Observationalists meet to map out HIAPER sensors

by Bob Henson

Nearly 200 people convened 4–6 November at UCAR’s Center Green campus to plan a strategy for equipping the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research. The broad group included representatives from universities, government labs, and private industry, as well as UCAR and NCAR.

The Gulfstream V jet will give NCAR and its collaborators a blend of height and range unavailable from other NSF-owned aircraft. A life-size model of HIAPER’s interior sat in back of the Center Green auditorium while atmospheric chemists, upper-atmosphere physicists, and other scientists debated what sorts of instruments could and should be part of the platform. The fate of the data was also of keen interest: participants stressed the need to develop formats that are easily assimilated into models, available in real time and postflight, and compatible with the deluge of detail from satellites and other remote systems.

“This is only one path to getting instruments aboard HIAPER,” said James Huning, the NSF program official for aircraft. He pointed out that the initial NSF funding, which includes a $12.5-million target for instrumentation, is meant to equip the plane for its 2005 debut. With an expected usable life of at least 20 years, HIAPER will see many follow-on upgrades. Some of the university-based, NSF-funded instruments may reside within NCAR’s Atmospheric Technology Division, with their modifications handled by ATD or by the university. Other tools might reside at their home institutions, provided their developers agree to make them available for community use.

An upcoming article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society will report in detail on the workshop. In the meantime, some of the workshop presentations can be viewed online (see “On the Web”).

“All in all, the workshop was a very productive and positive event,” says HIAPER Project Office director Krista Laursen. With input in hand, the project staff will work with members of the HIAPER instrumentation subgroup and the aircraft advisory committee to put together “a comprehensive document for NSF that details the measurement priorities for HIAPER.”

 


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