A BAE Systems Regional Aircraft regional jet is flying over Asia to improve understanding of how equatorial rain forests influence climate change. The BAe 146 atmospheric research aircraft (146ARA) is being used at Kota Kinabalu in a four-week operation supporting academic research into the way emissions from vegetation effect concentrations of ozone and methane. Researchers will check results against current scientific models with an eye toward enhancing climate-change predictions.
The 146ARA, which began life as the first 146-100 and was subsequently used in 146-300 development, flies at heights ranging from “tree-top level” up to 26,000 feet. Scientists from UK universities and research agencies use on-board equipment to measure the photochemical composition of reactive trace gases and particles for comparison with data gathered at the Malaysian Meteorological Department’s 330 ft-high global atmospheric watch station in the forest at Bukit Atur, Sabah.
BAeRA said the 146ARA flies some 500 hours a year on scientific research work. British operator Directflight flies the aircraft under a contract to the manufacturer.
Britain’s natural environment research council and the UK Meteorological Office (UKMO) task the aircraft, mainly in response to university or UKMO bids. Research programs are implemented by the UK Facility for airborne atmospheric measurements, which arranges with BAeRA to install mission-specific equipment. For example, upon return from Malaysia later this month, the 146ARA will be fitted with a Buck hygrometer to measure atmospheric dew and frost points.