Thus, the campaign will help to close an important gap in climate research knowledge, which was identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the second part of its latest assessment report.
Manfred Wendisch summarises the goal of HALO-(AC)3 as follows: “Predicting the future of the Arctic climate remains a challenge. We want to carry out an extensive flight campaign – HALO-(AC)3 – that uses innovative observation methods to help reduce major uncertainties in the projection of future climate development in the Arctic.”
Coordinated measuring flights with three research aircraft
Three German research aircraft will be used to perform measurements for HALO-(AC)3. The first is HALO (High-Altitude and Long-Range Research Aircraft), a modern research aircraft operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). “HALO will operate at higher altitudes as a remote sensing platform, as it is capable of covering distances of up to 10,000 kilometres at altitudes of up to 15 kilometres,” explains Andreas Minikin of the DLR Flight Experiments facility. Meanwhile, in tandem with HALO, the Polar 5 and Polar 6 aircraft will conduct detailed measurements of the air masses at lower altitudes. The two polar aircraft have been used in the Arctic for more than 10 years under the direction of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). Covering distances of between 1500 and 2000 kilometres, they will complement HALO by conducting measurements at altitude ranges below six kilometres. Andreas Herber, an AWI researcher and the coordinator for Polar 5 and Polar 6, adds: “Although the polar aircraft have a shorter range, they have the major advantage of being able to fly ‘low and slow’, so they can capture snapshots of very specific processes taking place in, below and above clouds, and in the planetary boundary layer.”