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NASA Tropospheric Chemistry Integrated Data Ceneter

About GTE

Rationale The research challenges of an international Global Tropospheric Chemistry Program (GTCP) demand a broadly-based program. The resources required are distributed among several federal agencies, scores of universities, and a variety of scientific disciplines--including atmospheric science, biology, land processes, and oceanography. It was already clear in 1984 that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would play a leading role in such a program. Some GTCP objectives require large-scale field studies and the most advanced instrumentation. NASA brings together unique research facilities, strength in atmospheric science, technical expertise, and management skills needed to address the challenges of the GTCP. The Global Tropospheric Experiment (GTE) utilizes large, extensively instrumented aircraft as primary research tools. However, GTE also draws heavily upon satellite observations of meteorology, land use, and atmospheric chemical species to aid in experiment design and in the scientific analyses of results obtained from aircraft and ground-based measurements. The GTE, managed through the Tropospheric Chemistry Program in the Earth Science Enterprise, at NASA Headquarters, was initiated in the early 1980s. Implementation of the GTE Project is via a Project Office in the Atmospheric Sciences Competency at the NASA Langley Research Center.

A National Commitment In 1984, the National Academy of Sciences recommended initiation of a Global Tropospheric Chemistry Program (GTCP) in recognition of the central role of tropospheric chemistry in global change. Envisioned as the US national component of an international research effort, the GTCP entails the systematic study, supported by numerical modeling, of (1) biological sources of atmospheric chemicals; (2) global distributions and long-range transport of chemical species; and (3) reactions in the troposphere that lead to the conversion, redistribution, and removal of atmospheric chemicals. The GTCP is currently part of a comprehensive international research effort coordinated through the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Programme (IGAC), which is a core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). NASA's contribution to the GTCP is the Global Tropospheric Experiment (GTE)

Implementation Strategy GTE is primarily an aircraft-based program supplemented by ground-based measurements and satellite observations. The space shuttle observations of tropospheric carbon monoxide distribution by the MAPS instrument, for example, were important in the planning of expeditions over tropical rain forests (the GTE ABLE-2 mission), and the satellite observations of enhanced concentrations of ozone over the tropical Atlantic ocean were the focus of a major international study in Brazil and southern Africa (the GTE TRACE-A mission). Landsat surface images have also facilitated the extrapolation of regional arctic-tundra measurements into global-scale conclusions (the ABLE-3 mission), and weather data returned by environmental satellites have guided flight planning for research aircraft. Global observations from space will ultimately be the technique of choice for mapping the distributions of reactive, spatially variable chemical species. Aircraft experiments will in the future provide "ground truth" for satellite measurements and explore in detail the processes responsible for the observed distributions. GTE has already demonstrated the value of both approaches, although space observations are at present very sparse. In the future, instruments aboard polar-orbiting satellites of the Earth Observing System (EOS) will greatly expand the range of measurements available from space. Supported by the complementary techniques and measurements pioneered by GTE, a new generation of satellite instruments can gather the data required for a definitive understanding of global tropospheric change. Understanding the chemical processes in the troposphere on a global scale is critical if we are to predict, and potentially ameliorate, harmful man-made changes to the global environment. Guidance for the GTE field studies has come from ad hoc planning meetings, initiated in July 1984, and convened by the Manager of the Tropospheric Chemistry Program. Emerging from this first planning meeting was a recommended long range plan for a series of field studies to be conducted through the NASA Tropospheric Chemistry Program, and coordinated with other national and international studies. The recommended field measurements included studies of the tropical forest, Arctic tundra, instrument intercomparisons, global distributions, and long-range transport. Since the initial 1984 meeting, four other planning meetings have been convened to review and update this long range plan. The recommendations from these meetings have resulted in field studies of the Amazon Rain Forest and the northern latitude tundra (e.g. Atmospheric Boundary Layer Experiments, ABLE-2 and ABLE-3), evaluation of instrumentation for measurements of odd nitrogen and sulfur species (e.g. Chemical Instrument Test and Evaluation, CITE -1, -2 and -3), measurements over the tropical Atlantic (e.g. Transport and Atmospheric Chemistry near the Equator- Atlantic, TRACE-A), and a series of studies over the Pacific ocean(e.g. Pacific Exploratory Mission, PEM-West phases A and B and PEM-Tropics).

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space
Curator: Ali Aknan
NASA Official: Dr. Gao Chen

Last Updated 06/20/2014
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