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A three-year series of research flights from the Arctic to the Antarctic has successfully produced an unprecedented portrait of greenhouse gases and particles in the atmosphere.

The far-reaching field project, known as HIPPO, ends this week, and has enabled researchers to generate the first detailed mapping of the global distribution of gases and particles that affect Earth’s climate.

HIPPO, which stands for HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations, has brought together scientists from organizations across the nation, including the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Harvard University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Miami and Princeton University.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which is NCAR’s sponsor, and NOAA are funding the project.

The HIPPO campaign relies on the capabilities of a specially equipped Gulfstream V aircraft, owned by NSF and operated by NCAR in Boulder, Colo.

The research jet, known as the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), has a range of about 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers).

It is outfitted with a suite of specially designed instruments to sample a broad range of atmospheric constituents.

“This has been the most ambitious project to date for the NSF Gulfstream V aircraft, or HIAPER,” says Anne-Marie Schmoltner, NSF program director for atmospheric chemistry, which funded HIPPO. “It has produced an unprecedented wealth of data on greenhouse gases and black carbon particles throughout the atmosphere.”

National Science Foundation