Skip to Main Content

UMBC Atmospheric Scientists Use New Instrumentation

To Study Cloud and Aerosols in Exploratory NASA Aircraft Campaigns

The science teams and ER-2 pilot staff for the ACEPOL campaign, huddled in front of the NASA ER-2 aircraft. (Image: ACEPOL Science Team)

Aerosol-cloud interaction continues to puzzle climate scientists. It is among the most significant contributors to our climate but least understood. Aerosol-cloud processes are poorly represented in climate models and measurement requires high accuracy, narrow resolution, and cooperation between different instruments.

Several studies converge on the idea that a multi-angle imaging polarimeter, with high accuracy and narrow spatial and angular resolution, is the strongest candidate to sample cloud and aerosol properties at the level required for climate study. The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) is a wide field-of-view camera, designed and developed by J. Vanderlei Martins and the Laboratory for Aerosol and Cloud Optics (LACO) Group at UMBC to fill this role.

Over the past year, AirHARP, the HARP instrument adapted for aircraft, flew on two NASA research campaigns: the Lake Michigan Ozone Study (LMOS) and the Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and LIDAR (ACEPOL). The LMOS campaign was a joint NASA-NOAA-EPA effort to explore the connection between lake breezes and high ozone exceedance levels on the eastern coastline of Wisconsin in the summer months. AirHARP took data on many B-200 flights alongside the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) GeoTASO instrument, a trace gas experiment that measures ozone pre-cursors, such as NO2, through the entire atmospheric column. Brent McBride, a Ph.D candidate in Martins’ group, operated AirHARP on-board the B-200 and led field operations on the ground throughout the campaign, while LACO group members engaged remotely from UMBC. While AirHARP does not have trace gas sensitivity, measurements of convective clouds and low aerosol levels over eastern Wisconsin will be compared to co-incident observations made by AERONET sun photometer sites and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on the GOES-R geosynchronous satellite.

 

Read more:   UMBC Atmospheric Scientists Use New Instrumentation

UMBC Physicists Discover Unexpected Effect of African

Wildfires on Climate

African Fires Effect Climate

Clouds play a prominent role in moderating Earth’s climate, but their role is still poorly understood. Generally, clouds cool the Earth by reflecting incoming sunlight back out into space. Reducing the clouds’ reflectivity—with a layer of pollution, for example—reduces the cooling effect. However, new research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Zhibo Zhang, associate professor of atmospheric physics at UMBC, two of his students, and collaborators from University of Wyoming, University of Science and Technology of China, Universities Space Research Association, and University of Michigan adds another level of complexity to this model.

Every fall, fires race across central and southern Africa. Many are wildfires; others are intentionally set by humans to clear farmland. They create so much smoke that it’s clearly visible from space. Wind sweeps the smoke westward over the Atlantic Ocean, where it rises above the largest semi-permanent gathering of clouds in the world. For years, scientists believed that overall, the smoke diminishes the clouds’ cooling effect by absorbing light that the clouds beneath otherwise would reflect. The new study by Zhang and colleagues doesn’t dispute the existence of this effect, but introduces a new mechanism that counteracts it by making the clouds more reflective.

Read more:  UMBC Physicists’ New Discovery

  • Chris Shuman Discusses Trillion-Ton Antarctic Iceberg

    Coverage in both US and International Media
    After keeping scientists on their toes for weeks, the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula parted with a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware on July 12. Chris Shuman, research...
    Posted: July 28, 2017 8:47 AM
  • Lipi Mukherjee wins NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship

    Atmospheric Physics Research
    Lipi Mukherjee, Ph.D. student in atmospheric physics at UMBC, has received the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF), which will provide funding to support her research for up to three...
    Posted: June 23, 2017 8:56 AM
  • GES Faculty Visits NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Dr. Alan Yeakley, Chair of the Geography and Environmental Systems (GES), and Dr. Suzanne Braunschweig of GES visited the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Friday, May 19, 2017.  The visit was...
    Posted: June 14, 2017 9:34 AM
  • JCET Graduate Student Fellowship for 2017-18

    Dr. Susan Hoban
    Applications have been reviewed for the JCET Graduate Student Fellowship for 2017-18.  Five applications were received. Based upon the recommendations of the selection committee, Mr. Anin...
    Posted: May 31, 2017 11:45 AM
  • JCET Research Receives Wide Publicity

    NASA’s EPIC View Spots Flashes on Earth
    NASA has released a public feature on JCET research that was recently accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. The feature and a one-minute movie can be viewed...
    Posted: May 19, 2017 9:03 AM
  • Dr. Shuman Discusses Massive New Ice Shelf Branch

    110-mile rift in the Antarctic’s Larsen C ice shelf
    Christopher Shuman, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Center, believes the branch likely is a signal of larger change. “This is probably a sign of...
    Posted: May 10, 2017 11:29 AM
  • Dr. Huemmerich Discusses March for Science Goals

    March for Science raises public trust, support for discovery
    Almost five decades ago, Fred Huemmrich marched on the first Earth Day as a Pittsburgh high school student. Back then, standing up against air pollution was a controversial act, he remembers....
    Posted: April 24, 2017 8:49 AM
  • Grant Awarded from the Center of Environmental Science

    Something to CHEW On (Climate, Health, Ecosystems, Weather)
    Susan Hoban (JCET faculty) and Alexandra St. Pé (JCET graduate student) have been awarded a grant from the University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science for a project entitled "Something...
    Posted: April 21, 2017 10:54 AM
  • MANIAC TALK: From the Atom to the Atmosphere and Beyond

    J. Vanderlei Martins, Physics Professor
    Dr. Martins will discuss the saga of a young physicist who, like many others, wanted to follow Feynman’s and Einstein’s steps in making fundamental discoveries that would change the world, but...
    Posted: March 29, 2017 9:11 AM
  • On Antarctica's Larsen Ice Shelf

    Dr. Christopher Shuman, a JCET researcher who has studied ice sheets at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Earth Observatory, “Once you pop that cork, the wine inside — all that glacial...
    Posted: February 17, 2017 12:04 PM