Earth Expedition: Spiraling Above Canada to Measure Carbon

  • Released Thursday, August 10th, 2017
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:47PM

High above Alaska and Canada, researchers from NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) are studying carbon emissions from a DC-8 plane. The plane carries new lidar instruments to measure concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in the air, far below the aircraft. The plane also carries instruments that can measure carbon concentrations with extreme accuracy, but only from up-close.

To check the accuracy of the lidar measurements, the team needs to fly the plane down to the lower altitudes the lidar is studying. Taking measurements at every altitude is no easy feat. The plane flies in looping spirals down to just about 100 feet above the ground, and then spirals back up to about 30,000 feet, taking measurements the whole time.



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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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