Solar radiation enters the Earth's atmosphere with a portion being scattered by clouds and aerosols.

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Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS)


Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) airborne field study was conducted from August 6 to September 23, 2014.  The field operation was based in Houston, Texas.  The primary SEAC4RS science objectives are: to determine how pollutant emissions are redistributed via deep convection throughout the troposphere; to determine the evolution of gases and aerosols in deep convective outflow and the implications for UT/LS chemistry; to identify the influences and feedbacks of aerosol particles from anthropogenic pollution and biomass burning on meteorology and climate through changes in the atmospheric heat budget (i.e., semi-direct effect) or through microphysical changes in clouds (i.e., indirect effects); and lastly, to serve as a calibration and validation test bed for future satellite instruments and missions.


The airborne observational data were collected from three aircraft platforms: the NASA DC-8, ER-2, and SPEC LearJet.  Both the NASA DC-8 and ER-2 aircraft were instrumented for comprehensive in-situ and remote sensing measurements of the trace gas, aerosol properties, and cloud properties.  In addition, radiative fluxes and meteorological parameters were also recorded.  The NASA DC-8 was mostly responsible for tropospheric sampling, while the NASA ER-2 was operating in the lower stratospheric regime.  The SPEC LearJet was dedicated to in-situ cloud characterizations.  To accomplish the science objectives, the flight plans were designed to investigate the influence of biomass burning and pollution, their temporal evolution, and ultimately, impacts on meteorological processes which can, in turn, feedback on regional air quality. With respect to meteorological feedbacks, the opportunity to examine the impact of polluting aerosols on cloud properties and dynamics was of particular interest. 

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