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Team uses ships, planes and radio controlled aircraft to gather data

NOAA Ship Ronald H. BrownSeptember 4, 2001 — One hundred international scientists will board ships and planes today to examine how the clouds, rain and cool water temperatures of the Eastern Pacific affect the climate in the southwestern United States and parts of Central and South America.

Sponsored by NOAA and the National Science Foundation, the Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes in the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere System or EPIC departs San Diego on September 5 and ends in Arica, Chile about October 25.

"This project is one of President George W. Bush's climate-change initiatives and promotes scientific cooperation among the United States, Mexico and South America," said David L. Evans, assistant administrator for NOAA Research. "This research will provide information that will be used to improve climate models and forecasting, which will benefit the residents in those regions by giving advance warning of drought or flood conditions."

"The Eastern Pacific region has a strong influence on our weather and climate as well as that of our neighbors to the South," said Anjuli Bamzai, program director in NSF's division of atmospheric sciences, which funds the research. "Yet our most sophisticated climate models do not do well at simulating and predicting conditions in this region. EPIC will allow us to learn more about the coupled ocean atmosphere processes that regulate weather and climate in the Eastern Pacific in order to improve predictions."

Three research ships will be used—NOAA's Ronald H. Brown; the New Horizon, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego; and El Puma, from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico. One of NOAA's P-3 aircraft and NSFs C-130 research aircraft will also collect data.

Researchers will also use six robotic aircraft, known as aerosondes, to gather data about temperature, pressure, humidity and wind. The pilotless airplanes have a wingspan of about nine feet, weigh about 30 pounds and will be deployed near Cristobel Island in the Galapagos.

Two members of NOAA's Teacher at Sea program will be actively participating in EPIC data collection. Jennifer Richards, a science teacher at Guajome Park Academy in Vista, Calif., will be on the first leg of the experiment onboard the Ronald H. Brown from San Diego to Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Jane Temoshok, a science lab teacher at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy in Alexandria, Va., will take over in Santa Cruz and stay onboard the Brown until the project ends in Arica, Chile. The teachers will keep daily logs that schoolchildren can access on the Internet as well as develop lesson plans for other teachers to use.

A group of scientists from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico will study how clouds and aerosols—particles in the air—interact. Other scientists on the cruise represent the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oregon State University and the University of Miami. The National Council on Science and Technology in Mexico is an EPIC sponsor. There also is cooperation from Ecuador's National Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology. Other participants include the Chilean Navy Hydrographic Office; the University of Concepcion, Chile; and the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization of Australia.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites

NOAA Teacher at Sea

NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

NOAA Research

NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory

Media Contacts:
Jana Goldman, (301) 713-2483 ext. 181 or Barbara McGehan (303) 497-6288 in NOAA Research