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Greenlit: Cloud Lab, BBC2

Cloud Lab w/t  – A team of scientists is taking to the skies in the world’s largest airship – the Skyship 600 – for one of television’s most ambitious experiments on the atmosphere.

Flying from coast to coast, across the USA, in a month-long expedition, the team of British scientists will scrutinise insect life, the relationship between life and weather, as well as how hurricanes form.

The team, which includes an entomologist, meteorologist and professional explorer, is also hoping to shed light on the creation of clouds and the relationship between diverse ecosystems and weather. Their journey can be followed in real-time on twitter – @BBCCloudLab.

The airship is a unique platform for exploring the atmosphere. It can maintain a stationary position, so the team is able to watch weather phenomena develop, and then manoeuvre to get the best vantage point. It flies slowly and is exceptionally stable, making it the ideal base from which to conduct scientific experiments.

Skimming the ocean’s surface and drifting with the wind allows the team to explore the physics that control the creation and destruction of cumulus cloud as well as using the Cloud Lab’s sophisticated technology to examine a growing cloud’s internal anatomy.

Through sampling different types of air, from sea, and desert to city, while simultaneously measuring cloud cover, the team will attempt to understand what types of air produce the most cloud.

During the trip, the entomologist will use the airship as a sampling platform to produce a unique survey of the insect life that lives above the USA. Bats will also be filmed using a range of technology, revealing how they have learned to exploit these insect superhighways.

Other experiments include researching the role of plants in maintaining the balance of the atmosphere through measuring the amount of oxygen produced by a forest. The team will also be looking into the causes of wildfires – the recent spate of which have claimed so many lives.

Channel: BBC2

Producer: BBC

TX: 2014

Source: BBC press release

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