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Mission News September 30, 2020

On the final stretch of the summer campaign, we executed 5 more flights (Research Flights 36-40) between 9/21 – 9/30. There were a number of highlights during these flights including continued sampling of western U.S. wildfire plumes, a CALIPSO underflight (9/23), and a “process study” flight on 9/29.
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Mission Highlights
Our Mission

NASA’s Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) project is a five-year project (January 2019 – December 2023) that will provide important globally-relevant data about changes in marine boundary layer cloud systems, atmospheric aerosols, and multiple feedbacks that warm or cool the climate. Marine boundary layer clouds play a critical role in Earth’s energy balance and water cycle.

ACTIVATE will study the atmosphere over the western North Atlantic Ocean and sample its broad range of aerosol, cloud, and meteorological conditions using joint flights with two aircraft based at NASA’s Langley Research Center. As an integral part of ACTIVATE, a suite of modeling tools and analysis techniques will be employed to inform preflight planning, perform data analysis, and climate model uncertainty quantification and improvement.

September 30, 2020

On the final stretch of the summer campaign, we executed 5 more flights (Research Flights 36-40) between 9/21 – 9/30. There were a number of highlights during these flights including continued sampling of western U.S. wildfire plumes, a CALIPSO underflight (9/23), and a “process study” flight on 9/29. The process study comprised a deep analysis of a cloudy area involving multiple stacked legs and soundings with the Falcon and a “wheel and spoke” pattern directly above with the King Air. Of note in these last flights were the remarkable gradients in cloud droplet number concentrations, and not just between flights but also within a given flight. One of the major goals of ACTIVATE is to explain these gradients with the large suite of data being collected. The weather in the last week was especially challenging to plan flights around, but with careful planning and real-time decision making in flight, the aircraft probed areas free of strong convection and with the types of low clouds we desired. Now there will be a break until our third campaign, which will be in wintertime of 2021. Until then....data analysis!