Point Reyes National Seashore is Site for National Climate Research Project
Contact: Dr. Ben Becker, 415-464-5247
Contact: Dr. Sarah Allen, 415-464-5187
Between March and September 2005, marine stratus clouds and coastal drizzle are the subject of a national climate research project at Point Reyes National Seashore in western Marin County, California. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program are conducting the research and have chosen Point Reyes because it is known for its marine location and tremendous stratus development.
Marine stratus clouds are some of the most prevalent clouds on earth. They exert a large-scale cooling effect on the ocean surface, representing an important component of the earth’s total energy budget. Marine stratus clouds are known to be susceptible to the aerosol byproducts of fossil fuel consumption, but a thorough understanding of the cloud processes leading to this susceptibility requires that they be observed in a range of aerosol conditions. Despite their known importance to the earth-ocean-atmosphere system, relatively few detailed and comprehensive data sets of marine stratus clouds are available. This work will help to understand impacts of fossil fuel consumption on cloud cover and climatic change.
During the 6-month deployment, the ARM Mobile Facility will use state-of-the-art active and passive remote sensors to measure the detailed microphysical structure of drizzle patches and the associated clouds as they move onshore. This includes daily releases of weather balloons to record atmospheric data at various altitudes. The work is based in the north district of Point Reyes National Seashore.
Point Reyes National Seashore was chosen for this work because of its support for scientific research endeavors. Other regions where ARM facilities collect atmospheric data include the Great Plains Region of the United States, the North Slope of Alaska, and the Tropical Western Pacific. The ARM Program greatly appreciates the cooperation of the National Park Service during this field campaign.
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