International climate scientists meeting

International climate scientists from New Zealand, the United States, Europe, Japan and the United Kingdom are meeting in Queenstown this week to discuss implementing a state-of-the-art global network to improve the quality of measurements of upper air climate variables.

It would be the first time the Global Climate Observing System Reference Upper Air Network (Gruan) would allow scientists to get the highest possible quality measurement of the variables, which would increase the accuracy of estimates of how changes in the global climate could be attributed to human activities, natural factors or a combination of both.

The monitoring network was made up of 15 sites across the world, from Alaska to New Zealand.

The Niwa atmospheric and climate research facility at Lauder would be the only Gruan station monitoring from the middle latitudes of the southern hemisphere.

At each site climate variables such as temperature, water vapour, pressure, wind speed, wind direction and ozone levels would be recorded using sensor packages carried by balloon about 30km above the Earth.

Other ground-based remote measurements would include laser radar measurements, sensing of aerosols, solar radiation and cloud parameters.

Niwa atmospheric processes group manager Paul Johnston said the Gruan monitoring would fill an important gap in international climate research and complement atmospheric observations Niwa was already researching.

"Niwa is already collecting vertical profile measurements of ozone, water vapour, temperature and pressure in the upper atmosphere so it's a natural fit to join in with the rest of the international climate research community on this important project.

"Changes in climate variables such as temperature and water vapour in the upper atmosphere provide a fingerprint of changes in climate, which gives us very important information for improving our predictions of future climate change."

More than 30 scientists are attending the Queenstown meeting, which finishes today.

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