NASA and university scientists will be studying the intense summer thunderstorms over the central United States to understand their effects on Earth’s atmosphere and how it contributes to climate change.

ER-2 N809NA DCOTSS Science Flight

As part of NASA’s Earth Science Division, the Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere, or DCOTSS, project will be flying out of Salina, Kansas during the summers of 2021 and 2022. The project will directly study the convective impacts of thunderstorms over North America.

The DCOTSS mission aims to understand how dynamic and chemical processes interact to determine the composition of the stratosphere, and how that composition may change in response to ongoing changes in the climate system.

After a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DCOTSS science flights are set to launch on July 16. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center’s ER-2 aircraft will fly as high as 70,000 feet to collect atmospheric chemistry samples to better understand material transported to the stratosphere by convective storms. Referred to as overshooting storms, rising air, particles and chemicals in these intense thunderstorms can be carried high above the lowest layer of the atmosphere into the stratosphere, which most thunderstorms do not usually reach.

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