The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric
Science (RSMAS) is adding to its fleet of specialized research
vessels with its latest acquisition - a helicopter equipped with
state-of-the-art technology that converts a commercial aircraft into a
flying scientific laboratory.
This one-of-a-kind Helicopter Observation Platform (HOP) will allow
scientists to obtain vital information on environmental processes and
mechanisms that affect our climate and impact human health.
"HOP will support the research missions University of Miami (UM)
scientists and a host of other research institutions around the world by
improving our understanding of the Earth's environment - in particular
the Earth's surface, whether marine or continental, and the thin
atmospheric boundary layer above it, where much of the action for the
climate system is taking place," says Dr. Roni Avissar, Dean of UM's
Rosenstiel School and experienced helicopter pilot.
"This is a major advance for UM's recently launched Exploration Science
program whose mission is to broaden interest in field-based scientific
research," says Dr. Kenny Broad, Director of UM's Leonard and Jayne
Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and Chair of Marine
Affairs and Policy at RSMAS. He and Avissar will lead this project and
will serve as HOP pilots during scientific missions and expeditions.
The novel aircraft, which is based on a commercial Airbus Helicopter
AS350B3e, is being transformed to include advanced technology for
studying key physical, chemical and biological processes near the
"No other aircraft offers the flexibility of a helicopter, in terms of
payload, maneuverability and safety. HOP will uniquely fill an important
gap in research airborne observations," says Avissar.
HOP will also facilitate new observations of seasonal events, including
Saharan dust storms. The dust, swept up by strong winds in Africa,
travels thousands of miles across the Atlantic carrying microbes and
fine airborne particles that affect air quality. The dust particles also
have an impact on marine ecosystems, the climate and hurricane formation.
The new aircraft will complement an array of cutting-edge research
resources at RSMAS, including the F.G.
Walton Smith, an advanced research catamaran designed for tropical
oceanography; the Center
for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) a
real-time, high-resolution satellite imagery facility; and the new
(SUrge-STructure-Atmosphere INteraction) research facility that will
open for research and education in Spring 2014. Currently under final
construction steps, the facility will be the only place in the world
with a wind-wave-storm surge simulator capable of generating Category 5
hurricane-force winds in a 3D test environment.
RSMAS has been involved in the engineering, building and testing process
of the technological innovations made to the helicopter. Procurement of
the Airbus Helicopter was funded by the Batchelor Foundation, which
provided nearly half of its acquisition cost through a challenge grant.
The G. Unger Vetlessen Foundation and an anonymous donor contributed a
significant portion of the matching funds.
Established in 1990, the Batchelor Foundation supports numerous
programs, organizations and projects benefiting the environment,
including research and education programs and those focused on animals,
wildlife and natural resources.
The G. Unger Vetlessen Foundation voluntarily aids and contributes to
religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes
throughout the world.
About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School The
University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the
southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide
quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the
faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University
initiatives. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine &
Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and
atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary
academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to
better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of
environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and
quality of life. For more information, please visit http://www.rsmas.miami.edu.
About Momentum2 Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the
University of Miami seeks to advance learning, elevate scholarship, and
make bold strides in health care in the community, across the country,
and around the world. Momentum2 comes on the heels of the institution's
record-breaking Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami,
which concluded at the end of 2007 and raised more than $1.4 billion for
endowed chairs and professorships, scholarships, facilities, academic
and medical programs, and other initiatives. www.miami.edu/momentum2.
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