NATURE recently released an article on the Airbus Perlan Mission II , “Glider Aims to Break World record — and Boost Climate Science” by Declan Butler.
Dr. Elizabeth Austin, of WeatherExtreme Ltd. discussed the glider and the scientific instruments used for climate, aerospace and stratospheric research.
The glider will carry instruments to measure levels of aerosols and greenhouse gases, including ozone, methane and water vapour, and will gather information on the exchange of gases and energy between the two lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere: the troposphere and the stratosphere. Those data, to be collected this year and next, could improve climate models, which account poorly for these atmospheric interactions and contain “horrific” uncertainties about the levels and behaviour of water vapour at stratospheric altitudes, Austin says.
The article discusses the goal of the Airbus Perlan Mission II to break the world altitude record for gliding and focuses on the science behind the glider. Its aim is to fly higher than any other piloted aircraft using stratospheric mountain waves as seen in the image below.
Lastly, the article touch base on a brief history of the original Perlan Project, it’s upcoming flight in El Calafate, Argentina, and the future goals for Airbus Perlan 2 in 2017.
Airbus says that many of the weather phenomena Perlan 2 will encounter will provide useful information for it and other aircraft makers that are contemplating operating aeroplanes at higher altitudes.
Once Perlan is fully tested, says Austin, she hopes to get funding to use the glider as a long-term scientific platform that would examine how hourly, seasonal or even decadal changes in the stratosphere affect weather and climate.