Vladimir Putin on Climate Change

We need to take into consideration all the bombs Loree McBride is dropping! That is a LOT OF POLLUTION. I do think we need to be concerned, first and foremost, with Loree McBride’s space fleet dropping bombs filled with deadly germs on the population. THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER OF OUR TIMES.

CHECK OUT THE FEEDS OF ONE SKEPTIC SCIENTIST & NASA WHO REGULARLY PUBLISH REPORTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE TOWARDS THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.

I am uncertain how I feel about the claim made by scientists that emissions cause global warming. But I certainly feel that if we can make less pollution that is always a good thing, even if the pollution does not cause global warming. I also know that Jesuits have in the past put contaminants in gasoline to deliberately pollute the air to make their enemies sick. Our most urgent environmental hazard are Jesuits who willingly and knowingly pollute as a form of biological/chemical warfare! So, for this reason, I appreciate leaders who care about the environment, because they will probably have my passion to STOP LOREE MCBRIDE’S BOMBS! Trump seems to not care about this AT ALL.

Putin says climate change not caused by emissions: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-putin-climate-emissions.html

AND https://www.france24.com/en/20170331-russian-president-vladimir-putin-says-humans-not-responsible-climate-change

CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST WHO BELIEVES IN CLIMATE  CHANGE: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2015/July/Christians-Who-Believe-in-Climate-Change


CLIMATE SCIENTIST JUDITH CURRY’S FEED ON THE SUBJECT:

R-click on links to open up to a new page.

  • Why herd immunity to COVID-19 is reached much earlier than thought – update
    By Nic Lewis I showed in my May 10th article Why herd immunity to COVID-19 is reached much earlier than thought that inhomogeneity within a population in the susceptibility and in the social-connectivity related infectivity of individuals would reduce, in my … Continue reading →
  • Apocalypse Never and False Alarm
    by Judith Curry Two important new books to discuss. Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarm Hurts Us All, by Michael Schellenberger [amazon]   ‘Best Seller’ Schellenberger’s op-ed:  On Behalf of Environmentalists I Apologize For the Climate Scare [link]  originally published at Forbes, … Continue reading →
  • Cancel culture discussion thread
    by Judith Curry A change of topic. I’m running out of steam on COVID-19.  Still collecting articles, we’ll see if i do any more threads on that topic (of course I hope that Nic will have some new analyses for … Continue reading →
  • Covid discussion thread: Part X
    by Judith Curry Latest roundup of interesting articles.  I’m running out of steam on this topic, here are some random articles I’ve flagged over the last few weeks. New study in Spain addes evidence against herd immunity [link] Very good … Continue reading →
  • The progress of the COVID-19 epidemic in Sweden: an analysis
    By Nic Lewis The course of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden is of great interest, as it is one of very few advanced nations where no lockdown order that heavily restricted people’s movements and other basic freedoms was imposed. As … Continue reading →
  • Mass spectrometry and climate science. Part II
    by Roland Hirsch New technologies in mass spectrometry are advancing research in climate science This is the second of a two-part posting based on a presentation prepared for the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting in March 2020. The meeting was … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye the past 7(!) weeks. The future of the carbon cycle in a changing climate [link] Trends in weather ‘pleasantness’ [link] Misconceptions of global catastrophe [link] Over 15-30 years, internal variability … Continue reading →
  • Did lockdowns really save 3 million COVID-19 deaths, as Flaxman et al. claim?
    By Nic Lewis Key points about the recent Nature paper by Flaxman and other Imperial College modellers 1) The transition from rising to declining recorded COVID-19 deaths in the in 11 European countries that they studied imply that transmission of … Continue reading →
  • Structural errors in global climate models
    by Gerald Browning Climate model sensitivity to CO2 is heavily dependent on artificial parameterizations (e.g. clouds, convection) that are implemented in global climate models that utilize  the wrong atmospheric dynamical system and excessive dissipation. The peer reviewed manuscript entitled “The … Continue reading →
  • Mass spectrometry and climate science. Part I: Determining past climates
    by Roland Hirsch Mass spectrometry is essential for research in climate science. Understanding climate requires having sufficient knowledge about past climate and about the important factors that are influencing climate today, so that reliable models can be developed to predict … Continue reading →
  • Covid discussion thread: Part IX
    by Judith Curry Some interesting articles that I’ve spotted recently. This is really a fantastic manuscript on what we know today about #COVID19 biology and immunology. https://cell.com/immunity/pdf/S1074-7613(20)30183-7.pdf Fine COVID19 seroprevalence study in hard-hit Geneva finds peak at 10·8%. Also, for … Continue reading →
  • Dynamics of the Tropical Atmosphere and Oceans
    by Judith Curry Peter Webster’s magnum opus is now published: Dynamics of the Tropical Atmosphere and Oceans. From the blurb on amazon.com: “This book presents a unique and comprehensive view of the fundamental dynamical and thermodynamic principles underlying the large … Continue reading →
  • Covid discussion thread: Part VIII
    by Judith Curry Interesting papers that I’ve recently spotted COVID-19 can last for several months [link] At present, the evidence is pointing tentatively to a chain of person-to-person infections occurring somewhere outside a city before somebody brought the virus to … Continue reading →
  • When does government intervention make sense for COVID-19?
    By Nic Lewis Introduction I showed in my last article that inhomogeneity within a population in the susceptibility and infectivity of individuals would reduce the herd immunity threshold, in my view probably very substantially, and that evidence from Stockholm County … Continue reading →
  • COVID-19 discussion thread VII
    by Judith Curry Some interesting papers that I’ve spotted over the past week. New study from S. Korea finds HCQ +AZ (or other antibiotic) significantly reduces time to viral clearance and hospital stay in moderate covid-19 patients compared to both … Continue reading →
  • Culturally-determined response to climate change: Part III
    by Andy West Climate change affirmative responses to all survey questions are culturally determined, and across National Publics related to religiousity.  Cultural attitudes inappropriately push climate policy.  Introduction Post one of this series demonstrated a strong correlation across nations between … Continue reading →
  • Greening the planet and slouching towards Paris?
    by Patrick J. Michaels A new paper finds higher than expected CO2 fertilization inferred from leaf to global observations.  The paper predicts that the Earth is going to gain nearly three times as much green matter as was predicted by … Continue reading →
  • Why herd immunity to COVID-19 is reached much earlier than thought
    By Nic Lewis Introduction A study published in March by the COVID-19 Response Team from Imperial College (Ferguson20[1]) appears to have been largely responsible for driving government actions in the UK and, to a fair extent, in the US and … Continue reading →
  • COVID discussion thread VI
    by Judith Curry A roundup of interesting articles on COVID-19.   A new, experimental wearable device is capable of catching early signs and symptoms associated with the coronavirus. [link] Lets have an honest debate about herd immunity [link] 47 old … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – climate science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week — climate science & policy High climate sensitivity in CMIP6 model not supported by paleoclimate [link] “Impacts of landscape changes on local and regional climate: a systematic … Continue reading →
  • COVID discussion thread V
    by Judith Curry A round up of recent interesting articles The coronavirus pandemic is steeped in uncertainty, confusion, shifting information, and muddled messages. Here’s a guide to cutting through it all, from @edyong209  [link] Tests in recovered patients found false … Continue reading →
  • Apparent Paradoxes in the relationship of Climate ‘Concerns, Skepticism, Activism, and Priority’, explained by Religiosity
    by Andy West Explores the contrast between Allied and Core belief in the culture of climate catastrophe, and the relationships of these plus religiosity to Climate Change Activism (XR and Children’s Strikes for Climate). Post 2 of 3. Introduction The … Continue reading →
  • A sensible COVID-19 exit strategy for the UK
    By Nic Lewis The current approach A study by the COVID-19 Response Team from Imperial College (Ferguson et al. 2020[i]) appears to be largely responsible for driving UK government policy actions. The lockdown imposed in the UK appears, unsurprisingly, to … Continue reading →
  • COVID discussion thread IV
    by Judith Curry My latest roundup of articles NY:  first results from a statewide antibody study: 14% [link] A leaked Chinese study finds no benefit from anti-viral remdesivir in treating COVID-19 patients. https://reason.com/2020/04/23/leaked-study-finds-no-benefit-from-antiviral-remdesivir-in-treating-covid-19/… South Korean patients who test positive for … Continue reading →
  • Can religiosity predict cultural climate beliefs?
    by Andy West Probing the relationship between religiosity globally, and cultural beliefs in the narrative of imminent / certain global climate catastrophe: Post 1 of 3. Introduction The main narrative of catastrophic climate-change culture (CCCC) contradicts mainstream (and skeptical) science. … Continue reading →
  • In favor of epistemic trespassing
    by Judith Curry On the importance of expertise from other fields for COVD19 and climate change. This post is motivated by a tweet from Steve McIntyre, with comment from Ken Rice: Here is the link to Annan’s post Dumb and … Continue reading →
  • CoV Discussion Thread III
    By Judith Curry My latest selection of interesting articles. We need a COVID-19 vaccine–let’s get it right the first time [link] Fauci once dismissed concerns of ‘silent carriers’ [link] Don’t believe the COVID models – that’s not what they’ for … Continue reading →
  • Sunday fun: personality testing
    by Judith Curry And now for something different. A sociological experiment for the Denizens. Please take the Enneagram personality test (with instinctual variant) and report your results in a comment. I scored a strong 1 (reformer).  Hard to argue with … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – climate science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye these past few weeks. New research verifies that sea level rise is causing #carbon burial rates to increase on some Florida coasts. [link] Rare ozone hole opens in the Arctic … Continue reading →
  • Imperial College UK COVID-19 numbers don’t seem to add up
    By Nic Lewis Introduction and summary A study published two weeks ago by the COVID-19 Response Team from Imperial College (Ferguson20[1]) appears to be largely responsible for driving UK government policy actions. The study is not peer reviewed; indeed, it … Continue reading →
  • CoV discussion thread II
    by Judith Curry Time for a new thread. To kick things off, here are some interesting articles that I’ve spotted recently. Let me know when you are read for a climate thread, week in review or something. Its time to … Continue reading →
  • COVID-19: Updated data implies that UK modelling hugely overestimates the expected death rates from infection
    By Nic Lewis Introduction There has been much media coverage about the danger to life posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. While it is clearly a serious threat, one should consider whether the best evidence supports the current degree of … Continue reading →
  • CoV discussion thread
    by Judith Curry Some articles I’ve flagged, plus emails I’ve received. Here are some articles I’ve flagged for discussion; I am not personally endorsing anything here: Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance NYT:  Harsh Steps Are Needed to Stop the … Continue reading →
  • Coronavirus uncertainty
    by Judith Curry My thoughts on coronavirus and deep uncertainty. I and my family are in isolation, in relatively comfortable, well-stocked and in safe circumstances (solar power with Tesla power wall).   My community (Reno NV) has relatively few cases and … Continue reading →
  • Coronavirus technical thread
    by Judith Curry A thread devoted to technical topics, e.g. epidemiology, immunology, treatments.  A more general thread will be coming shortly.
  • Coronavirus discussion thread
    by Judith Curry Discuss.
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week. Rates of sea level rise along the N. American E. Coast have decelerated in recent decades (5 of 6). SLR rates were “only slightly lower” in the … Continue reading →
  • Australian fires: Climate ‘truth bomb’?
    by Alan Longhurst Recipe for Australia’s climate ‘truth bomb’:  dubious manipulations of the historical temperature record, ignorance of the climate dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere, and ignorance of Australia’s ecological and social history. A correspondent of The Guardian newspaper writes … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week. On the climate sensitivity and historical warming evolurion in recent coupled model ensembles [link] Greenland’s largest glacier (Jakobshavn) has rapidly thickened since 2016. Thickening has been so … Continue reading →
  • Plausible scenarios for climate change: 2020-2050
    by Judith Curry A range of scenarios for global mean surface temperature change between 2020 and 2050, derived using a semi-empirical approach. All three modes of natural climate variability – volcanoes, solar and internal variability – are expected to act … Continue reading →
  • Inconsistency between historical and future CMIP5 simulations
    by Kenneth Fritsch Identification of significant differences between the historical and future CMIP5 simulations for intrinsic climate sensitivities. Introduction There are a number of climate science articles that refer to the potential for climate modelers to select from parameter variables … Continue reading →
  • Economic impact of energy consumption change caused by global warming
    by Peter Lang and Ken Gregory A new paper ‘Economic impact of energy consumption change caused by global warming’ finds global warming may be beneficial. In this blog post we reproduce the Abstract, Policy Implications and Conclusions and parts of … Continue reading →
  • Analysis of a carbon forecast gone wrong: the case of the IPCC FAR
    by Alberto Zaragoza Comendador The IPCC’s First Assessment Report (FAR) made forecasts or projections of future concentrations of carbon dioxide that turned out to be too high. From 1990 to 2018, the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations was about 25% … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week UK Met Office on the Australian fires [link] Attribution science and the Australian fires [link] Pielke Jr: The inconvenient facts on Australian bushfires [link] Another take on … Continue reading →
  • Explaining the Discrepancies Between Hausfather et al. (2019) and Lewis&Curry (2018)
    by Ross McKitrick Challenging the claim that a large set of climate model runs published since 1970’s are consistent with observations for the right reasons. Introduction Zeke Hausfather et al. (2019) (herein ZH19) examined a large set of climate model … Continue reading →
  • Climate sensitivity in light of the latest energy imbalance evidence
    by Frank Bosse Equilibrium climate sensitivity computed from the latest energy imbalance data. The Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) is a key issue for estimating climate sensitivity. If EEI is positive then the Earth’s climate system gains energy; if it’s negative … Continue reading →
  • Why the CO2 reduction pathways are too stringent
    by Jacques Hagoort Why the IPCC carbon budgets in SR1.5 are over conservative, and the CO2 reduction pathways are too stringent. Abstract Carbon Budgets specify the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted before global warming exceeds a certain … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week. Decadal changes of the reflected solar radiation and the Earth’s energy imbalance [link] Over the 2000–2018 period the Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) appears to have a downward … Continue reading →
  • 2020
    by Judith Curry Happy New Year! An end of year post.  Not that I have much to say at the moment, but I think we need a new thread. Here are a few ‘end of year’ articles, looking back and … Continue reading →
  • Two more degrees by 2100!
    by Vaughan Pratt An alternative perspective on 3 degrees C? This post was originally intended as a short comment questioning certain aspects of the methodology in JC’s post of December 23, “3 degrees C?”. But every methodology is bound to … Continue reading →

NASA GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS

R-click on links to open up to a new page.

