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NASA to Study Incoming, Outgoing Arctic Light

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2014 — A new NASA mission will examine Arctic sea ice loss and cloud formation in part by measuring incoming solar and outgoing IR radiation.

Called Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE), the airborne campaign is meant help determine the degree of climate warming.

Low-level clouds typically reflect more sunlight and offset warming, according to NASA, while higher clouds are typically less reflective and trap more heat in the atmosphere.

“The clouds and surface conditions over the Arctic as we observe them from satellites are very complex,” said Bill Smith, ARISE principal investigator at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “We need more information to understand how to better interpret the satellite measurements, and an aircraft can help with that.”

Using NASA’s C-130 aircraft, the ARISE mission takes flight Aug. 28 from Thule Air Base in northern Greenland and will continue through Oct. 1, based out of Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska. This time covers the peak of summer sea ice melt.

Meanwhile, an orbiting satellite will use a laser-based photon-counting technique to measure of Earth’s height from space in order to track ice melt and growth in frozen regions. The ICESat-2 is set to launch in 2017.

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