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BAE Systems Research Aircraft In Climate Change Mission Over Tropical Rain Forest


Farnborough, UK – A BAE Systems research aircraft is making a major contribution to a better understanding of how equatorial rain forests influence climate change.

The BAe 146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) is on a month long mission to Sabah, Malaysia where it is undertaking much-needed research to determine exactly how emissions from the vegetation in a pristine protected rain forest impact upon the concentration of ozone and methane - gases that are both central to climate.

The results of this mission will be used to compare and challenge existing scientific models that are used by climate change specialists and will better inform legislators as to future climate change predictions.

The scientific mission consists of a team drawn from seven UK universities and the Natural Environment Research Council laboratory – many of which are world-leading researchers in the fields of biosphere-atmospheric interactions and atmospheric chemistry. It is working alongside the Malaysian Meteorological Department and internationally-recognised research leaders from the US and Europe.

During the mission the BAE Systems aircraft is being flown at heights ranging from tree-top level up to 8km high. Its suite of on-board sophisticated equipment measures the photochemical composition of reactive trace gases and particles across this height range and is used to compare results with the Malaysian Meteorological Department’s 100 metre high Global Atmospheric Watch Station located in the forest at Bukit Atur, Sabah.

Owned by BAE Systems and converted into one of the foremost atmospheric research aircraft in the world, the 146 ARA is a vital tool in the study of weather patterns, climate change and global warming, flying some 500 science hours a year.

It is operated by Directflight of the UK under subcontract to BAE Systems while the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) manages the scientific tasking on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Met Office.

NERC and the Met Office task the aircraft largely on the basis of bids made by Universities or specialist departments of the Met Office, and arrange the funding. FAAM implements the programme, arranging with BAE Systems Regional Aircraft to install new or different equipment as demanded by each mission.
In addition to approving and engineering the role-change equipment required for the OP3 and all other missions, BAE Systems also is heavily involved with the scientific community in working out how to install ground-breaking new instrumentation on to the aircraft. The next instrument to be fitted, on return from the Malaysian mission, will be a Buck Hygrometer for measuring atmospheric dew and frost points.


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