Co-ordinated Airborne Studies in the Tropics - CAST

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The unique research capability of the Global Hawk, with ultra-long flights possible in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, provides a major new opportunity to advance atmospheric science. In response to the NERC/STFC/NASA collaborative initiative, we have assembled an experienced UK team that proposes to execute a research programme covering fundamental science and technology development, which, by working with the Global Hawk, will radically enhance our future research capabilities.

The Tropical Tropopause Layer (TTL) is a crucial region for chemistry/climate interactions. Building on work we have already done in this area , we will collaborate with NASA's ATTREX programme to study the TTL over the Pacific Ocean and South East Asia, with new measurements and analysis. We will address fundamental questions related to atmospheric composition, radiation and transport. The TTL controls the transport of water vapour, the crucial radiative gas, into the stratosphere; we will advance understanding of the role of sub-visible cirrus in water vapour processes. The TTL is also the main route by which very short-lived halogen species, which represent a large uncertainty in future stratospheric ozone evolution, enter the stratosphere. We will improve knowledge of the budgets of these gases and of their chemical transformation and transport through the TTL, including the role of convective transport into the TTL and the subsequent routes for transport from the TTL to the lower stratosphere. Improving representation of these processes in global chemistry/climate models is a key aim.

In order to study these processes, The FAAM BAe-146 will be deployed in Guam in Jan/Feb 2014. It will fly coordinated flights with the Global Hawk which will make measurements in the same period in the TTL over the West Pacific. Detailed involvement in all phases of the collaborative missions with ATTREX will enhance the UK potential for future research using the Global Hawk, including advanced capability in mission planning and methodologies for complex, real-time data analysis. The aircraft measurements will be interpreted in conjunction with ground-based and balloon-based measurements of very short-lived halogen species and ozone, using a complementary group of regional high resolution models, global composition models and a global cirrus model.

We will develop and test two new instruments and new software for the payload/mission-scientist interface, which are ideally suited for the capabilities of the Global Hawk. One new instrument will allow quantification in the TTL of the important physical properties of sub- and super-micron sized particles, allowing new information about clouds and radiation. We will develop a new short-wave IR spectrometer to measure greenhouse (CO2, CH4, and H2O) and other (CO) gases in the lower atmosphere by remote sensing, taking advantage of the very long flights in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Both instruments will be flight-tested in CAST.

As well as addressing the specifics of this call, CAST addresses the central vision of the Technology theme: "to engage scientists, technologists, computer specialists and engineers working both within the NERC community and outside it, identifying that in many cases it will only be through developing new partnerships that the most challenging innovations in technology can be enabled" (http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/themes/tap/documents/tap-technologies-2009.pdf). CAST brings new technology expertise in machine learning into the NERC community and strengthens the links between NERC scientists and the technology groups at Hertfordshire and the Astronomy Technology Centre.

Planned Impact

Policy makers, atmospheric scientists and the general public makers will be among the long term beneficiaries of this research. The work relates to two major policy questions; the control of halogenated substances, regulated under the Montreal Protocol, and climate change, the topic of the Kyoto Protocol. Our science will inform the international assessment processes and will be of direct interest to government departments, chiefly DECC and DEFRA.

The general public has a keen interest in global change, in general, and ozone depletion, in particular. It remains extremely important to engage with the public, to provide latest scientific evidence related to these issues, to counter the increasing levels of misinformation being propagated. We will engage with these various groups in a number if ways: through formal and informal meetings, through the peer-reviewed literature and through our web pages. Nearly all PIs give popular lectures on environmental change issues at e.g. schools and will continue to do so. We also often speak to the media.

There is a large number of people in science, the private sector and government who are interested in understanding the capabilities that can be developed for atmospheric observation from UAVs as well as what the potential uses are. CAST will inform and engage with this community in order to share the experience from CAST and to learn from the experience of others. This has the potential to develop a real UK presence in the field of UAV use and research.

CAST will provide career development for PhD students and PDRAs through involving them in the planning and implementation of field campaigns and presentations of results at project meetings, international conferences and in the peer-reviewed literature. In addition all people involved in CAST will learn about the planning and uses for UAVs.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a new spectrometer (called GHOST) for greenhouse gas remote sensing from unmanned aerial vehicle. This instrument uses innovative, cutting-edge technology and it has been designed from scratch. It is the only instrument worldwide that measures simultaneously total columns of CO2, CH4 and CO. The instrument has been successfully deployed on the NASA Global Hawk during several science flights from NASA Armstrong over the Pacific Ocean. A specific highlight was the underflight of the Japanese GOSAT and the NASA OCO-2 mission during one of the flights.
Exploitation Route The unique GHOST instrument developed in this project provides a valuable resource for monitoring of greenhouse gases emissions from a range of airborne platforms with allows a number of new applications, for example GHOST has been used to observe city-scale emissions or a fire plume (together with Kings College London) from the NERC ARSF aircraft. GHOST is also serving as a technology demonstrator for future space applications and a new concept based on GHOST called Tropical Carbon Mission has had been proposed to ESA (as part of its EE9 call) and to the UK Space Agency.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment

