Flying laboratory measures pollution

Monday, Mar 18, 2013

Mark Zondlo, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and a team of researchers are mapping Earth's atmosphere from pole to pole in search of the most comprehensive picture yet of greenhouse gases and how they affect climate.

The team travels in a superfast research aircraft that includes a new laser-based sensor invented by Zondlo's team to measure water vapor throughout the atmosphere.

"In discussions about global warming, carbon dioxide and methane get all of the attention, but water vapor impacts climate more than any other gas," Zondlo said.

The plane, known as Hiaper, is a flying laboratory that collects data while zigzagging up and down through the atmosphere as it flies from the Arctic to Antarctica as part of a National Science Foundation project called Hiaper Pole to Pole Observations or HIPPO. The cloud footage in this video was taken from aboard Hiaper.