Brian Dunbar Headquarters, Washington, D.C. November 12, 1991 (Phone: 202/453-1547) Jean W.

Clough Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. (Phone: 804/864-6122) Craig E. Murden Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. (Phone: 804/864-3296) RELEASE: 91-187 LATEST NASA CLIMATE STUDY PROBES CLOUDS AS KEY TO GLOBAL WARMING The feathery wisps of cirrus clouds are NASA's latest target in the agency's accelerating efforts to understand the global climate and predict its future patterns. In mid-November, atmospheric scientists from NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., will lead researchers from several agencies to Coffeyville, Kan., where ground, airborne and satellite measurement platforms will collaborate for 25 days of intensive cirrus cloud investigation. The role of these clouds, which form at the top of the troposphere 8 miles up, is of major importance in predicting climate. In addition to controlling the amount of heat escaping from the Earth's atmosphere, they have the potential to be a vital feedback mechanism if increases in carbon dioxide lead to global temperature changes. Scientists generally believe that changes in global temperatures will lead to changes in global cloud cover that are currently unpredictable. Such cloud-cover changes themselves would contribute to further

climate change. For example, a 4 percent increase in global cirrus clouds brings about the same increase in global temperature that a doubling of carbon dioxide would cause. If scientists can translate these effects to predictive computer models, the cirrus/carbon dioxide relationship can be applied worldwide as a continuing barometer of the planet's climate changes. Studying the role of clouds is the highest scientific priority of the U. S. Global Change Research Program, which involves many federal agencies conducting research in seven areas of global change. - more -2Scientists from NASA and five other government agencies will be joined at Coffeyville by a cadre of skilled computer modelers. While cirrus measurements were made in 1986, this is the first occasion when real-time measurement data will flow into a field analysis center where atmospheric researchers and modelers will be running experiments. Modelers will have direct input into how the data is compiled and ultimately used. End data products will cover a wide range of spatial scales from the large-scale imagery of satellites to the microscale measurements of cloud droplets. Broad temporal scales, from the monthly averages of cloud properties to the millisecond measurements of atmospheric turbulence, also will characterize the scope of the venture. The Kansas effort is known as FIRE (First ISCCP Regional Experiment; ISCCP is the International Cloud Climatology Project). FIRE is under the overall program management of Dr. Tim Suttles, Office of Space Science and Applications, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Langley's David S. McDougal is the FIRE project manager and the project scientist is Dr. Patrick Minnis, also of Langley. Coffeyville, 120 miles southeast of Wichita, was chosen because it is the locus of a new state-of-the-art network of sensors installed by the National Weather Service to measure horizontal and vertical winds throughout the atmosphere in the central United States. - end -