 
Description The instrument technology developed in this project is of significant interest to the UK Space Agency and to ESA as a predecessor for potential space mission in the area of carbon. This project has already led to follow-on funding from the UK Space Agency (CEOI) to use the instrument for airborne demonstrator over UK targets in the context of a potential bilateral carbon mission with France. We have also obtained funding from the UK Space Agency to develop a proposal for a ESA Earth Explorer 9 (EE9) call based on the technology developed in the is project. Due to budget limitations of the call, this has not been further proceeded but the mission had been proposed instead to UKSA as a bilateral mission.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment
 
Description CEOI-ST Call for Mission and Technology Preparation Activities for ESA Earth Explorer
Amount £62,680 (GBP)
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 06/2016
 
Description Demonstrating Multi-View Spectroscopy for Greenhouse Gas remote Sensing
Amount £323,730 (GBP)
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 11/2018
 
Description UKSA-CNES Bilateral Carbon Mission: Support Study
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Department Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 12/2015
 
Description Consortium for a Satellite Mission Proposal (TCM) 
Organisation Airbus Group
Department Airbus Operations
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a partnership that aims at the development of a future satellite mission in the area of CO2. The technology for this mission is based on the GHOST instrument (developped for the NERC CAST project) which I led. My role in the partnership is on the link between instrument and the science data
Collaborator Contribution The partners have made contributions to a wide range of aspect incl. a number of satellite system aspect and the science exploitation.
Impact This partnership is multi-disciplinary and includes engineering, aerospace, earth observation and carbon cycle science. The main outcome so far are two projects funded by the UKSA (CEOI) with a third proposal being submitted.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Consortium for a Satellite Mission Proposal (TCM) 
Organisation Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Department RAL Space
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a partnership that aims at the development of a future satellite mission in the area of CO2. The technology for this mission is based on the GHOST instrument (developped for the NERC CAST project) which I led. My role in the partnership is on the link between instrument and the science data
Collaborator Contribution The partners have made contributions to a wide range of aspect incl. a number of satellite system aspect and the science exploitation.
Impact This partnership is multi-disciplinary and includes engineering, aerospace, earth observation and carbon cycle science. The main outcome so far are two projects funded by the UKSA (CEOI) with a third proposal being submitted.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Consortium for a Satellite Mission Proposal (TCM) 
Organisation Selex ES
Department SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a partnership that aims at the development of a future satellite mission in the area of CO2. The technology for this mission is based on the GHOST instrument (developped for the NERC CAST project) which I led. My role in the partnership is on the link between instrument and the science data
Collaborator Contribution The partners have made contributions to a wide range of aspect incl. a number of satellite system aspect and the science exploitation.
Impact This partnership is multi-disciplinary and includes engineering, aerospace, earth observation and carbon cycle science. The main outcome so far are two projects funded by the UKSA (CEOI) with a third proposal being submitted.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Consortium for a Satellite Mission Proposal (TCM) 
Organisation UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a partnership that aims at the development of a future satellite mission in the area of CO2. The technology for this mission is based on the GHOST instrument (developped for the NERC CAST project) which I led. My role in the partnership is on the link between instrument and the science data
Collaborator Contribution The partners have made contributions to a wide range of aspect incl. a number of satellite system aspect and the science exploitation.
Impact This partnership is multi-disciplinary and includes engineering, aerospace, earth observation and carbon cycle science. The main outcome so far are two projects funded by the UKSA (CEOI) with a third proposal being submitted.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Consortium for a Satellite Mission Proposal (TCM) 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a partnership that aims at the development of a future satellite mission in the area of CO2. The technology for this mission is based on the GHOST instrument (developped for the NERC CAST project) which I led. My role in the partnership is on the link between instrument and the science data
Collaborator Contribution The partners have made contributions to a wide range of aspect incl. a number of satellite system aspect and the science exploitation.
Impact This partnership is multi-disciplinary and includes engineering, aerospace, earth observation and carbon cycle science. The main outcome so far are two projects funded by the UKSA (CEOI) with a third proposal being submitted.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Engineers deliver instrument to study 'greenhouse gases' from a NASA unmanned aircraft 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release related to the delivery of the GHOST instrument to NASA for installation on the UAV Global Hawk. This has been picked up eg by local media (Leicester Mercury).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2014/december/engineers-deliver-instrument-to-stud...
 
Description GHOST - GreenHouse Observations of the Stratosphere and Troposphere 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Handout on GHOST have been created and distributed at the ISIC stand during the Farnborough airshow

Raised interest by participants (space industry)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description GreenHouse Observations of the Stratosphere and Troposphere (GHOST): a novel shortwave infrared spectrometer developed for the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation has led to an article in Proc. SPIE 9242, Remote Sensing of Clouds and the Atmosphere XIX; and Optics in Atmospheric Propagation and Adaptive Systems XVII, 92420P (October 17, 2014); doi:10.1117/12.2067330

-
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://proceedings.spiedigitallibrary.org/proceeding.aspx?articleid=1918505
 
Description Planet Earth Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Article in NERCs Planet Earth magazine the development of the GHOST instrument that has been flown on the NASA Global Hawk; a high altitude unnamed vehicle. The article is aimed a the general public with an interest in environmental science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/planetearth/stories/1824/
 
Description Royal Society Summer Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The CAST (including GHOST) exhibition sparked large interest and has led to lively dicussions.

-
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://sse.royalsociety.org/2014/tropical-storms/