New NOAA Climate Observatory in Russia Closes Gap in Arctic Research

April 19, 2007

The NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory will expand its Arctic observation with the addition of a new location in Tiksi, Russia, joining five existing laboratories placed internationally along the Arctic rim. It will be an important component of the NOAA Arctic Atmospheric Observatory Program, closing a significant gap in vital Arctic atmospheric research. Construction of the climate observatory will begin this summer.

Located in north-central Siberia, near the newly completed Tiksi weather station, the NOAA Atmospheric Observatory will take its place in a constellation of observing stations currently operating in Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States. Improving observations in the Arctic enables the international science community to form a more complete understanding of influence of the Polar Regions over the Earth's oceans, atmosphere and ecosystems.

Credit: NOAA

The NOAA Atmospheric Observatory program is establishing long-term, intensive measurements of clouds, radiation, aerosols, surface energy fluxes and chemistry in Eureka/Alert Canada and Tiksi, Russia. These measurements will allow comparison with similar observatory measurements in Barrow, Alaska and other international sites. These sites in combination encompass 3 different major Arctic climate regimes. Their locations and instrumentation has been carefully designed so that the collected data can be used to determine the mechanisms that drive climate change through a combination of process studies, satellite validation and modeling work.

"Observations are vital to our understanding of the Earth's systems, and our current observations of the Arctic are revealing its importance to the health of the planet's atmosphere and oceans," said retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. "More complete coverage of observations and in situ research will allow scientists to develop better models of how Polar Regions ultimately influence our oceans, atmosphere and ecosystems."

This new observation station is an example of increasing international cooperation in Earth observation around the world. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS, NOAA is working with its federal partners, the Russian Federation and with more than 60 other countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Credit: NOAA

The newly completed Tiksi weather station.

The Tiksi lab was formed through a partnership with the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring (Roshydromet), National Science Foundation and NOAA. It will support the research needs of the international science community to provide data from intensive measurements of atmospheric conditions from the Earth's surface to the upper levels of the atmosphere.

"The Tiksi laboratory is intended to support the research needs of the international community; across disciplines," said Alexander MacDonald, director, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory. "The development of the facility is an excellent example of cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and will help to strengthen international collaboration in science, recognizing the importance of addressing environmental issues of common concern."

Information from the Tiksi research laboratory will provide scientists with a better understanding of the rates and processes of Arctic climate change, including the retreat of sea ice and permafrost. Tiksi was chosen for its geographically favorable atmospheric conditions consisting of very clean and clear air, which will provide the greatest possible measurements of solar radiation, aerosols, air chemistry, trace gases, cloud properties, water vapor, ozone, temperatures, winds and stratospheric properties.

Credit: NOAA

Proposed site of the climate observatory.

The Polar Regions are areas of significant polar land and ice mass in the northern hemisphere Arctic and southern hemisphere Antarctic. These regions are vital to scientific research, providing a more complete picture of how they interact with the atmosphere, oceans and other land masses around the globe. This year marks the beginning of the fourth International Polar Year (2007-2009). Initiated 126 years ago, the IPY encourages scientists from around the world to participate in a rare event that provides the international scientific community an opportunity to share research, data and global planning for future generations.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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