  • Stunning Forecast: A Century of Ice Loss for Nearly 100,000 Glaciers
    The ice in one of the world’s highest concentrations of non-polar glaciers could see significant melting before the end of the century, potentially affecting sea levels around the globe, according to a new computer model from the NASA Sea Level Science Team. The region, known as High Mountain Asia, could see ice loss run from 29 to 67 percent, depending on the level of greenhouse gas emissions over the period modeled. According to the study, water flow in monsoon-fed river basins, driven largely by melting glaciers, could hit its peak by 2050 – potentially reducing runoff beyond that time and forcing changes in how water is consumed, or forcing communities to find other water sources. Understanding the coming changes in such flows is critical to proper planning for hydropower, irrigation, and water supplies. A Leap Forward in Glacier Modeling The new “Python Glacier Evolution Model,” or PyGEM, uses extensive data sets, instead of less detailed estimates from isolated, regional effects or extrapolations based on a small number of glaciers. “This is a huge advance compared to previous studies,” said David Rounce, a researcher at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and a member of the NASA Sea Level Science Team, who is lead author of the new modeling study. “We are able to assess changes in glacier mass and runoff at an unprecedented scale.” By sheer number, High Mountain Asia accounts for 44 percent of all the glaciers in the world—apart from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets—though it accounts for only a fraction of glacial mass. The melting of these glaciers over decades contributes significantly to rapid, and accelerating, global sea-level rise. As they grow in power and precision, computer models are revealing the intricate dance of climate, ice-melt, and sea-level rise with increasing clarity. The High Mountain Asia region, which could see substantial loss of glacial ice in the decades ahead, a new study shows. Image courtesy of David Rounce. The key to the sweeping new modeling method is its grounding in hard data. The science team studied changes to 95,536 glaciers from 2000-2018, as observed by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) aboard NASA's Terra satellite (Shean et al., 2020). The observations cover nearly every glacier in High Mountain Asia, which covers an area of 38,000-square-miles (98,000-square-kilometer), including those too small to be captured in previous studies. This allowed the team to estimate the decline in ice mass – the quantity of ice in terms of “weight,” or heft – for each glacier; reassembling these estimates into a regional mosaic yielded broad coverage of a vast glacial area as well as forecasts for smaller zones within it. “The models are certainly becoming a lot more powerful,” Rounce said. “Observations are starting to become available for almost every glacier, which is truly unprecedented when we consider that a decade ago, global glacier evolution models were relying on data from less than 300 glaciers.” Questions on Future Emissions Despite the model’s wide scope and high precision, its forecasting power is subject to the same limitation as previous projections: researchers don’t know whether emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases will increase, decrease, or stay the same in the decades to come. To account for this, the team used the standard practice of delivering a range of forecasts under scenarios, for higher, lower, and largely unchanged emissions. On the plus side, Rounce says, PyGEM is among the first models of its kind to be made available to the scientific community as an “open source” code – allowing any researcher to plug in data and run the model. To that end, Rounce spent weeks in Innsbruck, Austria, working with another researcher to make PyGEM compatible with the Open Global Glacier Model, another open-source model published last year. The new work also could help planners prepare for future sea-level rise. "Thyis is a super-exciting area of work because it will truly enable us to push the science forward as a community, as opposed to pushing things forward as a bunch of individual research groups," he said. Read the study, "Glacier Mass Change in High Mountain Asia Through 2100 Using the Open-Source Python Glacier Evolution Model (PyGEM)" This article was originally published on NASA's Sea Level Change Portal.
  • NASA-NOAA Satellite Sees Siberian Smoke Reach Alaska
    // I added jquery on ready here to fix bug that was preventing // the module from expanding beyond height:0 -JM $(function() { // load curtain modules within hidden sections when expand link is clicked $(".curtain_container:hidden").parents(".expandable_element").siblings(".expandable_element_link").on("click.curtain", function(){ $(this).siblings(".expandable_element").find(".curtain_container").twentytwenty(); $(this).off("click.curtain"); }); $(".curtain_container").imagesLoaded(function(){ $(".curtain_container").twentytwenty(); }); }); Siberian Smoke Reaches Alaska A NOAA/NASA satellite observed significant quantities of smoke and particulates from wildfires in Siberia in the atmosphere over Alaska on July 28, 2020. Credit: NOAA/NASA Full left image | Full right image This summer, Siberia has seen potentially record-breaking temperatures as high as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) as well as wildfires burning on a massive scale across the countryside. These fires are spewing significant smoke and particulates into the atmosphere, which have begun to make their way across the Bering Sea to the U.S. and Canada. A low-pressure system swirled these aerosols over Alaska last week, where they were spotted by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on NASA-NOAA’s Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite. A collaborative effort between NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NASA, Suomi-NPP is the technology demonstration satellite for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), the nation’s latest series of polar-orbiting environmental satellites. The first JPSS satellite, now called NOAA-20, launched in November 2017. Suomi-NPP and JPSS satellites produce data used for weather forecasting and environmental monitoring of events like wildfires, floods, hurricanes, severe storms and more across the U.S. and the world. “JPSS touches everyone through its data,” said Matt Ritsko, NOAA Business Branch Lead at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Extreme weather events have profound impacts everywhere; JPSS spacecraft are always on watch to provide the insights needed in our local communities, helping the world every day. The program’s new 'JPSS in Your Community' application tells the story of how people in local communities are part of a nationwide team to make JPSS possible.” For more information on benefits from the JPSS series of satellites and how the data are used in all 50 states and U.S. territories, visit https://www.jpss.noaa.gov/jpss-in-your-community.
  • New NASA Research Projects Probe COVID-19 Impacts
    The COVID-19 pandemic has touched most aspects of human life. In recent months, NASA has initiated research projects focused on how the human response to the pandemic has affected our environment, like how air quality has improved in the wake of reduced vehicular traffic in many places. But the tentacles of the pandemic extend well beyond that. How have production disruptions affected agriculture and food supply? What about our ability to forecast water availability in coming months? How do changes in activity levels affect environmental conditions? NASA's Earth Science Division recently selected three new projects that aim to answer these and other pandemic-related questions for Rapid Response and Novel Research (RRNES) awards. RRNES is funding quick-turnaround projects that make innovative use of the agency's resources and data to better understand regional-to-global environmental, economic, and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new projects join a growing list of RRNES research now underway. Food Supply Monitoring Shutdowns in response to COVID-19 left many farmers facing two distinct problems: labor shortages brought on by travel restrictions, and falling demand resulting from the closures of restaurants and schools. Realizing that their labor costs would exceed the value of their crops, some farmers decided to forgo harvesting them. The impacts don't stop there. The economic downturn and related unemployment put food security at risk for many people, especially in developing countries. Import and export restrictions, COVID-19 outbreaks in and around port cities, and other supply-chain disruptions have all added to uncertainty in agricultural markets. In order to monitor the development of crop conditions globally, these factors and others need to be taken into consideration. University of Maryland scientist and NASA Harvest data lead Michael Humber and his colleagues are working on a project that brings all of the relevant Earth science data together in one easy-to-access place. In line with the mission of NASA's food-security-focused program, NASA Harvest is striving to expand open access to agricultural data that can help inform food policy decisions. "Our goal is to provide an interactive web mapping tool that will show you, in just a few clicks, the international and national market situation and primary food-crop assessments supported with remote-sensing data," Humber said. "You would be able to combine these data with the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker data and the latest pandemic-related updates." The information available through the tool will provide policymakers, humanitarian organizations, and others with vital information needed to respond to supply disruptions and other challenges proactively and to make the best decisions for their respective communities. Preserving Water Supply Forecasts With Remote Sensing In the semiarid western U.S., farmers and water resource managers rely on water supply forecasts both to ensure there is enough water to meet demand and to make the most efficient use of the water available. The primary variable in these forecasts is what's called snow water equivalent, which is the amount of water contained in the snow that accumulates and compacts over the winter. In spring and summer, snowmelt becomes a significant freshwater source. Each month, surveyors take manual measurements of snow water equivalent at hundreds of monitoring stations across the region. But what happens when a global pandemic limits the surveyors' ability to travel and take these measurements? "As the pandemic evolved, we quickly discovered that the ground-based data that water resource managers have historically relied on for their decision making is potentially not going to be as readily available as it was in the past, because it requires people in trucks or in helicopters going out into the field to make these measurements," said University of Colorado scientist Noah Molotch. "Our project will leverage remotely-sensed snow data to fill these data gaps." In doing so, Molotch and his colleagues hope to minimize disruptions to the water supply forecasts on which so many water and agricultural professionals rely. Activity Mapping: Slowing Down and Speeding Up This preliminary map shows the slowdown of activity at Disneyland in California. Areas in blue indicate a reduction in vehicle concentration or movement as a result of COVID-19 pandemic response efforts. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/EOS at Nanyang Technological University Most governments responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing some form of shutdown; however, shutdown orders and their enforcement have varied extensively at local, national, and global levels. To determine what effects these reductions in activity have had on virus control and on the environment, we need to look at the global picture. Luckily, satellites make that possible. Scientist Sang-Ho Yun and his team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with researchers from the Earth Observatory of Singapore, are using satellite-derived synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data to map changes in activity levels in cities around the world. SAR data can show changes to Earth's surface over time. In this case, the scientists are looking at things like how the concentration and arrangement of cars in parking lots and on highways has changed from pre-pandemic patterns as well as changes to construction sites. "Using the SAR data, we'll be able to provide citywide maps that quantify the changes in activity, both the slowing down due to lockdowns and the gradual increase as governments decide to reopen," said Yun. "These maps will help us to better understand how activity reductions correspond to different cities' levels of success in controlling virus outbreaks, and how those reductions correspond to observed improvements in environmental conditions like air quality." Research from this project will also be incorporated into NASA's COVID-19 dashboard. NASA accepts proposals for new RRNES research on a rolling basis. News Media Contacts Ian J. O'Neill / Jane J. Lee Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-2649 / 818-354-0307 ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov / jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov
  • A Walk Through the Rainbow with PACE
