First research flight to study huge Asian monsoon aerosol cloud

The effect of aerosols on climate is one of major uncertainties in understanding climate change. During summer, the Asian monsoon carries large amounts of air and pollutants up to an altitude of 17 kilometers which reaches into the stratosphere.  Satellite images show a thin cloud of aerosols directly above the monsoon-affected region that stretches across southern Asia from the Arabian peninsula to the east coast of China. This huge aerosol cloud consists of small droplets and dust particles, and in the stratosphere this cloud spreads around the world and persists for years. An international team of scientists has just initiated an investigation of the Asian aerosol cloud above Nepal with a high altitude research aircraft. The Russian M55 Geophysica research aircraft took off for its first measurement flight of the Asian stratosphere on 27 July 2017.  This is the first of nine research flights that will take place in this region until mid-August. This objective of the flights is to study the composition of the air that reaches the tropopause region and the stratosphere, 12 to 20 kilometers above the monsoon.  Measurements will also be made using high altitude research balloons launched from Nepal, Bangladesh, China, India and Palau. German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR)