Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) Returns to Operations for Summer 2021 Deployment

June 7, 2021, 8 a.m.


In May of 2021, the Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) returned to operations for a summer 2021 deployment. This deployment is part of a 5-year project (2019-2023, with the campaign portion from 2020-2022) to investigate the atmospheric impacts of marine boundary layer clouds. Marine boundary layer clouds cover over 45% of the Earth’s ocean surface and exert a net cooling effect; thus, these clouds play a critical role in the Earth’s energy balance and water cycle. ACTIVATE seeks to improve the basic understanding of aerosol-cloud-meteorology interactions, which in-turn will enrich knowledge of atmospheric composition, Earth’s water and energy cycle, climate variability and change, and weather. ACTIVATE is a broad collaborative project, led by scientists from University of Arizona and NASA Langley Research Center, including participants from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the National Institute of Aerospace,  Brookhaven National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Miami,  and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The ACTIVATE deployment is based out of NASA Langley Research Center with the primary sampling region being over the Western North Atlantic Ocean.  Two aircraft, the King Air and Falcon, are used in a coordinated remote sensing and in-situ sampling strategy.

The summer 2021 deployment is the fourth ACTIVATE deployment thus far. Two winter deployments were conducted in 2020 and 2021, and one summer deployment was conducted in 2020. In total, there have been over 110 research flights throughout the previous three deployments with a total of nearly 400 flight hours. The summer deployment sampling conditions can be characterized by high aerosol loading and a shift in meteorological regime, including more frequent shallow cumulus clouds.  In addition, nine of the research flights have been conducted as satellite underflights in coordination with the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) aboard the Terra satellite and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite.  The data from these underflights will be used to validate and improve the satellite observations.

The ASDC provides all currently available publication-quality data for the first two deployments of ACTIVATE (specifically, the deployments which were conducted in winter and summer 2020). The data products from the winter and summer 2021 deployments will become available beginning late Fall 2021.  To date, ACTIVATE researchers have generated 21 peer-reviewed publications. To better promote the new observational data and the data-enabled science to the broad community, the ACTIVATE team just published a news article entitled "Taking Flight to Study Clouds and Climate" on the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Eos website.

More information about ACTIVATE can be obtained from the ASDC’s Data in Action: “Advancing Aerosol-Cloud-Meteorology Knowledge through ACTIVATE.” This resource includes information about ACTIVATE’s scientific backgrounds and objectives, instruments/platforms used, major events, major findings, and related publications. The ACTIVATE website provides up-to-date news and information about the field campaign, and will include details for those interested in the first open data workshop planning for some time in October 2021.

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