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NOAA launches major field campaign to improve weather and climate prediction

Jan 07, 2020
On January 7, NOAA launched a six-week scientific campaign from the island of Barbados in the Caribbean, using multiple human-piloted and autonomous vehicles, buoys, radar and computer modeling to investigate how the ocean, atmospher, and shallow clouds work together to create the weather and climate we live in. Called ATOMIC, or the Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign, the mission is the U.S. component of a collaborative effort that includes Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States and Barbados called EUREC⁴A (Elucidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in Climate). ATOMIC will involve experts from three NOAA Research labs, NOAA pilots and crew, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, several universities and other partners to address this complex problem. From January 7 through February 13, 2020, the research team will travel east and south of Barbados to take measurements of different variables in the air and the sea. By studying the region in the winter, the researchers can observe the ocean, air and clouds in near isolation from the impacts of storms and hurricanes. This will help them acquire a better understanding of how the ocean makes shallow clouds, and how these clouds, the basic building blocks for storms, affect larger weather and climate patterns. To measure all of these processes simultaneously, scientists will use instruments aboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, NOAA WP-3D Orion aircraft (N43RF), several autonomous vehicles, as well as ocean surface floats.