In-Situ Measurements of the Global Distribution of Aerosol Particles
Atmospheric aerosols affect climate by direct scattering of solar radiation and by altering cloud properties. Current uncertainties in anthropogenic aerosol forcing are one of the largest factors in total uncertainties in predicting climate change. In situ measurements of the properties, origins and climatic relevance of aerosols are needed to constrain global climate models, validate satellite measurements and better understand aerosol sources and processing in the atmosphere. In-situ measurements of aerosol in the remote free troposphere have hitherto been particularly sparse.
The Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom) is a unique set of measurements characterizing the remote free troposphere. ATom uses the NASA DC-8 as a flying lab, equipped with gas phase and aerosol measurements, flying over both Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins, with near pole-to-pole coverage, constantly scanning between 0.2 and 13km altitude. Measurements are conducted in all four seasons to capture seasonal variations. So far three out of four deployments have been completed.