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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 9:28 EDT

T-REX Experiment

August 7, 2009

HIAPER was used during the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) field project. The purpose of T-REX was to study a severe type of atmospheric turbulence–called rotors–that forms near mountains in the California Sierra Nevada range, posing a threat to planes flying in the vicinity. Rotors, which form on the lee side of high, steep mountains, have contributed to a number of aircraft accidents, but scientists know little about their structure and evolution. They are common in the Sierras because the area has the steepest topography in the continental United States.

The project included scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the Desert Research Institute and other institutions, and was supported by the National Science Foundation. To learn more about the T-REX project, see the NSF Discovery story, “New NSF Aircraft to Probe Hazardous Atmospheric Whirlwinds.”

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Image1 : HIAPER (for High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for
Environmental Research), a modified Gulfstream V jet owned by the
National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the National Center
for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. HIAPER is capable of
reaching an altitude of 51,000 feet and cruising for 7,000 miles.

Image 2: Landscape near the town of Independence, Calif., where the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) project took place. The purpose T-REX was to study a severe type of atmospheric turbulence–called rotors–that forms near mountains in the California Sierra Nevada range, posing a threat to planes flying in the vicinity. Rotors, which form on the lee side of high, steep mountains, have contributed to a number of aircraft accidents, but scientists know little about their structure and evolution. They are common in the Sierras because the area has the steepest topography in the continental United States.

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T-REX Experiment