a greenhouse gas, causing global warming.
According to NASA’s summary of the experiment, in order to learn more, scientists plan to send “up to 70,000 feet high-altitude ER-2 aircraft to collect atmospheric chemical samples to better understand the material transported to the stratosphere by convective storms.” .
The ER-2 flight plan will intercept the storm plume several hours to several days after the storm. Flying over several days will allow the same plume to be modified at different times to study how the chemicals in the plume change in the stratosphere.
According to NASA, the flight will take off from Salina, Kansas, which is an ideal location because excessive thunderstorms are common in the central United States.
“From this project, we will have a very good understanding of what is happening now, so that we can better understand the changes that may occur in the future,” Bowman said.
forward from Electronics News With permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.