Joining Forces to Solve Atmospheric Problems

The need for additional detailed meteorological observations, particularly in the Tropics, spurred the international community to propose a massive multinational effort to gather and evaluate weather data. Organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), planning began in the 1960s with a target year of 1974 for the Global Atmospheric Research Project (GARP). According to the GARP proposal, "The entire atmosphere of the Earth and the sea surface will be observed in detail for the first time."

The plan included monitoring the weather with ships, planes, automated buoys, weather balloons, and satellites, and then using computers

The First Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Global Experiment (FGGE), some of the planning for which is depicted here, studied the global atmospheric circulation and related weather systems. (© University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

The First Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Global Experiment (FGGE), some of the planning for which is depicted here, studied the global atmospheric circulation and related weather systems. (© University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

100 times more powerful than those that were then in use to process the data. Meteorologists focused their research on the Tropics. Not only was the area poorly understood, it also received the greatest percentage of solar radiation, which was then transported throughout the atmosphere. Meteorologists wanted to understand this energy transport mechanism so their computer models could produce accurate forecasts two weeks in advance.

The first set of tropical experiments was the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE). Concentrating their efforts on tropical thunderstorms found in a band extending from Brazil to Africa and covering 20 million square miles (51.8 km ), 70 nations deployed 40 ships and 12 specially instrumented aircraft to examine how these large thunderstorms were related to the origin and development of hurricanes. In addition to the tropical storm studies, the GATE scientists examined the weather mechanisms that seemed to be playing a role in the Sahel drought.

The First Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Global Experiment (FGGE) in 1978-1979 gathered atmospheric information from a variety of sensors. (NOAA Central Library)

FIRST GARP GLOBAL EXPERIMENT CONCEPT

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