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Submarine tracker base now looks to the skies to monitor air

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The Tudor Hill Marine Atmospheric Observatory (File photograph)

The site of a former US Navy base used to track Soviet submarines during the Cold War is now home to researchers who monitor air pollution and other atmospheric information.

The Tudor Hill Marine Atmospheric Observatory — at the former Tudor Hill Navy Base in Southampton — was used to collect information for two scientific papers published last year.

The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences said in its Currents newsletter that the observatory, supported by the US’s National Science Foundation, collects statistics on the chemical and physical state of the atmosphere.

The station records wind speed, air temperature and humidity, along with the levels of greenhouse gases, ozone and a range of aerosols — fine particles or droplets in the air.

The information collected was used last year for papers published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

The two papers, authored by researchers from the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Arizona, focused on aerosol interactions in the atmosphere.

Armin Sorooshian, a chemical and environmental engineer at the University of Arizona and the principal investigator on both studies, said: “The island of Bermuda has historically been a critically important location for atmospheric research since it serves as an excellent ‘marine laboratory’ with long-term data sets collected at surface measurement sites.

“Its location helps with studies of transported gas and particle emissions from distant continents.”

One team of researchers led by Hossein Dadashazar, a postdoctoral research associate, studied the impact of precipitation on aerosol particles in air masses as they travelled from the US East Coast to Bermuda.

The group used information from the observatory as part of their study, along with the BIOS-run Bermuda air-quality programme monitoring station at Fort Prospect in Devonshire.

The Tudor Hill Marine Atmospheric Observatory (File photograph)

The study found that aerosol concentrations reduced significantly when they encountered clouds and precipitation as they crossed the Atlantic.

The second published paper, written by graduate research assistant Abdulmonam Aldhaif, set out to create an “aerosol climatology” for the island by using several years of data to determine how aerosol levels change throughout the year around Bermuda.

The findings revealed that African dust regularly reaches Bermuda — particularly in the summer months — and that aerosol emissions from North America can reach the atmosphere around the island.

The BIOS newsletter said: “Aerosols are a particularly timely and relevant field of study, as they can have a major impact on global climate once they make their way skyward.

“They can scatter or absorb light, cooling or warming Earth’s atmosphere. The deposition of aerosols, such as black carbon, in the Arctic is changing the reflectivity of ice and causing it to melt faster.

“Finally, aerosols act as ‘seeds’ that promote the formation of dense, reflective, bright clouds that shade the planet’s surface.”

The Tudor Hill Navy Base, next to the Pompano Beach Club, was part of the Sound Surveillance System — Sosus — a deep-sea network of listening posts designed to track the movements of Soviet submarines in the Atlantic.

The site began to be used to collect information on chemicals in the atmosphere in the mid-1970s.

A research tower was built in 1998 as part of the Atmosphere-Ocean Chemistry Experiment, an international long-term study of the atmospheric transport of aerosols and gases in the North Atlantic region.

The US Navy base closed in 1992 after 37 years but collection of scientific information continued.

BIOS has operated the Tudor Hill Marine Atmospheric Observatory as a site for research activities carried out by BIOS and visiting US and international scientists since 2003.

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Published February 02, 2022 at 10:57 am (Updated February 02, 2022 at 10:57 am)

Submarine tracker base now looks to the skies to monitor air

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