Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Southern Alps focus for international science experiment

Southern Alps focus for large international science experiment

NIWA scientists are this month taking a significant role in one of the largest science experiments to take place in New Zealand.

Called DEEPWAVE (Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment), the international experiment involving universities and research centres from five countries, is studying the atmosphere over the Southern Alps during June and July.

Two specially equipped research aircraft, a Gulfstream V jet from the US and a Falcon 20 jet from Germany, will act as “flying laboratories”, making up to 20 flights each over the six week duration of the experiment. They will be based at Christchurch Airport.

DEEPWAVE also involves scientists working from six sites across the South Island and in Wellington. The experiment has been several years in the planning and the overseas or international involvement is being funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Naval Research and Naval Research Laboratory.

It aims to better understand how gravity waves evolve and how they can be better predicted. The information gathered will ultimately lead to more accurate weather forecasts.

NIWA scientist Michael Uddstrom said 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,” Dr Uddstrom said.

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

The NSF/National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream V research aircraft from the US will be using multiple technologies to take measurements between the surface and 100km altitude.

These include deploying dropsondes that measure the atmospheric from the aircraft to the surface and lidars that look upward that make measurements of key atmospheric parameters up to almost 100 km.

A Falcon 20 aircraft, operated by the German Aerospace Centre, will fly at a lower altitude slightly ahead of the Gulfstream taking measurements from the surface up to about 11km.

NIWA’s expertise in weather prediction science is crucial to the experiment with NIWA scientists based in Christchurch assisting with forecasting the best times for the aircraft to fly to make the most of the atmospheric conditions when gravity waves are being generated. The flights take place at night and may last up to nine hours.

Up to 200 people, including about 15 NIWA staff, will be involved in the experiments with scientists based in the South Island at Hokitika, Birdlings Flat (near Christchurch), Mt John (Lake Tekapo), Lauder (Central Otago), Invercargill and Haast.

They will be responsible for taking a range of measurements that will be then be integrated with aircraft and satellite data to provide a complete vertical profile of the atmosphere from the ground up to about 100km. A full meteorological station is also being set up at Hokitika Airport.

NIWA’s Tony Bromley and Sally Gray will be at Haast, where their equipment will be set up in a paddock. They will release weather balloons that will fly to more than 30km altitude to coincide with the research flights. Radiosondes attached to the balloons will transmit a range of atmospheric measurements.

Mr Bromley said it was an exciting experiment to be involved in because of its scale and the new information that would be gathered.

“We want to show how important these gravity waves are. The more data we collect, the more information we can put into our computer models of the atmosphere and the more accurate our weather and climate forecasting will be.”

Dr Uddstrom is one of the principal investigators involved in the project reflecting NIWA’s long-standing reputation a leading atmospheric science research institute.

DEEPWAVE is also being operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre DLR, UK Met Office, NZ MetService, NRL and the Australian Antarctic Division.


DEEPWAVE runs from June 6 to July 27.
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Must Sell 20 Petrol Stations: Z Cleared To Buy Caltex Assets

Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coordination between fuel retailers occurs in some regions. More>>

ALSO:

Huntly: Genesis Extends Life Of Coal-Fuelled Power Station To 2022

Genesis Energy will keep its two coal and gas-fired units at Huntly Power Station operating until 2022, having previously said they'd be closed by 2018, after wringing a high price from other electricity generators who wanted to keep them as back-up. More>>

ALSO:

Dammed If You Do: Ruataniwha Irrigation Scheme Hits Farmer Uptake Targets

Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter announced. More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: OCR Stays At 2.25%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2.25 percent, in a decision traders had said could go either way, while predicting inflation will pick up as the slump in oil prices washes out of the data and capacity pressures start to build in the economy. More>>

ALSO:

Export Values Down: NZ Posts Biggest Annual Trade Deficit In 7 Years

New Zealand has recorded its biggest annual trade deficit since April 2009, reflecting weaker prices of agricultural commodities such as dairy products, beef and lamb, and increased imports of vehicles and machinery. More>>

ALSO:

Currency Events: NZ's New $5 Note Wins International Banknote Award

New Zealand’s new Brighter Money $5 note has been named Banknote of the Year in a prestigious international competition. The $5 note was awarded the IBNS Banknote of the Year title at the International Bank Note Society’s annual meeting. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news