weather is expected as well as where and when it is most likely within a risk area. The probability outlook graphics and discussion are available on the SPC Web Oil Disasters by Lightning site: http://www. spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook. Researcher s Trace Evolving Pacific Air The great oil fires near San Luis Obispo and Chemistr y Brea early in April, and at Bakersfield, Califor- Spring has arrived in Hong Kong and so have re- nia, late in the month were set by lightning. At search planes, scientists, and a lot of equipment. By Bakersfield there was such a downpour of rain studying the seasonal airflow from Asia across the that the protecting embankments about the oil Pacific Ocean, National Aeronautics and Space Ad- tanks were gullied through and ministration (NASA) scientists believe it is an ideal th e whole district made so time to collect information used to study how natural muddy that automobiles and and human-induced changes affect our global climate. men could not get at the fire. The Transport and Chemical Evolution over the This does not sound like the Pacific (TRACE-P) experiment will use two specially right kind of weather for Cali- equipped NASA aircraft to measure gases and iden- fornia, and, indeed, it is seldom tify the chemical makeup of air off the East Asian coast experience d in this severity. over the Pacific. According to Alexander, thun- The TRACE-P mission, headed by NASA's Lan- derstorms occurred in April at San Luis Obispo gley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, started its to the number of only three in 20 years, and at 45-day operations in March from Hong Kong and fin- Fresno (the nearest Weather Bureau station to ishes at Yokota Air Force Base near Tokyo. Bakersfield) 16 times. This April there were 5 In addition to a DC-8 from NASA' s Dry de n Flight to 10 times the average number. The first ones Research Center in Edwards, California, and a P-3B came with two intense cyclones. The wetness of from NASA' s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Is- the ground thereafter provided the atmosphere land, Virginia, satellites and ground stations will play with abundant vapor, and local thunderstorms a role, as scientists gather information to plan flight followed. Late in the month there was a particu- patterns and interpret measurements taken on the larly hot spell, the temperatures in Fresno run- aircraft. ning 90°F or over for five consecutive days, and "While NASA administers the TRACE-P program, once reaching 98°F. Cold air aloft under such it is important to realize all of the expertise that is nec- conditions produces the great overturnings that essary to make the measurements on these aircraft," make thunderstorms. said Jim Crawford, Trace-P deputy mission scientist The property loss of upwards of 20 million and Langley researcher. "We have to bring together dollars in these fires establishes a new record for researchers from international universities, other lightning damage to structures. A study by Co- government labs, and from within NASA to make vert of lightning fire damage in the United States an adequate assessment of what is happening over for 1915-1922 reveals the fact that the losses the Pacific." from these lightning fires in California in April, A major goal of TRACE-P is to understand the 1926, were double the average annual loss for chemical makeup and reactions of air coming from th e entire United States. It appears that Asia. Researchers want to study how the chemical re- California's losses by lightning during the past actions and movement affect the air as it moves away ten or a dozen years now exceed those of Illinois from Asia across the Pacific. With rapid industrializa- and Texas, combined, heretofore the top- tion and increased energy use, mostly in the form of notchers. fossil fuel, scientists expect emissions to increase as East Asia continues to develop. "Out of all the industrialized regions in the world, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 7, 78. North America and Europe are at a much higher lati- tude," Crawford added. "And since air chemistry is driven by sunlight, the Asian emissions happening at Vol. 82,, No. 5, May 2001
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: May 1, 2001
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