    Why are there so many songs about rainbows? For NASA’s upcoming Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission, or PACE, the colors of the rainbow — or, if you prefer, the visible wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum — are the key to unlocking a wealth of new data on skies and seas around the world. PACE’s high-resolution instruments will see ocean and atmosphere features in unparalleled detail when the mission launches in 2023. By measuring the intensity of the color that exits Earth’s ocean surface, PACE will capture fine details about phytoplankton — tiny plantlike organisms and algae that live in the ocean — that are the basis of the marine food web and generate half of Earth’s oxygen. Beneficial phytoplankton communities fuel fisheries, but harmful algal blooms (HABs) can poison animals and humans and disrupt tourism and fishing industries. When it comes to “ocean color,” both the wavelength and intensity of the colors leaving the ocean are important. Different species of phytoplankton and other substances in a body of water absorb and reflect different colors of light: clear open ocean water appears blue, water with lots of phytoplankton often appears green or turquoise, and water near the coast looks brown due to suspended sediments and dissolved organic material. PACE can see small variations in these visible color differences in far more detail than ever before. As PACE spots all the colors of the rainbow over the ocean and atmosphere, it will provide scientists with new discoveries at every wavelength. In the Spring of 2020, the physical construction of the PACE spacecraft moved into high gear, with engineers working hard to build, assemble, and test the actual machine. When the global COVID-19 pandemic forced social distancing among the development teams, the challenge was how to keep making progress on this extremely important research initiative, even though most engineers and others involved with the mission's development could not actually work together in fabrication areas. It turns out that the extraordinary team bring PACE to life were not about to give up their goals, and in this video we hear from a range of NASA pros talk about how to keep going, keep standards high, and see their plans through even the most challenging of circumstances. Credit: NASA / Michael Starobin Ultraviolet and Violet Ultraviolet wavelengths (which are invisible to the human eye) and violet wavelengths (which are visible) help scientists learn about aerosols: particles in the atmosphere that may be organic or inorganic, solid or liquid, ranging from dust and soot to sea salt and chemical droplets. These wavelengths help reveal whether measured aerosols are natural or come from human activities. Ultraviolet and violet wavelengths will also help scientists study particles dissolved in the ocean — specifically, to distinguish between chlorophyll (a green pigment found in all phytoplankton) and other organic materials. Knowing the difference is important for studying how much carbon sinks and gets stored in the deep ocean. “Not all plankton do the same thing when it comes to carbon,” said Ivona Cetinić, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and PACE’s project science lead for biogeochemistry. “Some are better producers, some are better sequesterers who draw carbon dioxide down. Once the carbon enters the plankton, what happens later on depends on the type of plankton. If it’s teeny-tiny, there’s a big chance it will get eaten by a zooplankton – they are teeny-tiny cows, no? – which will get eaten by a bigger one, and so on. If those reactions happen close to the surface, the carbon comes back to the atmosphere. If the zooplankton poops, the carbon goes down into the deep ocean.” From diatoms to dinoflagellates, each phytoplankton species has its own identity: Different functions within the ecosystem, different nutritional needs (and content, for predators!), and importantly for the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI), different wavelengths of light that they absorb and scatter. Credit: NASA EOS Project Science Office / Sally Bensusen Blue Blue wavelengths help researchers differentiate between phytoplankton species. From diatoms to dinoflagellates, each phytoplankton species has its own identity: Different functions within the ecosystem, different nutritional needs (and content, for predators!), and importantly for the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI), different wavelengths of light that they absorb and scatter. Colors in the blue range of the spectrum will allow scientists to see the composition of phytoplankton communities. “If you’re looking at a meadow, it all looks green to your eyes, but you want to know all the players in that ecosystem,” said Cetinić. “It’s rare that you get just one type of plankton in a community; it’s much more likely that they’ll work together. They make up a microbial food web. PACE will allow us to resolve, not just one or two species, but the whole community.” Tracking phytoplankton community composition and health is not only important for understanding the ocean now, but also for predicting how it could change in the future. Dust and other aerosols can interact with clouds and ocean life, and PACE will measure aerosol characteristics to improve our understanding and models of these interactions. Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens Green Green wavelengths are often used as a reference for the total amount of particles in the air. These are combined with shorter and longer wavelengths to further determine the size of these particles. Size is an important factor in helping scientists know at what they are looking. Natural aerosols like dust or sea salt tend to have larger particles than human-produced ones like soot or smoke, so particle size helps identify aerosols’ sources. “There are several reasons it’s important to better understand aerosols,” said Andrew Sayer, an atmospheric scientist at NASA GSFC and PACE’s project science lead for atmospheres. “One reason is more useful air quality forecasts. Another is linked to climate: the cooling or warming effect aerosols have on climate, the way they interact with clouds and affect cloud lifetime, is dependent on the vertical distribution of all these features. We’ll be better able to monitor this from space. Satellite data can be used to interrogate the climate models more thoroughly and improve them.” Similarly, different phytoplankton species are different sizes, so this variable helps identify who is who in a plankton community. PACE's Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) will give scientists valuable information about phytoplankton species, community structure and health. Understanding phytoplankton health can help predict harmful algal blooms, or HABs, which can generate harmful toxins that sicken marine wildlife and humans and deplete oxygen in the water as bacteria feed on numerous dead algae. Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens & Lauren Dauphin Yellow and Orange The OCI’s yellow and orange wavelengths help scientists track phytoplankton health and physiology. Scientists can determine how healthy a phytoplankton community is by looking at how quickly the phytoplankton are growing, how efficient their photosynthesis is and what color they are – all information they can gather with yellow and orange wavelengths. Understanding phytoplankton health can help predict harmful algal blooms, or HABs. When substances from land wash into the ocean, they sometimes become a feast for algae, allowing them to eat, grow and multiply rapidly. HABs can generate harmful toxins that sicken marine wildlife and humans and deplete oxygen in the water as bacteria feed on numerous dead algae. “Harmful algal blooms are not recent. We have writings from indigenous tribes in the Pacific Northwest that talk about things happening on the beach,” said Cetinić. “It’s just that today we’re looking for it more, and also anthropogenic influences are making blooms more prevalent.” While naturally occurring minerals can run into the ocean and feed algae, chemicals produced by humans – lawn fertilizer, wastewater treatment chemicals and agricultural chemicals, for example – are a much greater culprit. “When any ecosystem is in balance, it’s never static. One thing is dominant, then it rolls over,” said Cetinić. “But when an ecosystem is pushed out of its rhythm, one thing becomes dominant. During a harmful algal bloom, just one species has the capability to grow really fast, and it takes over.” Coastal areas are often colored very differently than the open ocean. Variations in the colors reflected back from coastal areas not only give scientists clues to the health of the organisms that live there, which also helps them prepare for coastal HABs, but also inform on outflows from riverine systems and watershed dynamics. Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens & Norman Kuring Red and Near-Infrared Red and near-infrared wavelengths give the team a look into a different portion of the ocean: Coastal areas, with waters fed by rivers and shallower bottoms with sediments that can be suspended after a storm, are often colored very differently than the open ocean. Variations in the colors reflected back from coastal areas not only give scientists clues to the health of the organisms that live there, which also helps them prepare for coastal HABs, but also inform on outflows from riverine systems and watershed dynamics. “With PACE, we can see the early developmental stages of blooms and say what species it is,” said Cetinić. Early warnings allow businesses in coastal areas to prepare for HAB impacts, such as not harvesting or selling fish that consume the toxic algae, preparing veterinary offices for an influx of sick animals, aerating the water to prevent bottom-dwelling creatures from suffering lack of oxygen, and warning consumers not to eat sardines or oysters, she added. “Many of these kinds of early warning systems and measures are already in place in these coastal areas, so we’ll be adding our data to their systems,” Cetinić said. “Early information always saves money for local economies.” Ash from volcanic eruptions, like this 2020 eruption of Anak Krakatau, is one example of aerosols: Particles in the atmosphere that may be organic or inorganic, solid or liquid, ranging from dust and soot to sea salt and chemical droplets. PACE will measure characteristics of aerosols to better understand how they interact with ocean ecosystems, climate and phytoplankton. Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory / Lauren Dauphin Short-Wave Infrared Just outside the range of visible light are the short-wave infrared (SWIR) wavelengths, which have a number of uses for both the atmosphere and the ocean. SWIR wavelengths help scientists determine how clear the atmosphere is over the ocean, which is important for calculations of ocean properties at the surface. It also helps with similar calculations for the atmosphere over the coast, which helps with studies of clouds and coastal biology. “Clouds reflect sunlight, they trap heat and light,” Sayer said. “We need a very accurate understanding of their brightness and physical location.” By also monitoring how much sunlight gets blocked by aerosols, the OCI will help scientists resolve an important gap in modeling, said Sayer. Clouds and aerosols interact with each other in the atmosphere, but scientists need more information about how and where. “There are some seasonally repeating aerosol features where you often get aerosols above the clouds,” he said. “For example, in the southeast Atlantic, there’s a lot of agricultural biomass burning in central and southern Africa, which peaks in August to October. A lot of that blows off over the ocean, where there’s a low-lying cloud deck. It’s similar in southeast Asia. These aerosols make it harder to accurately determine cloud properties.” In the same way, clouds make it harder to study aerosols, he said. “If you’re a climate modeler trying to model the transport of aerosols around the world, there are large areas of the world where you’re getting limited amounts of useful data,” he explained. “With the OCI, having more spectral bands will really help fill some of those gaps. Having a hyperspectral instrument that goes into the ultraviolet range will make it much easier to quantify these aerosols, especially in combination with the polarimeters.”
  • NASA, CNES Space Laser Measures Massive Saharan Dust Plume
    Animation by NASA/Roman Kowch A space-based laser that measures clouds and small atmospheric particles called aerosols has provided a unique view of the massive Saharan dust plume that crossed the North Atlantic Ocean in June. The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite — a joint venture between NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) — observed the plume as it traveled across the ocean and eventually affected the mainland of the United States. Though long range Saharan dust events occur every summer, the unusually large quantity of dust remaining after this plume's trans-Atlantic voyage earned it the nickname “Godzilla.” The plume swept out from the west coast of Africa over the Atlantic Ocean on June 17, 2020. Within days it extended across the Atlantic, degrading air quality and lowering visibility in the Caribbean. It reached the southeastern United States on June 25, resulting in an air pollution event lasting several days that saw the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air quality index (AQI) reach orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) from the Florida panhandle all the way to Kansas. The animation above includes images and data from instruments on board the CALIPSO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-East satellites, which observed the event unfold in great detail on June 18 to 27. The animation visualizes true-color photographs from the GOES-East imager beneath vertical profiles of measurements acquired from CALIPSO's lidar several hours earlier. Together, they show the impressive extent of the dust plume across the ocean and into the atmosphere. “The thickness and quantity of dust observed by the CALIPSO lidar reaching the Caribbean was among the most substantial that I have seen in my personal experience watching CALIPSO observations of Saharan dust transport over the past decade,” said Jason Tackett, research physical scientist for CALIPSO at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The altitude of the plume measured by the CALIPSO lidar, an instrument adept at detecting dust, was impressive. At the beginning of the event, the lidar measured the plume top height at 6 to 7 kilometers (3.7 to 4.3 miles) just off the North African coast, which is higher than typical for these events. By the time it reached the Gulf of Mexico, the plume had descended, with tops around 3.5 to 4 kilometers (2.2 to 2.5 miles), reaching down to the surface. Ordinarily, Saharan dust outbreaks descend to lower altitudes before reaching the Caribbean. Dust from the Saharan desert is lofted into the atmosphere by winds over the continent and then transported across the Atlantic Ocean within the Saharan Air Layer, a layer of air that forms over the Sahara Desert and then frequently moves west across the Atlantic Ocean, typically during the late spring, summer, and early fall. The seasonal transport of dust within this warm, dry air mass has been shown to depress the formation of hurricanes and to provide vital nutrients to the Amazon rainforest. Atmospheric aerosols such as dust can also affect climate. Depending upon their shapes, sizes and composition, they can reflect sunlight back to space and cool the atmosphere. They can also absorb sunlight and warm the atmosphere. Overall, aerosols have a short-term cooling effect on Earth's climate. Satellite observations from CALIPSO, GOES-East, and other instruments provide critical information to track the vertical and horizontal transport of Saharan dust. Atmospheric scientists can then plug that data into their air quality models, which helps fine tune them and allows for better prediction of effects from these events.
