Construction begins on new US center for airborne weather research

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The US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is enhancing its aviation research facilities with a new US$22m construction project.

Construction begins this month on a state-of-the-art aviation research facility at the NCAR site at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, Colorado.

The new building, which will replace an existing structure and is expected to be completed later this year “will enhance NCAR’s capacity to serve as a nerve center for major airborne field projects across the United States and around the globe,” said Anjuli Bamzai, director of atmospheric and geospace sciences at the US National Sciences Foundation (NSF), which provides funding for NCAR.

The new 42,391ft2 (3938m2) facility will be double in size to the previous building, which dated from the 1970s. The larger dimensions will mean expanded lab space for calibrating scientific instruments.

It will also be used to host field campaign planning, briefings, logistics decisions and real-time participation in field projects, and will support field projects led by NCAR and other US universities. Two NCAR-operated research aircraft, a Gulfstream V and C-130, will be managed from the site.

According to NCAR, its previous airborne field campaigns have led to major insights into severe storms and the impact of greenhouse gases on Earth’s climate system. Upcoming campaigns will look at the formation of ice particles in clouds over Colorado as well as a study of the Asian summer monsoon.

“The field campaigns supported by this facility will advance the frontier of knowledge about the Earth system in ways that we can only begin to imagine,” said UCAR president Antonio Busalacchi. “This new facility will provide a major return on investment and yield lasting societal benefits.”

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