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New Data Could Improve Climate Models

Horizon Spirit

The Horizon Spirit makes the round trip between Los Angeles and Hawaii every two weeks

Meteorological and atmospheric instruments installed by scientists from Brookhaven’s Environmental Sciences Department and Argonne National Laboratories aboard the Horizon Lines container ship Spirit recently began taking data for a yearlong mission aimed at improving the representation of clouds in climate models. 

After four years of preparation, the collaborative effort between the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program Climate Research Facility and Horizon Lines marks the first official marine deployment of an ARM Mobile Facility. 

The project - dubbed MAGIC for the Marine ARM GPCI Investigation of Clouds, where GPCI is a project comparing results from the major climate models - will take place through September 2013 and is likely the most elaborate climate study ever mounted aboard a commercial vessel. The Spirit makes the round trip between Los Angeles and Hawaii every two weeks which will allow data to be collected on a wide range of atmospheric conditions over an entire year. A better understanding of the transitions among cloud types along the ship’s route and the factors that influence these transitions will help to refine and validate models of Earth’s climate. 

The science team, which in addition to Brookhaven and Argonne, includes researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA, Stony Brook University, and a range of other universities and private consultants, is anxiously anticipating the data which will enhance the understanding of clouds, aerosols, Earth’s energy and water balance, and the interactions among the marine environment.

2012-3497  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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