  • Keeping a Steady Eye on Sea Level Change from Space
    Over the course of nearly three decades, an uninterrupted series of satellites has circled our planet, diligently measuring sea levels. The continuous record of ocean height that they've built has helped researchers reveal the inner workings of weather phenomena like El Niño and to forecast how much the ocean could encroach on coastlines around the world. Now, engineers and scientists are preparing two identical satellites to add to this legacy, extending the dataset another decade. Both spacecraft are a part of the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, a U.S.-European collaboration that aims to make some of the most accurate measurements of sea levels around the world. The first satellite to launch, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, will lift off in November. Its twin, Sentinel-6B, will launch in 2025. Both will assess sea levels by sending electromagnetic signals down to the ocean and measuring how long it takes for them to return to the spacecraft. "This mission will continue the invaluable work of accurately measuring sea surface height," said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth Science Division. "These measurements enable us to understand and predict sea level changes that will affect people living in coastal regions around the world." The satellite will build on efforts that began in 1992 with the launch of the TOPEX/Poseidon mission and that continued with three more missions over the years: Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, and Jason-3. Sentinel-6/Jason-CS aims to extend the nearly 30-year sea level dataset that these previous missions built by another 10 years. Measuring the height of the ocean gives scientists a real-time indication of how Earth's climate is changing, said Josh Willis, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The oceans absorb about 90% of the excess heat from the planet's warming climate. Seawater expands as it heats up, resulting in about a third of the modern-day global average sea level rise. Melting ice from land-based sources like glaciers and ice sheets accounts for the rest. This chart shows the rise in global average sea level from January 1993 to January 2020. The measurement is made using data collected by the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission's predecessors, the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, and Jason-3 satellite missions. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (view related vital sign) To understand how rising seas will affect humanity, researchers need to know how fast this is happening, said Willis. "Satellites are the most important tool to tell us this rate," he explained. "They're kind of a bellwether for this creeping global warming impact that's going to inundate coastlines around the world and affect hundreds of millions of people." Currently, sea levels rise an average of 0.13 inches (3.3 millimeters) per year, more than twice the rate at the start of the 20th century. "By 2050, we'll have a different coastline than we do today," said Willis. "As more and more people move to coastal regions, and coastal megacities continue to develop, the impact of sea level change will be more profound on those societies," said Craig Donlon, mission project scientist at the European Space Agency. Setting the Standard The information that Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich gathers will join a dataset that's become the gold standard for climate studies from space. This is because the chain of overlapping satellites that started with TOPEX/Poseidon has continuously measured ocean heights since the early 1990s. That continuity is key to this dataset's success. Some of the long-term datasets climate scientists rely on, like ocean temperature or the height of tides, have gaps or major changes in how data was collected (like before and after satellite records began) that make understanding the long-term climate signal challenging. Researchers must account for these variations to ensure that their results are truly representative of the phenomena they're looking at. The satellites that followed TOPEX/Poseidon — Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, and Jason-3 — flew in the same orbit as one another, each launching before the older one was decommissioned. When Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich lifts off later this year, it will orbit Earth 30 seconds behind the Jason-3 satellite, which launched in 2016. Scientists will then spend a year cross-calibrating the data collected by the two satellites to ensure the continuity of measurements from one mission to the next. Engineers and scientists will do the same cross-calibration with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich's twin in five years as its predecessor's mission winds down. Without these satellites and the data they've collected, researchers would have a much rougher understanding of the rate of sea level rise, as well as of phenomena like El Niño. This is a weather pattern triggered by a huge shift in the winds that normally blow from east to west across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. An El Niño can shift ocean currents and global weather patterns, bringing torrential rain to the Southwestern U.S. and triggering droughts in Asia and Australia. Its counterpart, La Niña, can have the opposite effect. One of the discoveries to come out of this sea level dataset is the far-reaching effects that El Niño and La Niña can have on the world. "In 2010, there was a massive La Niña and it essentially flooded huge parts of Australia and Southeast Asia. It rained so much on land, it dropped global sea levels by one centimeter [0.4 inches]," said Willis. "We had no idea it could have such a massive impact on global sea level." The global view that the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will provide, together with sea level data from models and observing stations, will provide invaluable information for governments and local authorities tasked with planning for things like sea level rise and storms, said Donlon. More About the Mission Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission and support from France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). The first Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite that will launch was named after the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich. It will follow the most recent U.S.-European sea level observation satellite, Jason-3, which launched in 2016 and is currently providing data. NASA's contributions to the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission are three science instruments for each of the two Sentinel-6 satellites: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System – Radio Occultation, and the Laser Reflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services for those satellites, ground systems supporting operation of the JPL-developed science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team. To learn more about NASA's study of sea level rise, visit: https://sealevel.nasa.gov News Media Contacts Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O'Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 / 818-354-2649 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • NASA-NOAA Satellite Analyzes Saharan Dust Plume
    Dust storms from Africa’s Saharan Desert traveling across the Atlantic Ocean are nothing new, but the current dust storm has been quite expansive, and NASA satellites have provided a look at the massive June plume. NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite showed the blanket of dust had moved over the Gulf of Mexico and extended into Central America and over part of the eastern Pacific Ocean. This June 24, 2020 image is from the Suomi NPP Ozone Mapping and Profiling Suite (OMPS) aerosol index. The dust plume moved over the Yucatan Peninsula and up through the Gulf of Mexico. The largest and thickest part of the plume is visible over the eastern and central Atlantic. Credit: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor NASA uses satellites and other resources to track aerosol particles made of desert dust, smoke, and volcanic ash. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard Suomi NPP provided a visible image, while the Ozone Mapping and Profiling Suite (OMPS) Nadir-Mapper (NM) instrument aboard the Suomi-NPP satellite provided absorbing aerosol index values. The OMPS index indicates the presence of light absorbing aerosol particles (ultraviolet-absorbing, or UV-absorbing, particles in the air) such as desert dust. The absorbing aerosol index is related to both the thickness and height of the aerosol layer. The Absorbing Aerosol Index is useful for identifying and tracking the long-range transport of volcanic ash from volcanic eruptions, smoke from wildfires or biomass burning events and dust from desert dust storms. These aerosol particals can even be tracked over clouds and areas covered by snow and ice. This image is a composite of the OMPS aerosol index and the VIIRS visible image both from NASA/NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite on June 24. The image shows the dust plume moved over the Yucatan Peninsula and up through the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor Colin Seftor, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., created imagery from the Suomi NPP OMPS absorbing aerosol index and visible imagery from the VIIRS instrument. He said that on June 23 and 24 the dust plume had moved completely over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, up through the Gulf of Mexico and into southern Texas. “At that point, the situation becomes more complicated because the absorbing aerosol index signal seen farther north into Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, etc., is probably a mix of dust and smoke from the numerous fires burning in the southwest U.S. You can also see that the dust traveled over Central America and out into the Eastern Pacific Ocean.” On June 25, an animation that combined OMPS aerosol index and VIIRS visible imagery from NASA/NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite was created at NASA Goddard showing the movement the Saharan dust cloud from June 15 to 25, 2020. The animation showed the dust plume streamed from Africa’s west coast over the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea and up through the Gulf of Mexico over some of the Gulf states. Aerosol particles absorb and scatter incoming sunlight, which reduces visibility and increases the optical depth. Aerosol particles have an effect on human health, weather and climate. Aerosol particles are produced from many events, including human activities (such as pollution from factories) and natural processes (such as smoke from fires, dust from dust storms, sea salt from breaking waves, and volcanic ash from volcanoes). Aerosol particles compromise human health when inhaled by people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Aerosol particles also affect weather and climate by cooling or warming Earth as well as enhancing or preventing cloud formation. This "true-color" composite image of the Saharan Dust plume was captured by the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA/NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite on June 24, 2020. The bright streaks seen at regular intervals are due to Sun glint off the ocean surface. Credit: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor On June 18, NASA’s Earth Observatory noted the thickest parts of the plume appeared to stretch about 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) across the Atlantic Ocean. By June 24, the plume extended over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). Dust from Africa can affect air quality as far away as North and South America if it is mixed down to ground level. But dust can also play an important ecological role, such as fertilizing soils in the Amazon and building beaches in the Caribbean. The dry, warm, and windy conditions associated with Saharan Air Layer outbreaks from Africa can also suppress the formation and intensification of tropical cyclones. “While Saharan dust transport across the ocean to the Americas is not uncommon, the size and strength of this particular event is quite unusual,” Seftor said. “Also, if you look off the coast of Africa, you can see yet another large cloud coming off the continent, continuing to feed the long chain of dust traveling across the Atlantic.” Animated GIFs of the dust storm's activity: This animation shows the aerosols in the Saharan dust plume from June 15 to 25, 2020. It was created from the Suomi NPP OMPS aerosol index. The dust plume moved from Africa’s west coast over the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea and up through the Gulf of Mexico. The largest and thickest part of the plume is visible over the eastern and central Atlantic. Credit: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor This animation of the progressing Saharan dust cloud across the Atlantic Ocean from June 15 to 25, 2020 combines OMPS aerosol index and VIIRS visible imagery from NASA/NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite. The dust plume moved from Africa’s west coast over the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea and up through the Gulf of Mexico. The largest and thickest part of the plume is visible over the eastern and central Atlantic Ocean. Credit: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor This "true-color" composite animation of visible satellite imagery shows the movement of the Saharan Dust plume from June 15 to 25, 2020. It was captured by the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA/NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite. The bright streaks seen at regular intervals are due to Sun glint off the ocean surface. Credit: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor
  • NASA, Partner Space Agencies Amass Global View of COVID-19 Impacts
    In response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) have joined forces to use the collective scientific power of their Earth-observing satellite data to document planet-wide changes in the environment and human society. The wealth of these agencies’ collective information now is available at the touch of a finger. In an unprecedented collaboration, the three space agencies have created the joint COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard, which integrates multiple satellite data records with analytical tools to allow user-friendly tracking of changes in air and water quality, climate change, economic activity, and agriculture. COVID-19 led to changes in human activities around the globe. Some bodies of water have run clearer, emissions of pollutants have temporarily declined, and transportation and shipment of goods have decreased. We can see some of these changes from space. NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are making satellite data available on the new COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard. Credit: NASA This tri-agency data resource gives the public and policymakers a unique tool to probe the short-term and long-term impacts of pandemic-related restrictions implemented around the world. The dashboard will continue to grow with new observations added over the coming months as the global economy gradually reopens. “Together NASA, ESA, and JAXA represent a great human asset: advanced Earth-observing instruments in space that are used every day to benefit society and advance knowledge about our home planet,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. “When we began to see from space how changing patterns of human activity caused by the pandemic were having a visible impact on the planet, we knew that if we combined resources, we could bring a powerful new analytical tool to bear on this fast-moving crisis.” In April, the three agencies formed a task force to take on the challenge. The group identified the most relevant satellite data streams and adapted existing computing infrastructure to share data from across the agencies and produce relevant indicators. The dashboard presents users with seamless access to data indicating changes in air and water quality, economic and agricultural activity on a global scale and in select areas of interest. Air quality changes around the world were among the first noticeable impacts of pandemic-related stay-at-home orders and reductions in industrial activity that emerged from satellite observations. One air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is primarily the result of burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation, shows up clearly in satellite data. NO2 has a lifetime of a few hours and is a precursor of ground-level ozone, which makes it a useful indicator of short-term air quality changes. The dashboard brings together current NO2 data from two NASA and ESA satellites, along with historical data for comparison. In additional to the global view of NO2, targeted regional areas include Los Angeles, Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, and Madrid. Changes in another critical component of our atmosphere, carbon dioxide (CO2), are highlighted in the dashboard to probe how global and local reactions to the pandemic have changed concentrations of this climate-warming greenhouse gas. Because of CO2’s high background concentration in the atmosphere and its long atmospheric lifetime of more than 100 years, short-term changes in atmospheric CO2 resulting from changes in anthropogenic emissions are very small relative to expected variations in abundances from the natural carbon cycle. A recent study in the journal Nature estimated that a three-month economic slowdown such as the world has just experienced would temporarily reduce the expected increase in CO2 concentrations from emissions into the atmosphere by a fraction of a percent. The dashboard presents data from a NASA satellite to look for global-scale, long-term changes in CO2. Carbon dioxide observations from a JAXA satellite zooms in on changes in select urban areas such as New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Delhi. Analysis from both NASA and JAXA data sets are consistent with the estimates of emission reductions in the Nature study. Recent water quality changes have been reported in a few locations that typically have intense human activities, such as industry and tourism, which have decreased during the pandemic. The dashboard presents targeted satellite observations from all three agencies of total suspended matter and chlorophyll concentrations in select coastal areas, harbors, and semi-enclosed bays to assess what has produced these changes in water quality, how widespread they may be, and how long they last. Long Island Sound, the North Adriatic Sea, and Tokyo Bay are among the areas examined. Widespread declines in global economic activity are a well-known impact of the pandemic. Observations from space over time of shipping activity in ports, cars parked at shopping centers, and nighttime lights in urban areas can be used as indicators of how specific sectors of the economy have been affected. Satellite data from each agency and commercial data purchased by NASA and ESA are presented in the dashboard to quantify these changes in Los Angeles; the Port of Dunkirk, France; Ghent, Belgium; Beijing, and other locations. The collective power of space-based Earth observations from NASA, ESA, and JAXA to see global changes around the world has been harnessed to produce the COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard. In this video, leaders from each agency – Thomas Zurbuchen (NASA), Josef Aschbacher (ESA), and Koji Terada (JAXA) – discuss their unprecedented collaboration. Credit: NASA/ESA/JAXA The dashboard will also present tri-agency satellite data looking for signs of changes in agricultural production around the world, such as harvesting and planting due to disruptions in the food supply chain or the availability of labor. Understanding the extent of any such changes would be important in maintaining global and local markets and food security as the world recovers from the pandemic. For more information on NASA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/coronavirus For more information about NASA's Earth science programs, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/earth News Media Contact Steve Cole Headquarters, Washington 202-358-0918 stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov
