"Industry, transportation, and biomass burning in North America, Europe, and Asia are emitting trace gases and tiny airborne particles that are polluting the polar region, forming an Arctic Haze every winter and spring. Scientists suspect these pollutants are speeding up the polar melt.
"Called ARCPAC (Aerosol, Radiation, and Cloud Processes affecting Arctic Climate Change), the project is a NOAA contribution to International Polar Year 2008. The experiment will be coordinated with the agencys long-term climate monitoring station at Barrow, Alaska, and with simultaneous projects conducted by NASA and the Department of Energy.
"'This is our first airborne deployment of a powerful new suite of instruments in the Arctic,' said ARCPAC lead scientist Dan Murphy, also of NOAAs Earth System Research Laboratory. 'When we analyze all the data, well 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.'
"Scientists aboard the NOAA WP-3D research aircraft will use nearly 30 airborne sensors to answer questions about airborne particles, altered clouds, low-altitude ozone, and soot deposited on snow. All are produced or affected by human activities and may be playing key roles in the rapid warming.
"In a related study, also taking place this month, the NOAA-led International Chemistry Experiment in the Arctic Lower Troposphere (ICEALOT) will gather shipboard measurements of atmospheric fine particles and trace gases in the air above the North Greenland and Barents seas, which are closer to sources than the ARCPAC study area. NOAA scientists are eager to compare the pollution north of Alaska with the more recent emissions near Europe."
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