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Measuring precipitation in the Arctic

19 Feb 2019, 09:01 UTC
Measuring precipitation in the Arctic
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Measuring precipitation remotely is still a challenge, but yet important to understand Earth processes. For example, snowfall is crucial for the water cycle and an important component of the climate system, particularly in high latitudes.
To shed new light on precipitation in the Arctic and to explore a possible new measuring technique that could be used from space, scientists travelled to Iqaluit in Canada to carry out a radar snow experiment. The basic idea was to use multiple airborne sensors simultaneously, to disentangle the components of complex cloud and precipitation processes.
A team from the National Research Council (NRC) and Environmental Climate Change Canada (ECCC) spent several months preparing before the start of the campaign in November 2018. Iqaluit is home to one of ECCC’s Arctic Weather Science supersites, which is equipped with an extensive array of in-situ and remote-sensing sensors.
Aircraft in Hanagr in Ottawain being prepared for the campaign. (ESA)
The scientists used a Convair 580 aircraft equipped with a range of sensors, including several radars and lidars. While flying, these instruments could be used to measure cloud particles and precipitation by monitoring how radar and lidar pulses bounced off ice crystals and water droplets.
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