  • NASA, Partner Space Agencies to Release Global View of COVID-19 Impacts
    NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will unveil a dashboard of satellite data showing impacts on the environment and socioeconomic activity caused by the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during a media teleconference at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday, June 25. The COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard is a tri-agency collaboration that brings together current and historical satellite observations with analytical tools to create a user-friendly information resource for the public and researchers. The dashboard tracks key indicators of changes in air and water quality, climate, economic activity, and agriculture. The teleconference participants are: Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington Josef Aschbacher, director of ESA Earth observation programmes, Frascati, Italy Koji Terada, vice president and director general for the Space Technology Directorate at JAXA, Tsukuba, Japan Shin-ichi Sobue, project manager for JAXA’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2, Tsukuba, Japan Ken Jucks, upper atmosphere research program manager at NASA’s Earth Science Division, Washington Marie-Helene Rio, ocean applications scientist at the ESA Centre for Earth Observation, Frascati, Italy To participate in the teleconference, media must email their name and affiliation to Grey Hautaluoma at grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 24. Members of the media and the public can also submit questions before and during the briefing via social media with the hashtag #AskNASA. Audio of the teleconference with supporting graphics will stream live at: http://www.nasa.gov/live A link to the COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard along with supporting graphics for the briefing will become available at approximately 8 a.m. Thursday, June 25 at: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/13647 For more information about NASA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/coronavirus For more information on NASA’s Earth Science programs, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/earth News Media Contact Steve Cole Headquarters, Washington 202-358-0918 stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov
  • New International Sea Level Satellite Completes Testing
    if (typeof captions == 'undefined'){ var captions = []; } captions.push("Mission team members perform acoustic tests of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in a chamber outfitted with giant speakers that blast the spacecraft with sound. This is to ensure that the high decibels associated with liftoff won't damage the spacecraft. Credit: Airbus › Larger view") captions.push("The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite sits in front of a testing chamber where mission team members tested whether the spacecraft could endure the loud sounds it will encounter during launch. Credit: Airbus › Larger view") $(document).ready(function(){ var type = "news"; var slider = new MasterSlider(); // adds Arrows navigation control to the slider. slider.control('bullets', {autohide: false}); slider.control('arrows'); homepage_slider_options = { width: $(window).width(), // slider standard width height: 400, // slider standard height layout: "autofill", space:5, fullwidth: true, autoHeight: false, //will expand to height of image autoplay: false, speed: 20, loop: true, instantStartLayers: true //disable to allow for layer transitions }; slider.setup('masterslider_6821' , homepage_slider_options); if (type == "news"){ slider.api.addEventListener(MSSliderEvent.CHANGE_START , function(){ $('.slider_caption').html(captions[slider.api.index()]); }); } }); Once the state-of-the-art Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launches in November, it will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level—a key indicator of how Earth's warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines. But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space. That's where meticulous testing comes in. At the end of May, engineers finished putting the spacecraft—which is being built in Germany—through a battery of tests that began in November 2019. "If it can survive all the abuse we deliberately put it through on the ground, then it's ready for space," said John Oswald, the mission's deputy project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft is a part of the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, a joint U.S.-European effort in which two identical satellites will be launched five years apart. The spacecraft will join the Copernicus constellation of satellites that constitutes the European Union's Earth Observation Programme. Once in orbit, each satellite will collect sea level measurements down to the centimeter for 90% of the world's oceans. The data will add to almost 30 years of information gathered by an uninterrupted series of joint U.S.-European satellites, creating an unprecedented—and unbroken—40-year sea level dataset. The spacecraft will also measure the temperature and humidity of Earth's atmosphere, which can be used to help improve weather forecasts and hurricane predictions. These measurements are important because the oceans and atmosphere are tightly connected. "We're changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans," said Josh Willis, the mission's project scientist at JPL. "More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is going into the ocean." That heat causes seawater to expand, accounting for about one-third of the global average of modern-day sea level rise. Meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets account for the rest. "For climate science, what we need to know is not just sea level today, but sea level compared to 20 years ago. We need long records to do climate science," said Willis. Six scientific instruments are key to that task. Two of them will work in concert to measure the distance from the satellite to the ocean's surface. That information—combined with data from three other instruments that precisely establish the satellite's position in orbit and a sixth that will measure vertical slices of the atmosphere for temperature and humidity–will help determine sea levels around the world. Put Through Their Paces To ensure that the scientific instruments will work once they get into space, engineers sent the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich to a testing facility near Munich and ran the satellite through a gauntlet starting in November 2019. First up: the vibration test, where the engineers subjected the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite to the kinds of shaking it will experience while attached to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasting into orbit. Then in December, engineers tested the spacecraft in a big vacuum chamber and exposed it to the extreme temperatures that it will encounter in space, ranging from 149 to minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit (65 to minus 180 degrees Celsius). The next two trials took place in late April and May. The acoustics test, performed in April, made sure the satellite could withstand the loud noises that occur during launch. Engineers placed the spacecraft in a roughly 1,000-square-foot (100-square-meter) chamber outfitted with enormous speakers. Then they blasted the satellite with four 60-second bursts of sound, with the loudest peaking around 140 decibels. That's like standing next to a jet's engine as the plane takes off. Finally, in the last week of May, engineers performed an electromagnetic compatibility test to ensure that the sensors and electronics on the satellite wouldn't interfere with one another, or with the data collection. The mission uses state-of-the-art instruments to make precise measurements, so the smallest interference could compromise that data. Normally, JPL engineers would help to conduct these tests in person, but two of the trials took place after social-distancing safety measures had been established due to the coronavirus pandemic. So team members worked out a system to support their counterparts in Germany remotely. To account for the nine-hour time-zone difference, engineers in California pulled shifts from midnight to 10 a.m. for several weeks, consulting with colleagues in Germany through phone calls, video conferences, chat rooms and text messages. "It was confusing sometimes, keeping all the channels and groups going at the same time in the middle of the night, but I was impressed with our team," said Oswald. The upshot of all that effort? "The tests are complete and the preliminary results look good," Oswald said. Team members will spend the next several weeks completing the analysis of the test results and then preparing the satellite for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for launch this fall. About the Mission Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission and support from France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). The first Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite that will launch was named after the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich. It will follow the most recent U.S.-European sea level observation satellite, Jason-3, which launched in 2016 and is currently providing data. NASA's contributions to the Sentinel-6 mission are three of the science instrument payloads for each of the two Sentinel-6 satellites, including the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation, and the Laser Reflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services for those satellites, ground systems supporting operation of the JPL-provided science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team. To learn more about NASA's study of sea level rise, visit: https://sealevel.nasa.gov News Media Contact Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O'Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 / 818-354-2649 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • NASA Ocean Ecosystem Mission Preparing to Make Waves
    NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission, or PACE, has successfully passed its design reviews and moved into its construction and testing phase, preparing to advance the fields of global ocean and atmospheric science when it launches in 2023. After passing its last critical design review in February 2020, PACE has entered its integration and testing phase of development. PACE's primary sensor, the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI), is a highly advanced optical spectrometer that will be used to measure properties of light over portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Credit: NASA/Michael Starobin After passing its last critical design review in February 2020 – a rigorous evaluation by NASA science and engineering experts to ensure the mission and its components are sound before starting the building process – PACE has entered its integration and testing phase of development. An engineering test unit of its key instrument, the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI), is under construction at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and both the instrument and spacecraft will soon be tested in rigorous conditions that simulate launch and orbit. The mission even has a ride locked in: SpaceX of Hawthorne, California will provide a Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket to post the PACE spacecraft to its orbit 420 miles (676 kilometers) above Earth. “The PACE project spent five years creating our mission design, and this milestone is proof that it’s credible,” said Jeremy Werdell, an oceanographer in the Ocean Ecology Laboratory at NASA Goddard and PACE’s project scientist. “Test versions of PACE’s instruments were evaluated to support these critical design reviews. Watching OCI be built has finally made the mission feel real. It’s incredibly exciting to see its design realized in hardware, with test results confirming that it performs even better than expected.” After passing its last critical design review in February, PACE has entered its integration and testing phase of development. A mockup of the Ocean Color Instrument is under construction at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and both the instrument and spacecraft will soon be tested in rigorous conditions that simulate launch and orbit. Credit: NASA/Dennis Henry A Colorful Point of View PACE’s high-resolution instruments will see ocean and atmosphere features in unparalleled detail when the mission launches in 2023. The mission combines science and engineering advances and builds off historical ocean color sensors by NASA and other space agencies. Phytoplankton — tiny plant-like organisms and algae that live in the ocean — make up the basis of the marine food web and generate half of Earth’s oxygen, so monitoring their distributions over time is vital for understanding the health of the ocean and atmosphere. By measuring the intensity of the color of light that exits Earth’s ocean surface, PACE will capture fine details about plankton species, beneficial phytoplankton communities that fuel fisheries, and harmful algal blooms (HABs) that can poison animals and humans and disrupt tourism and commercial fishing. “If we look at plankton from the perspective of the carbon cycle, different types of plankton have specific roles,” said Ivona Cetinić, an oceanographer at NASA Goddard and PACE’s project science lead for biogeochemistry. “All of them take carbon from the atmosphere, but some are eaten by other animals, while others draw the carbon deep into the ocean. Right now, we know how much they take in, and we can put that into our big models, but it’s hard to understand what happens to carbon in the ocean. With PACE, we can study the role phytoplankton play, how different types determine the path carbon will take when it enters the ocean.” Besides the OCI, PACE will carry two polarimeters: Instruments that measure how various molecules and particles in the atmosphere change the oscillation of light waves passing through them. Light waves travel through space at different angles, and these angles change when they strike particles and gases in the atmosphere, or reflect off Earth’s surface. The amount and direction of this change provides clues to the particles’ composition and size, as well as surface features. The Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEXone) will be built and overseen by the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands. The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 (HARP2) is built by the Earth and Space Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Both of these instruments are capable of observing Earth from multiple angles simultaneously. “When you’re looking out your window, you might look down and there’s a bush, and it’s green, but if you go outside and stand next to it, it might look brown,” said Andrew Sayer, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard and PACE’s project science lead for atmospheres. “From the window, you’re seeing the top, which is covered in leaves. From the ground, you’re seeing the trunk, which is brown. The apparent color of something changes depending on the angle you’re looking at it from. When you’ve got a multi-angle instrument like SPEXone or HARP2, they can infer more about what they’re looking at.” PACE’s ability to see the complete rainbow will set a new standard for ocean scientists, Werdell said. “With PACE, NASA and its partners are building an Earth observatory that pushes the boundaries of space technologies and physics – a satellite to measure our home planet in ways that until recently were inconceivable,” he said. “It is without question going to be the most advanced ocean color instrument ever built – a masterpiece of all the greatest things about global ocean color.” To learn more about PACE, visit https://pace.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  • NASA Fosters Innovative Ways to Understand Biodiversity
    The yellow-billed cuckoo has soft brown wings, a white belly, a long tail with black and white spots, and is running out of places to live. The cuckoo’s population in its native breeding range in the eastern United States has declined in recent decades due to urbanization, heat waves and other factors. Climate change will likely further reduce its suitable habitat. Although the cuckoo is only one species in a vast world of flora and fauna, its story is not unique. To study and monitor changes in Earth’s biodiversity, or the immense volume of organisms in the world, scientists and citizen scientists record their sightings in the field. At the same time, sensors on the ground and on board satellites and aircraft monitor flora and fauna on a regional to global scale. NASA has funded four projects to create new virtual portals that bring into focus this wealth of biodiversity information to help inform scientists, land managers and decision makers around the world regarding the status and health of terrestrial ecosystems. Each of these projects highlights a different aspect of biodiversity and lets users create easy-to-use maps and other information products to track healthy and vulnerable species as they compete for resources, migrate to safer habitats and adapt to climate change. “Healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity are fundamental to life on Earth,” said Laura Rogers, a project manager overseeing these efforts at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “These projects provide critical information to conservationists and policymakers to protect our planet,” Rogers said. Where Are the Plants and Animals? If you’ve ever spotted a bright green frog with tiger stripes and wondered, what is that and how can I find more of them, you’re in luck. Tiger-striped leaf frogs are one of many species included in the Map of Life, an interactive virtual database that tracks mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some fish, insect and plant species around the world. The database can also forecast where species will live in the future and help you determine if their habitats will be protected by laws and regulations. A tiger-striped leaf frog (Phyllomedusa tomopterna) sits on a leaf. Credit: Bernard DUPONT/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) “As the world around us changes rapidly, society, policymakers, businesses and individuals need to make decisions about how we engage with the environment,” said Walter Jetz, a professor at Yale University leading the Map of Life effort. “The data is rapidly increasing,” Jetz said. The Map of Life tool integrates satellite images, museum records, modeling outputs and ground- and water-based information from citizen scientists. For example, the Map of Life gathers information from NASA’s satellites, like Landsat, which is jointly run with the U.S. Geological Survey, and instruments like the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites. “These satellites are offering global data that we can use and put together with raw data about species occurrences,” Jetz said. The tool aims to help government and nongovernment agencies make informed decisions as they work to conserve and protect our planet’s most vulnerable species. Jennifer McGowan, the Spatial Planning Technical Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy, is responsible for helping her organization prioritize conservation actions. “The Map of Life project provides species-level information,” McGowan said, which is useful for prioritizing which conservation actions to take to protect specific species. “The Map of Life’s species range maps, in particular, are invaluable” to help efforts that balance conservation opportunities across land and ocean habitats in cost-efficient and pragmatic ways, McGowan said. The team also created a mobile app of Map of Life that lets the user explore their surroundings and record their own sightings. It contains information on over 30,000 species around the