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INTEX-NA Science Overview

INTEX-NA Introduction

A central component of NASA's grand vision in Earth Sciences is to understand how the Earth's atmosphere is changing and the consequences of this change. INTEX-NA is an integrated atmospheric field experiment consisting of two phases. Phase A will occur in the summer of 2004 over the central and eastern United States followed by Phase B in the spring of 2006 to occur on the west coast and out in the pacific region toward Asia. The INTEX-NA mission seeks to answer questions about the transport and transformation of gases and aerosols on transcontinental/intercontinental scales and their impact on air quality and climate. The main constituents of interest are ozone and precursors, aerosols and precursors, and the long-lived greenhouse gases. A particular focus of this study is to quantify and characterize the inflow and outflow of pollution over North America and its transformation during transport to distant continents.

During the summer of 2004, NASA's INTEX-NA activities will be coordinated with several national and international partners. Scientists from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and France will be working together to achieve these goals. The INTEX-NA objectives will be met using a combination of observations from surface, airborne, and space platforms.

INTEX-NA Mission Description & Science Objectives

Mission Description

The principal NASA platform for the summer 2004 INTEX-NA mission is the DC-8 with long range and high altitude capability. This platform will be equipped with a comprehensive suite of in-situ and remote sensing instrumentation to provide a comprehensive suite of chemical, physical, and optical measurements involving gases and aerosols.

Complementing the NASA DC-8 will be as many as 12 other aircraft that will be concurrently operated over North America and Atlantic. Additionally several satellites (Terra, Aqua, Aura, Envisat) will be making atmospheric chemistry measurements from space. Interaction with ongoing satellites measurement programs is an important goal of INTEX-NA. INTEX-NA objectives require the use of satellite data and will also under fly key satellite instruments to validate their results. These platforms have complementary capabilities and their operation will be coordinated to maximize overall scientific output. The NASA DC-8 will be operated from bases in California, Illinois, Missouri, and New Hampshire. Flights will pursue targeted objectives with optimized observational priorities.

Meteorological and chemical forecasts provided by a number of groups will be the principal means for flight planning. Output from a number of models with varying resolution and capabilities will be available for this purpose. These models will also play a critical role in post mission analysis of data.

Science Objectives

The principal science objectives of INTEX-NA are to:

  • Quantify the outflow of radiatively and chemically important trace gases and aerosols from North America to the Atlantic, and relate this outflow to our understanding of sources and sinks over North America and elsewhere;
  • Understand the transport and chemical evolution of the North American outflow over the Atlantic, and assess the impact and implications of the intercontinental transport of pollution on the global atmosphere and on regional air quality and climate;
  • Quantify the transpacific transport of Asian pollution to North America and its implications for air quality (Phase B).

INTEX-NA will also perform the following important supporting functions that address critical needs and greatly facilitate the achievement of its objectives:

  • Utilize INTEX-NA airborne platforms and observational strategy to validate key satellite observations (e. g. H2O, O3, NO2, HNO3, CO, CH4 and HCN) in the troposphere especially from the Aura and Envisat platforms.
  • Support the North American Carbon Program to quantify the North American carbon sink through direct observations of climatically relevant trace gases (e. g. CO2 and methane) and aerosols across North America and beyond.

Science Overview