About HIPPO

The HIPPO (HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations) study of the carbon cycle and greenhouse gases measured meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, and aerosol constituents along transects from approximately pole-to-pole over the Pacific Ocean. HIPPO flew hundreds of vertical profiles from the ocean/ice surface to as high as the tropopause, at five times during different seasons over a three year period from 2009-2011. HIPPO provides the first high-resolution vertically-resolved global survey of a comprehensive suite of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols pertinent to understanding the carbon cycle and challenging global climate models. HIPPO was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

UCAR HIPPO Project Web Site: (http://hippo.ucar.edu/)

HIPPO In Depth:

HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) was an NSF- and NOAA-funded, multi-year global airborne research project to survey the latitudinal and vertical distribution of greenhouse and related gases, and aerosols.

HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) was an NSF- and NOAA-funded, multi-year global airborne research project to survey the latitudinal and vertical distribution of greenhouse and related gases, and aerosols. Project scientists and support staff flew five month-long missions over the Pacific Basin on the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V, High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) aircraft between January 2009 and September 2011, spread throughout the annual cycle, from the surface to 14 km in altitude, and from 87°N to 67°S.

The landmark study resulted in an extensive, highly detailed dataset of over 90 atmospheric species, from six categories, all with navigation and atmospheric structure data, including greenhouse gases and carbon cycle gases; ozone and water vapor; black carbon and aerosols; ozone-depleting substances and their replacements; light hydrocarbons and PAN; and sulfur gases/ocean-derived gases. A suite of specialized instruments on the aircraft made high-rate measurements as the plane flew, while several whole air samplers collected flasks of air for later analysis in laboratories around the U.S. Flights were conducted in a continuously profiling mode, with the aircraft alternately climbing or descending as it flew from its home base in Broomfield, Colorado north to Alaska and the Arctic, south down the middle of the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand and the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, and then back to the Arctic a second time before returning home. In all, the aircraft made 64 flights and flew 787 vertical profiles while covering 285,000 km. Instruments collected 434 hours of high-rate continuous measurements and 4,235 flask samples were collected during the five HIPPO missions.

Data from the HIPPO study of greenhouse gases and aerosols are now available to the atmospheric research community and the public. This comprehensive dataset provides the first high-resolution vertically resolved measurements of over 90 unique atmospheric species from nearly pole-to-pole over the Pacific Ocean across all seasons. The suite of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols is pertinent to understanding the carbon cycle and challenging global climate models. This dataset will provide opportunities for research across a broad spectrum of Earth sciences, including those analyzing the evolution in time and space of the greenhouse gases that affect global climate.

“The field efforts were highly successful, and these unique measurements are providing key insights into the global carbon cycle and aspects of the climate system,” says Britt Stephens (NCAR), one of the project’s principal investigators. “These highly detailed cross sections are analogous to tomographic images that reveal the inner workings of the atmosphere and the underlying surface”, said Prof. Steven Wofsy (Harvard University), the lead principal investigator. “For many years our team had dreamed of a data set of this kind, and we are delighted that the measurements have now been made and are available to the whole scientific community.”

Two websites, created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Earth Observing Laboratory, and U.S. Department of Energy, CDIAC (the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center), debuted on 30 November 2012 to serve those interested in acquiring HIPPO data and documentation. See the bottom of this announcement for more details.