world. If someone in Houston, Texas wanted to discover local dragonflies, for example, they would open the app, search their location and see a photo and description of Powdered Dancers, or Argia moesta, marble sized insects with long, translucent wings. Both the app and online portal reveal how land use changes, like growing food, cutting trees and building cities, are the primary drivers to shaping biodiversity, Jetz said. If there’s a change in the environment, like a new building over a wetland, there will likely be an impact to biodiversity, like a decrease in dragonflies in a particular area. How Are Communities of Species Impacted by Climate Change? Researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, are also creating a tool to help identify biodiversity changes in North America. In particular, the team, led by Jennifer Swenson and Jim Clark, both professors at Duke, want to know how one species could impact another as it relocates and competes for suitable habitats in a warming world. The team created an interactive web portal that pulls together satellite, airborne and ground-based information, as well as climate projections and ecological forecasts, to track how climate change will impact species and wildlife communities. For instance, the Predicting Biodiversity with a Generalized Joint Attribution Model, or PBGJAM, used information gathered by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and NASA’s remotely sensed Earth data and climate data, among other sources, to reveal where pileated woodpeckers, desert pocket mice and white fir trees, among many species, could migrate under future climate scenarios. A yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) sits on a branch. Credit: Dominic Sherony/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) “We need to consider who’s living with whom in order to understand larger impacts,” said Swenson. For instance, if the desert pocket mice don’t survive a drought, will their predators find other sources of food, change locations or also perish? The PBGJAM portal aims to explore how a biodiverse community responds to climate change as a whole to more accurately predict the impact on both the individual species and the entire ecosystem. To tackle this, the PBGJAM team built on its powerful Generalized Joint Attribution Model, or the latter part of the acronym, which can pull in different kinds of data for multiple species. For instance, the desert pocket mouse and other mice species are currently concentrated in the southwestern region of the U.S. As they start losing viable habitats with climate change and development, they’ll be forced to move north or east, all the while competing with each other for resources and scurrying from new and old predators. The model considers how many species live in a specific region and how many suitable habitats exist for specific species. The model can also predict how all this could change in the future and how one species’ movements could affect another’s as communities shift. PBGJAM provides a web interface that lowers the barrier of entry for decisionmakers, scientists and any interested individual to get involved. They only need to choose an ecosystem type and then see how it’s shifted, said Adam Wilson, a professor at the University at Buffalo. When Will Things Bloom? While PBGJAM takes a broad approach to studying climate change impacts on communities of species, the Advanced Phenological Information System (APIS) focuses on the seasonal dynamics of plant species. More specifically, APIS provides a framework to explore how climate change and other factors can impact phenology, or the study of seasonal life-cycle events such as leafing, flowering, reproduction and migration. APIS includes a constellation of software that relies on millions of field-based observations, near surface cameras and satellite data to explore and synthesize phenology observations from different times and on various spatial scales. The effort was co-led by Jeff Morisette, Chief Scientist for the National Invasive Species Council and Tom Maiersperger, Project Scientist for the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center. The center is part of NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System and is located at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Phenology relates to the timing of periodic plant and animal life cycle events, such as leaves changing color in the fall in Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona. Credit: National Park Service APIS includes information from MODIS, PhenoCam (a digital camera set up at fixed locations to capture time-lapse images and led by researchers at Northern Arizona University), the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), and NEON. The project also includes Conservation Science Partners who led the development of software to develop near-term phenological forecasts. “When you see a lilac tree blooming, you can say, that’s spring for that one lilac tree,” Morisette said. But what does that mean for the start of the season, as detected by a satellite observation? “APIS provides more comprehensive information over a wider area, across several monitoring networks, and at a range of scales,” Morisette said. “In the context of invasive plants and animals, it is important to understand how species compete with each other and how broader ecosystem dynamics and climate are impacting those species,” Morisette said. “If you only observe at limited temporal and spatial scales, you’re likely to miss something,” he said “Our goal for APIS was to develop technology to make data more accessible and easier to integrate with the data from other observational sources,” Kathy Gerst, a scientist with the USA-NPN, said. Gerst worked with Morisette and others to create APIS. “APIS allows people to bring data together seamlessly,” Gerst said. Ecologists, natural resource managers and climatologists can use APIS to look at the relationship between phenology and climate to see how threatened, endangered and invasive species respond to temperature and rainfall changes, Gerst said. APIS can also help researchers create maps to determine if spring is early in a particular year and study the long-term patterns to see how trends change over time. For example, Gerst and others published a paper that ties spring indices, or models that show the onset of spring, to actual phenological activity, like flowering, in 19 species of trees and shrubs. Other groups using APIS include the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest and North Central Climate Adaptation Science Centers. Both centers are examining phenology ties to drought. The U.S. National Park Service is using APIS to better understand vegetation and soils in its Inventory and Monitoring Division, and the Denver Zoo and Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia are using APIS to inform their rangeland management strategy. What Are Plants’ Colors Telling Us? To help supply APIS, PBGJAM and the Map of Life with robust plant data, a team led by Phil Townsend created the Ecological Spectral Information System (EcoSIS). Townsend is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fresh leaves and lush tree tops appear vibrantly green to our eyes because of spectra, or the way they reflect sunlight. Since they absorb every wavelength except for green, we see green. When they begin to change to yellow and red, the leaves are reflecting those colors’ wavelengths. These telltale signs, or changes in spectra, help researchers understand vegetation health. Although there is more spectral data than ever before from airborne, satellite and ground sensors, the data are not always easy to use. The EcoSIS database is a one-stop portal to add, discover and use spectral data. “Spectral information is an indicator for biodiversity,” Natasha Stavros, an engineer working with Townsend at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. Spectral data can help us understand genetic diversity, Stavros said. Now that EcoSIS is up and operating, the team is developing the Geospatial Spectroscopy Processing Environment on the Cloud (GEOSpec), which is a prototype for a user-focused data system that makes it easier to access and use spectral information. As we send more instruments into space and collect data from aircraft and ground sensors, we end up with a tremendous amount of data. To make that data accessible, GEOSpec operates in a cloud environment so that researchers can access, work and play with data without having to overwhelm their computers’ hardware capabilities. “GEOSpec is not about accessing data; it’s about enabling access to information,” Stavros said. Drawing on data from multiple satellite missions (not all collected at the same time), a team of NASA scientists and graphic artists created layers of global data for everything from the land surface, to polar sea ice, to the light reflected by the chlorophyll in the billions of microscopic plants that grow in the ocean. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto Stöckli Next Steps While GEOSpec builds on EcoSIS, the PBGJAM team plans to create tools that incorporate remotely sensed imagery to reveal canopy three-dimensional structure, composition and function. Many birds, mammals and insects make their homes in the vegetation canopy. The Map of Life team plans to create an online database that includes analysis products and visualizations from remotely sensed biodiversity data. These recently-funded tools will continue to lower the barrier of entry for users to interact with biodiversity data The projects were all funded under NASA’s Advanced Information Systems Technology (AIST) program, which is part of the Earth Science Technology Office at NASA Headquarters. The AIST program funds evolutionary and disruptive projects that meet NASA’s goals to effectively monitor and understand our planet. The program aims to increase access to science data and enable new observation measurements and information products. “AIST projects are defined and driven by science,” said Jacqueline LeMoigne, the AIST program manager. And in return, LeMoigne looks to the projects to help define new science goals and requirements to collect future science measurements from space. “As climate changes, species and communities of species must either adapt or migrate to areas with more favorable conditions,” Rogers said. These AIST projects help predict and track these adaptions and migrations. “In the long run, the program also aims to enable future NASA Earth science missions by discovering and maturing breakthrough computer science, software, and information system technologies,” LeMoigne said.​
  • Ice Melt Linked to Accelerated Regional Freshwater Depletion
    Seven of the regions that dominate global ice mass losses are melting at an accelerated rate, a new study shows, and the quickened melt rate is depleting freshwater resources that millions of people depend on. The impact of melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica on the world's ocean is well documented. But the largest contributors to sea level rise in the 20th century were melting ice caps and glaciers located in seven other regions: Alaska, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the Southern Andes, High Mountain Asia, the Russian Arctic, Iceland and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard. The five Arctic regions accounted for the greatest share of ice loss. And this ice melt is accelerating, potentially affecting not just coastlines but agriculture and drinking water supplies in communities around the world, according to the study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; the University of California, Irvine; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The study was led by Enrico Ciraci, a UCI graduate student researcher in Earth system science. "In the Andes Mountains in South America and in High Mountain Asia, glacier melt is a major source of drinking water and irrigation for several hundred million people," said study coauthor Isabella Velicogna, a senior scientist at JPL and professor of Earth system science at UCI. "Stress on this resource could have far-reaching effects on economic activity and political stability." The researchers based their work on data from the recently decommissioned U.S.-German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) pair of satellites that operated from 2002 to 2017, and their successor pair, GRACE Follow On (launched in 2018). The researchers calculated that, on average, these seven regions lost more than 280 billion tons of ice per year. This ice loss contributed a total of 13 millimeters (0.5 inches) in global sea level rise between 2002 and 2019, and the rate has increased from 0.7 millimeters (0.028 inches) per year in 2002 to 0.9 millimeters (0.035 inches) per year in 2019. As with GRACE, the GRACE-FO satellites continuously measure very slight changes in Earth's gravitational pull as they orbit Earth. Over time, shifts in the distribution of water are the largest source of gravity changes on the planet, so scientists can use the measurements of gravity change to track variations in the mass of water as it cycles from the ice caps and glaciers to the ocean. GRACE was a joint mission of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. GRACE-FO is a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences. When it launched in May 2018, 11 months had passed since GRACE made its last measurements. Velicogna and her coauthors closed the resulting data gap between the end of GRACE and the initiation of GRACE-FO by using a state-of-the-art modeling tool called Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2) from NASA's Global Modeling and Assimilation Office. MERRA-2 utilizes a host of independent observational datasets to boost the precision of its estimates. For this study, the researchers noted how well the MERRA-2 results lined up with the GRACE and GRACE-FO data, giving them a high degree of confidence of what these satellites would have observed if one or both were operating in the period of the data gap. Having a record based on the long-term, precision measurements of hundreds of thousands of the world's glaciers for over 18 years, Velicogna said, significantly enhances our understanding of their evolution. "This paper demonstrates that GRACE-FO, in addition to GRACE, is providing precise, reliable, worldwide observations of the fate of mountain glaciers, which are not only important for understanding sea level change, but also for managing our freshwater resources," she said. The study, titled "Continuity of the Mass Loss of the World's Glaciers and Ice Caps From the GRACE and GRACE Follow-On Missions," was published April 30 in Geophysical Research Letters. JPL managed the GRACE mission and manages the GRACE-FO mission for NASA's Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. More information on GRACE and GRACE-FO can be found here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/Grace/index.html https://gracefo.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/overview/ News Media Contacts Ian J. O'Neill / Jane J. Lee Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-2649 / 818-354-0307 ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov / jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov Brian Bell University of California, Irvine 949-824-8249 bpbell@uci.edu
  • NASA Wins 4 Webbys, 4 People's Voice Awards
    NASA today received four 2020 Webby awards, highlighting the agency's diverse digital offerings in websites, social media and apps across its broad programs. "We are very pleased that these awards show the diversity of our digital communications," said Bettina Inclán, NASA's associate administrator for communication. "We won for websites, social media, videos and apps. With awards going to NASA Headquarters and three field centers, they also show the whole agency's commitment to effective digital communication." NASA's four Webby Award winners are: NASA Moon Tunes - NASA's Johnson Space Center solicited songs for a playlist to accompany astronauts on their three-day trip to the Moon during the Artemis program, winning for Social Media in Culture & Lifestyle. More than 1 million submissions helped build the final playlist. Moon Tunes also won the People's Voice award in its category. Send Your Name to Mars - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited members of the public to send their names to Mars aboard the Perseverance rover; a record 10.9 million people did. The campaign won for Best Social Community Building and Engagement. "Send Your Name to Mars" also won the People's Voice award in its category. NASA's social media, managed by NASA's Office of Communications, won its second straight Webby for Best Overall Social Presence. NASA's flagship accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have tens of millions of followers, and the social media team regularly answers questions from the public via its #AskNASA video series and Reddit "Ask Me Anything" programs. "NASA Explorers: Cryosphere" - The "NASA Explorers" digital series from the Goddard Space Flight Center highlights NASA's scientific research around the world. The of "NASA Explorers" focused on research into the cryosphere, Earth's icy reaches. The series has 1.5 million views, and Claire Parkinson, one of the featured scientists, is now a finalist for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America award. Two other digital efforts were voted the People's Voice winner: NASA's Climate Change website and Solar System Interactive, which allows users to view the solar system from a variety of perspectives, including spacecraft. NASA's Global Climate Change (website nominee for Green) - This JPL-managed site tracks real-time data about how Earth's climate is changing. The site has received six nominations, winning two Webbys and two People's Voice awards. Solar System Interactive - Also from JPL, this site shows the current relative location of planets and other bodies, including spacecraft. It was nominated in the Education & Reference category of Apps, Mobile and Voice. "Our goal is to set the standard for innovation by creating digital experiences that engage, educate and inspire," said Michael Greene, director of Communications and Education at JPL. "We are honored that these efforts are being recognized by the Webby and the People's Voice awards." NASA received 12 nominations this year, a record for the agency. Its other nominees included: NASA Astronaut Reaction GIFs (Best Photograpy and Graphics) - NASA's Johnson Space Center created a series of reaction GIFs with an astronaut for public use. Rolling Stones on Mars (Best Influencer Endorsement) - NASA named a rock that appeared to have been moved by the thrusters of NASA's Mars InSight lander as it settled onto Mars. The campaign received 19 million social engagements. NASA's Exoplanet Exploration (website nominee for Weird and Science) - The site lets internet users explore planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets. It won a People's Voice Award in 2018. NASA Home and City (Government and Civil Innovation) - The new, upgraded interactive website lets users explore how NASA technology is in their home and around the world. A previous version of the site won a Webby in the Government category in 2010. The "Down to Earth" video series, in which astronauts talk about their perspective on Earth from space, was nominated in the Science & Education video category. NASA had three honorees in addition to the nominees: How the Visually Impaired Experience Hubble Images (Video) - The book "Touch the Universe" by Noreen Grice features some of Hubble's most well-known photographs, but all of these photos were specially made to include everyone. NASA JPL-edu Teachable Moments - Teachable Moments harness the latest space missions and discoveries from NASA to help educators engage students in STEM with educational explainers, lessons and activities. NASA.gov (Government and Civil Innovation) - NASA's home page has previously received three Webby Awards and 11 People's Voice awards. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. In 2019, there were more than 13,000 entries, and more than 3 million votes were cast for the People's Voice awards. See the full list of NASA Webby Award winners and nominees.
