Washington, US: NASA scientists are using aircraft to carry instruments aloft in an attempt to unlock the mystery of why some clouds produce huge amounts of rain. In addition to aircraft, the mission will use comprehensive observations of rainfall in the US by spacecraft, remote sensing and ground sensors. The mission will be run from the Department of Energy’s Southern Great Plains site in central Oklahoma, US.
Convective clouds form when warm and moist air rise and condense at higher altitudes. They are the focus of current scientific mission that runs through June. “Because precipitation is so critical to our daily existence, we naturally would like to know how much rain falls at any given place and time,” said Walt Petersen, who is leading NASA’s component of the campaign. “Our goal is to observe and measure the entire precipitation process, from the ice that forms near the tops of clouds to the rainfall that ends up on the ground.”
“Convective cloud processes play a critical role in our daily lives,” said Michael Jensen, the meteorologist leading the DOE element of the project. “To represent these cloud systems in computer models of the atmosphere, we need to understand the details of why these clouds form, where they form, how they grow and shrink, and what factors control the amount of rain that falls from them.”