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Image Narration | North Pacific Storm

Listen as Steve Wofsy, Principal Investigator for the HIPPO project, explains what is going on in the image of a storm forming in the north Pacific Basin.

This image shows one of the major places in the atmosphere where storms are generated in the north part of the Pacific Ocean during the winter time. What you’re seeing there is a major storm that’s being generated right before your eyes.

Those little arrows are showing you which way the wind is blowing and how fast. The little tails on the arrows, at the back-end of the arrows, so you can see across the middle of the figure that the wind is blowing air from the tropics coming around in a big circle, in a vortex, and being wrapped around the cold air coming from the north and forming a major storm.

These storms are very important for the weather of the continent that we live on, North America, and they’re also very important for moving the greenhouse gases around in the atmosphere. So when our airplane passed through this part of the Pacific Ocean we saw some very dramatic reorganization and redistribution of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Northern Storms


HIPPO is a landmark study for many reasons, not the least of which is it is the first time scientists have systematically mapped global distribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, covering the full troposphere in all seasons and multiple years.

  • HIPPO I :: 8 January-30 January 2009
  • HIPPO II :: 31 October-22 November 2009
  • HIPPO III :: 24 March-16 April 2010
  • HIPPO IV :: 14 June-11 July 2011
  • HIPPO V :: 9 August-9 September 2011