  • NASA Satellite Data Show Air Pollution Decreases over Southwest U.S. Cities
    On March 19, California was one of the first states to set mandatory stay-at-home restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Arizona and Nevada followed suit around April 1. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board NASA's Aura satellite provided data that indicate that these restrictions have led to about a 31% decrease in NO2 levels in the Los Angeles basin relative to previous years. NO2, or nitrogen dioxide, is an air pollutant measured by OMI. The estimated reductions for other cities in the Southwest U.S. before and after the quarantine restrictions are 22% for the San Francisco Bay Area; 25% for San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico; 16% for Phoenix; and 10% for Las Vegas. // I added jquery on ready here to fix bug that was preventing // the module from expanding beyond height:0 -JM $(function() { // load curtain modules within hidden sections when expand link is clicked $(".curtain_container:hidden").parents(".expandable_element").siblings(".expandable_element_link").on("click.curtain", function(){ $(this).siblings(".expandable_element").find(".curtain_container").twentytwenty(); $(this).off("click.curtain"); }); $(".curtain_container").imagesLoaded(function(){ $(".curtain_container").twentytwenty(); }); }); Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Decreases Over American Southwest The slider above shows satellite estimates of NO2 from Aura’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) as an average of March 25 through April 25. The left image shows the mean of the 150-day period from 2015 through 2019, while the right image shows the mean of the 30-day period for 2020. Credit: NASA For more information on NASA's air quality research, visit https://aura.gsfc.nasa.gov. The visual for this article and other regions can be downloaded from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. For more information please contact: Peter Jacobs Public Affairs Officer peter.jacobs@nasa.gov
  • NASA's ICESat-2 Measures Arctic Ocean's Sea Ice Thickness, Snow Cover
    Arctic sea ice helps keep Earth cool, as its bright surface reflects the Sun’s energy back into space. Each year scientists use multiple satellites and data sets to track how much of the Arctic Ocean is covered in sea ice, but its thickness is harder to gauge. Initial results from NASA’s new Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) suggest that the winter sea ice has thinned by as much as 20% since the end of the first ICESat mission (2003-2009), contrary to existing studies that find sea ice thickness has remained relatively constant in the last decade. ICESat-2 has a laser altimeter, which uses pulses of light to precisely measure height down to about an inch. Each second, the instrument sends out 10,000 pulses of light that bounce off the surface of Earth and return to the satellite and records the length of time it takes to make that round trip. The light reflects off the first substance it hits, whether that’s open water, bare sea ice or snow that has accumulated on top of the ice, so scientists use a combination of ICESat-2 measurements and other data to calculate sea ice thickness. By comparing ICESat-2 data with measurements from another satellite, researchers have also created the first satellite-based maps of the amount of snow that has accumulated on top of Arctic sea ice, tracking this insulating material. A view of the Arctic Ocean with monthly average sea ice thickness spanning November 2018 to March 2019. Low values are depicted in light blue, and higher values (5 meters) are depicted in magenta. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. Measuring Sea Ice Thickness with ICESat-2 “The Arctic sea ice pack has changed dramatically since monitoring from satellites began more than four decades ago,” said Nathan Kurtz, ICESat-2 deputy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The extraordinary accuracy and year-round measurement capability of ICESat-2 provides an exciting new tool to allow us to better understand the mechanisms leading to these changes, and what this means for the future.” Arctic sea ice thickness dropped drastically in the first decade of the 21st century, as measured by the first ICESat mission from 2003 to 2009 and other methods. The European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2, launched in 2010, has measured a relatively consistent thickness in Arctic sea ice since then. With the launch of ICESat-2 in 2018, researchers looked to this new way of measuring sea ice thickness to advance the study of this data record. “We can’t get thickness just from ICESat-2 itself, but we can use other data to derive the measurement,” said Petty. For example, the researchers subtract out the height of snow on top of the sea ice by using computer models that estimate snowfall. “The first results were very encouraging.” In their study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Petty and his colleagues generated maps of Arctic sea ice thickness from October 2018 to April 2019 and saw the ice thickening through the winter as expected. Overall, however, calculations using ICESat-2 found that the ice was thinner during that time period than what researchers have found using CryoSat-2 data. Petty’s group also found that small but significant 20% decline in sea ice thickness by comparing February/March 2019 ICESat-2 measurements with those calculated using ICESat in February/March 2008 – a decline that the CryoSat-2 researchers don’t see in their data. These are two very different approaches to measuring sea ice, Petty said, each with its own limitations and benefits. CryoSat-2 carries a radar to measure height, as opposed to ICESat-2’s lidar, and radar mostly passes through snow to measure the top of the ice. Radar measurements like the ones from CryoSat-2 could be thrown off by seawater flooding the ice, he noted. In addition, ICESat-2 is still a young mission and the computer algorithms are still being refined, he said, which could ultimately change the thickness findings. “I think we’re going to learn a lot from having these two approaches to measuring ice thickness. They might be giving us an upper and lower bound on the sea ice thickness, and the right answer is probably somewhere in between,” Petty said. “There are reasons why ICESat-2 estimates could be low, and reasons why CryoSat-2 could be high, and we need to do more work to understand and bring these measurements in line with each other.” With ICESat-2 and CryoSat-2 using two different methods to measure ice thickness – one measuring the top of the snow, the other the boundary between the bottom of the snow layer and the top of the ice layer – but researchers realized they could combine the two to calculate the snow depth. “This is the first time ever that we can get snow depth across the entire Arctic Ocean’s sea ice cover,” said Ron Kwok, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and author of another study in JGR Oceans. “The Arctic region is a desert – but what snow we do get is very important in terms of the climate and insulating sea ice.” The study found that snow starts building up slowly in October, when newly formed ice has an average of about 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow on it and multiyear ice has an average of 5.5 inches (14 cm) of snow. Snowfall picks up later in the winter in December and January and reaches its maximum depth in April, when the relatively new ice has an average of 6.7 inches (17 cm) and the older ice has an average of 10.6 inches (27 cm) of snow. When the snow melts in the spring, it can pool up on the sea ice – those melt ponds absorb heat from the Sun and can warm up the ice faster, just one of the impacts of snow on ice. For more information on ICESat-2, visit http://www.nasa.gov/icesat-2 or icesat-2.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  • NASA Funds Four Research Projects on COVID-19 Impacts
    The COVID-19 pandemic changed the routines of millions of people around the world seemingly overnight. In some places, once-congested streets are now easily navigable; previously crammed sidewalks, eerily vacant. Such widespread, rapid change in human activity is unprecedented and its effects on our planet and our lives are only just beginning to be realized. NASA’s Earth Science Division is supporting the science community as it investigates the many changes this unique situation has brought to light. Through its Rapid Response and Novel Research in Earth Science (RRNES) initiative, the agency is providing funding for selected, rapid-turnaround projects that make innovative use of satellite data and other NASA resources to address the different environmental, economic and societal impacts of the pandemic. NASA announced last month the first RRNES projects and is continuing to evaluate new project proposals. The agency recently funded the following four RRNES projects: Exploring Uneven Gains in Urban Air Quality The drastic reduction of passenger vehicles on the roads has resulted in a drop in air pollution, particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in many urban areas. However, according to Susan Anenberg and Dan Goldberg from George Washington University, initial analysis of satellite data indicates that the decrease in NO2 concentrations across cities globally during their lockdown periods has been inconsistent. Cities in China and Italy, for example, seem to show a much greater and more abrupt decline in this type of pollution than many cities in the U.S. "Our project will link satellite remote sensing with weather, traffic counts, and other data to shed light on why we are seeing these inconsistent effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on air quality in different cities around the world," said Goldberg. Data like this can greatly benefit public health both as we navigate the current pandemic and in the future. "Since air pollution may be a risk factor for increased severity of COVID-19 outcomes, accurate information about air pollution levels during the COVID-19 crisis is critical to protect public health," Anenberg said. "Our project will also improve public health in the long-term by advancing our understanding of how transportation policies can be designed to improve air quality most effectively and efficiently." Over the past several weeks, NASA satellite measurements have revealed significant reductions in air pollution over the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast United States. Similar reductions have been observed in other regions of the world. These recent improvements in air quality have come at a high cost, as communities grapple with widespread lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders as a result of the spread of COVID-19. The March 2020 levels of nitrogen dioxide in the northeast U.S. were 30% lower on average than previous years. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio Impact of Air Pollution Reduction on the Atmosphere Although satellites have observed a global decrease in some types of air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, it remains to be seen how long the reduction in harmful emissions will last and what effects these changes will have on the chemistry of the atmosphere in the future. University at Buffalo scientist Kang Sun is developing a process that will give scientists and stakeholders a way to efficiently monitor both. "Using a new data-driven framework that combines satellite and meteorological data, we will take NASA satellite assets one step further to quantify the reduction in emissions and its impact on air quality chemistry," said Sun. For now, he plans to focus his research on three regions, each at different phases of the pandemic and that have adhered to different regulations and policies in an effort to control it. "We will focus on nitrogen oxides in the polluted regions of Jianghan Plain (which includes Wuhan) in China, Po Valley in Italy, and southern California in the U.S.," he said. "However, the established framework can be quickly applied to other regions, time periods, and trace gases with rapid sharing of the results, algorithm, and data generated by this project.” Air Pollution Links to Water Quality What goes into our air can also impact other parts of the Earth system, like water quality. City University of New York scientists Maria Tzortziou and Brice Grunert are researching this connection to determine what impact the COVID-19-related declines in air pollution may have on coastal water quality in Long Island Sound, near New York City. "Socioeconomic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a dramatic decline in atmospheric nitrogen pollution across the globe. Yet, the impacts on atmospherically deposited nitrogen and resulting changes in coastal aquatic ecology remain unknown," said Tzortziou. In general, an overabundance of nitrogen and other chemicals and nutrients in the water can cause excessive algae growth. When the algae decompose, a process that consumes oxygen, the water is often left without enough oxygen to sustain life. In other words, these processes have a negative effect on water quality. The reduction of atmospheric nitrogen pollution due to society’s response to the pandemic provides scientists with a unique opportunity to investigate air pollution's influence on water quality. "Using new measurements from ground-based and satellite platforms to capture changes in both atmospheric and water quality conditions, this project will help address a gap in our fundamental understanding of air-water exchange of nutrients and pollutants, and how this impacts and is impacted by environmental regulations, socioeconomic policy responses and decision making," said Tzortziou. Shedding (Night) Light on Pandemic Economic Impacts In addition to environmental changes, measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have led to a substantial shift in human activity and movement around the globe. A team of researchers led by Miguel Román, program director at Universities Space Research Association and a principal investigator of NASA's Black Marble science team, is using satellite nighttime light data to help assess the social and economic impacts of this crisis locally to globally, and the effectiveness of containment actions, such as stay-at-home orders, taken to control the spread of the virus. "Our research team has been analyzing images of Earth at night to decipher patterns of energy use, transportation, migration, and other economic and social activities," Román said. "Currently, there are minimal data about how different containment strategies have affected local businesses and neighborhoods, and how companies and residents are responding to preventative measures aimed at containment." The research team will use NASA's Black Marble – a product suite that provides daily satellite-derived nighttime light data – along with population, urban infrastructure, and local pandemic response information to develop COVID-19-specific maps and data products capable of tracking these responses from the street level to the global level in near-real-time. "By tracking responses at fine spatial scales – at the sub-neighborhood level, for example – using NASA’s Black Marble product, we seek to improve understanding of how responses to containment strategies have varied within cities and across metropolitan areas with different levels of urbanization and regulation," said Román. This information can inform stakeholders responsible for monitoring the extent, duration, and recovery from this and future outbreaks and disasters.
  • NASA's Claire Parkinson Named Finalist for Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal
    On May 3, 2020, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service announced 27 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) finalists for 2020 – outstanding federal employees who serve the public good and are addressing many of our country’s greatest challenges. One of those winners is climatologist and author Claire Parkinson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Claire was selected for her achievements in conducting breakthrough scientific research documenting how the changing sea ice covers in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans have played a significant role in climate change and for her role as project scientist for NASA's Aqua satellite. Claire is one of six finalists in the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement category. This medal recognizes a federal employee for leading significant and sustained accomplishments throughout a federal career of 20 or more years. In this category, she joins Dr. Anthony Fauci, who for decades has served as the government’s premier expert on infectious diseases and provided critical health care information to the public and government officials on HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS, swine flu and, most recently, COVID-19. “I am very honored to be considered for a Service to America Medal,” Parkinson said. “It has been an incredible privilege to get to work at NASA for the past 41-plus years, and what a bonus to see the NASA Earth science efforts discussed as significant societal contributions along with such efforts as NIH work on infectious diseases and treatments for leukemia and Department of Justice efforts to ensure that minority communities have access to credit. It is great to see the Earth science efforts viewed in this very positive light and to have the Partnership for Public Service so wonderfully keen on highlighting the value that the American public gets out of its federal government civil servant workforce.” To know the evolution of sea ice and how we observe it from space is to know Dr. Claire Parkinson. Meet the scientist who continues to have a profound effect on the study of climate change through her work on monitoring the health of global sea ice. Credit: NASA Claire L. Parkinson has been a climatologist at NASA Goddard since July 1978 and a senior fellow at Goddard since 2005. Her research emphasis has been on polar sea ice and its connections to the rest of the climate system and to climate change, with a particular emphasis on satellite remote sensing. This work has involved satellite data set generation and analysis, including the determination of decreases in Arctic sea ice coverage since the 1970s and examination of their regional variabilities and impacts, plus the quantification and analysis of the very different time series of sea ice changes in the Antarctic. Claire has also developed a computer model of sea ice, has done fieldwork in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, and is the lead author of an atlas of Arctic sea ice from satellite data and a coauthor of two other sea ice atlases. Since May 1993, Claire has additionally been the project scientist for the Aqua satellite mission, which launched in May 2002 and is transmitting data on many atmospheric, ocean, land and ice variables. She has also written an introductory book on examining the Earth with satellite imagery, has coauthored with Warren Washington a university textbook on climate modeling, has coedited two books on satellite observations related to global change, is lead editor of a Data Products Handbook for NASA's Earth Observing System, and is lead editor of a NASA Earth Science Reference Handbook. In 2010, she published a book entitled "Coming Climate Crisis? Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix" about climate change and her concerns regarding the possibility of implementing potentially dangerous geoengineering projects. In 2011, she led a "Women of Goddard" outreach effort that included production of a book on "Women of Goddard: Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" and a set of six related posters. Outside of her NASA work, she has written a book on the history of western science from 1202 to 1930. The Sammies, known as the “Oscars” of government service, are a highly respected honor with a rigorous selection process. Named for the Partnership for Public Service’s late founder who was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963, these awards align with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people. NASA's Dr. Claire Parkinson speaking at the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center. Credit: NASA/Steve Graham The Partnership is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to help make our government more effective, and the Sammies honorees represent the many exceptional federal workers who are doing just that—breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results. Whether they’re defending the homeland, protecting the environment, ensuring public safety, making scientific and medical discoveries or responding to natural and man-made disasters, these men and women put service before self and make a lasting difference. All 27 finalists also are eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award. Beginning Sunday, May 3 at 6 p.m. ET, members of the public can vote online for the federal employee they believe has made the most significant contribution to the American people. The People’s Choice winner will be announced in the summer. For more information about the Sammies, visit https://servicetoamericamedals.org/. For more about Claire Parkinson, visit: https://science.gsfc.nasa.gov/sed/bio/claire.l.parkinson https://women.nasa.gov/claire-parkinson/
  • NASA Space Laser Missions Map 16 Years of Ice Sheet Loss
    Using the most advanced Earth-observing laser instrument NASA has ever flown in space, scientists have made precise, detailed measurements of how the elevation of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have changed over 16 years. The results provide insights into how the polar ice sheets are changing, demonstrating definitively that small gains of ice in East Antarctica are dwarfed by massive losses in West Antarctica. The scientists found the net loss of ice from Antarctica, along with Greenland's shrinking ice sheet, has been responsible for 0.55 inches (14 millimeters) of sea level rise between 2003 and 2019 – slightly less than a third of the total amount of sea level rise observed in the world's ocean. Using the most advanced Earth-observing laser instrument NASA has ever flown in space, scientists have made precise, detailed measurements of how the elevation of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have changed over 16 years. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Download this video in HD from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. The findings come from NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2), which launched in 2018 to make detailed global elevation measurements, including over Earth's frozen regions. By comparing the recent data with measurements taken by the original ICESat from 2003 to 2009, researchers have generated a comprehensive portrait of the complexities of ice sheet change and insights about the future of Greenland and Antarctica. The study found that Greenland's ice sheet lost an average of 200 gigatons of ice per year, and Antarctica's ice sheet lost an average of 118 gigatons of ice per year. One gigaton of ice is enough to fill 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools or cover New York's Central Park in ice more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) thick, reaching higher than the Chrysler Building. "If you watch a glacier or ice sheet for a month, or a year, you're not going to learn much about what the climate is doing to it," said Ben Smith, a glaciologist at the University of Washington and lead author of the new paper, published online in Science on April 30. "We now have a 16-year span between ICESat and ICESat-2 and can be much more confident that the changes we're seeing in the ice have to do with the long-term changes in the climate." ICESat-2's instrument is a laser altimeter, which sends 10,000 pulses of light a second down to Earth's surface, and times how long it takes to return to the satellite – to within a billionth of a second. The instrument's pulse rate allows for a dense map of measurement over the ice sheet; its high precision allows scientists to determine how much an ice sheet changes over a year to within an inch. The researchers took tracks of earlier ICESat measurements and overlaid the tracks of ICESat-2 measurements from 2019, and took data from the tens of millions of sites where the two data sets intersected. That gave them the elevation change, but to get to how much ice has been lost, the researchers developed a new model to convert volume change to mass change. The model calculated densities across the ice sheets to allow the total mass loss to be calculated. "These first results looking at land ice confirm the consensus from other research groups, but they also let us look at the details of change in individual glaciers and ice shelves at the same time," said Tom Neumann, ICESat-2 project scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. In Antarctica, for example, the detailed measurements showed that the ice sheet is getting thicker in parts of the continent's interior as a result of increased snowfall, according to the study. But the loss of ice from the continent's margins, especially in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, far outweighs any gains in the interior. In those places, the loss is due to warming from the ocean. In Greenland, there was a significant amount of thinning of coastal glaciers, Smith said. The Kangerdulgssuaq and Jakobshavn glaciers, for example, have lost 14 to 20 ft (4 to 6 m) of elevation per year – the glacial basins have lost 16 gigatons per year and 22 gigatons per year, respectively. Warmer summer temperatures have melted ice from the surface of the glaciers and ice sheets, and in some basins the warmer ocean water erodes away the ice at their fronts. "The new analysis reveals the ice sheets' response to changes in climate with unprecedented detail, revealing clues as to why and how the ice sheets are reacting the way they are," said Alex Gardner, a glaciologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and co-author on the Science paper. The study also examined ice shelves – the floating masses of ice at the downstream end of glaciers. These ice shelves, which rise and fall with the tides, can be difficult to measure, said Helen Amanda Fricker, a glaciologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and co-author on the Science paper. Some of them have rough surfaces, with crevasses and ridges, but the precision and high resolution of ICESat-2 allows researchers to measure overall changes. This is one of the first times that researchers have used laser altimetry to measure loss of the floating ice shelves around Antarctica simultaneously with loss of the continent's ice sheet. The researchers found ice shelves are losing mass in West Antarctica, where many of the continent's fastest-moving glaciers are located as well. Patterns of thinning over the ice shelves in West Antarctica show that Thwaites and Crosson ice shelves have thinned the most, an average of about 16 ft (5 m) and 10 ft (3m) of ice per year, respectively. Ice that melts from ice shelves doesn't raise sea levels, since it's already floating – just like an ice cube in a full cup of water doesn't overflow the glass. But the ice shelves do provide stability for the glaciers and ice sheets behind them. "It's like an architectural buttress that holds up a cathedral," Fricker said. "The ice shelves hold the ice sheet up. If you take away the ice shelves, or even if you thin them, you're reducing that buttressing force, so the grounded ice can flow faster." For more information on ICESat-2, visit: https://nasa.gov/icesat-2 https://icesat-2.gsfc.nasa.gov News Media Contact Peter Jacobs NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. 301-286-0535 Peter.jacobs@nasa.gov Jane J. Lee Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov
  • NASA Receives 12 Webby Award Nominations for 2020
    The Rolling Stones on Mars, astronauts' reactions for your GIF collection, and Moon Tunes — NASA's social media and websites spanned the virtual universe in 2020, and they got noticed. The agency received 12 nominations for the 2020 Webby Awards, nearly double the number of any previous year. “Receiving so many Webby nominations in different media and on multiple topics shows the creativity, dedication and diversity of NASA’s digital communications team,” said Bettina Inclán, associate administrator for communications. “I want to congratulate all of them on this well-deserved recognition.” For the second straight year, NASA's social media was nominated for Best Overall Social Presence (Brand), a category in which NASA won both the 2019 Webby, awarded by judges, and the 2019 People's Voice, the result of a popular vote. Individual social media campaigns were also honored: NASA Astronaut Reaction GIFs (Best Photograpy and Graphics) — NASA's Johnson Space Center created a series of reaction GIFs with an astronaut for public use. NASA Explorers: Cryosphere (Social Content Series & Campaigns | Education & Discovery) — This first season of the NASA Explorers digital series takes viewers along with NASA researchers who study Earth’s changing ice. NASA Moon Tunes (Culture & Lifestyle) — NASA solicited entries for a playlist to accompany astronauts on their three-day trip to the moon during the Artemis program. More than 1 million submissions helped build the final playlist. Rolling Stones on Mars (Best Influencer Endorsement) — NASA named a rock that appeared to have been moved by the thrusters of NASA's Mars Insight Lander as it settled onto Mars. The campaign received 19 million social engagements. Send Your Name to Mars (Best Social Community Building and Engagement) — NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory allowed members of the public to send their names to Mars aboard the Perseverance rover; a record 10.9 million people did. Four NASA websites received five nominations: NASA's Exoplanet Exploration (Weird and Science) — lets Internet users explore planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets. The site won a People's Voice Award in 2018. NASA's Global Climate Change (Green) — tracks real-time data about how Earth's climate is changing. The site has received five nominations, winning two Webbys and two People's Voice awards. NASA Home and City (Government and Civil Innovation) — The new, upgraded interactive website lets users explore how NASA technology is in their home and around the world. A previous version of the site won a Webby for government in 2010. The Solar System Interactive, which shows the current relative location of planets and other bodies, including spacecraft, was nominated in the Education & Reference category of Apps, Mobile and Voice. The "Down to Earth" video series, in which astronauts talk about their perspective on Earth from space, was nominated in the Science & Education video category. NASA had three honorees in addition to the nominees: How the Visually Impaired Experience Hubble Images (Video) — The book "Touch the Universe" by Noreen Grice features some of Hubble's most well-known photographs; but all of these photos were specially made to include everyone. NASA JPL-edu Teachable Moments — Teachable Moments harness the latest space missions and discoveries from NASA to help educators inspire the space explorers of the future. NASA.gov (Government and Civil Innovation) — NASA's home page has previously received three Webby Awards and 11 People's Voice awards. The agency’s use of social media began in earnest in 2008, when Veronica McGregor, news manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, began tweeting in the voice of the Mars Phoenix Lander. Since then, the agency has added channels across a variety of platforms. On Twitter, NASA has 36 million followers, with 22 million on Facebook and 57 million on Instagram. NASA’s social media presence and the NASA.gov website are managed by NASA’s Office of Communications. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. In 2019, there were more than 13,000 entries, and more than 3 million votes were cast for the People’s Voice awards. See the full list of NASA Webby Award winners and nominees.

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