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:

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  • Climate science and the Supreme Court
    by Judith Curry An alternative assessment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s statements on climate change. For those of you not in the U.S., confirmation hearings on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court … Continue reading →
  • T cell cross-reactivity and the Herd immunity threshold
    By Nic Lewis An interesting new paper by Marc Lipsitch and co-authors, “Cross-reactive memory T cells and herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2”, has recently been published.[1] It discusses immunological and epidemiological aspects and implications of pre-existing cross-reactive adaptive immune system memory … Continue reading →
  • What the pandemic has taught us about science
    The scientific method remains the best way to solve many problems, but bias, overconfidence and politics can sometimes lead scientists astray It’s been awhile since I have been so struck by an article that I felt moved to immediately do … Continue reading →
  • How we fool ourselves
    by Judith Curry Crowd sourcing examples of fallacious thinking from climate science. While I have been very busy, I have kept the Denizen’s entertained with threads on politics and cancel culture.  Lets face it, that stuff has been on all … Continue reading →
  • Politics discussion thread II
    by Judith Curry Looks like we need a new thread on this. I’m still crazy busy but doing my best to keep the blog rolling along.  Thanks for your continued participation!
  • Herd immunity to COVID-19 and pre-existing immune responses
    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 →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that have caught my eye this past 12(!) weeks. Pattern Recognition Methods to Separate Forced Responses from Internal Variability in Climate Model Ensembles and Observations https://journals.ametsoc.org/jcli/article/33/20/8693/353735/Pattern-Recognition-Methods-to-Separate-Forced… An increase in global trends of tropical cyclone … Continue reading →
  • FIRE
    by Judith Curry Subtitle: our failure to live in harmony with nature. I’m taking a breather today from nonstop hurricane stuff. Well, ‘breather’ may not be quite the right word. As I’m writing this, I’m looking out into the smoke … Continue reading →
  • COVID-19: evidence shows that transmission by schoolchildren is low
    By Nic Lewis Much fuss has been made in the UK, not least by teachers’ unions, about recommencing physical school attendance. As this issue applies to many countries, I thought it worth highlighting research findings in Europe. While it is … Continue reading →
  • Part of the heat is coming from beneath our feet.
    by Judith Curry A thought-provoking article  from my new favorite blog, The Ethical Skeptic. The Ethical Skeptic My new favorite blog is The Ethical Skeptic.  From the About page: “It is the intent of this author and purpose of this … Continue reading →
  • Politics discussion thread
    by Judith Curry It’s time for a politics thread, to deflect the political comments that are sneaking into the technical threads. Have at it.  U.S. presidential politics is an obvious topic.  Interesting things going on in Europe and Australia and … Continue reading →
  • New confirmation that climate models overstate atmospheric warming
    by Ross McKitrick Two new peer-reviewed papers from independent teams confirm that climate models overstate atmospheric warming and the problem has gotten worse over time, not better. The papers are Mitchell et al. (2020) “The vertical profile of recent tropical … Continue reading →
  • New paper suggests historical period estimates of climate sensitivity are not biased low by unusual variability in sea surface temperature patterns
    By Nic Lewis An important new paper by Thorsten Mauritsen, Associate Professor at Stockholm University[i] and myself has just been accepted for publication (Lewis and Mauritsen 2020)[ii]. Its abstract reads: Recently it has been suggested that natural variability in sea … Continue reading →
  • Emergent constraints on TCR and ECS from historical warming in CMIP5 and CMIP6 models
    By Nic Lewis This is a brief comment on a new paper[i] by a mathematician in the Exeter Climate Systems group, Femke Nijsse, and two better known colleagues, Peter Cox and Mark Williamson. I note that Earth Systems Dynamics published … Continue reading →
  • Cancel culture discussion thread II
    by Judith Curry Some additional articles and events to discuss. This is a bit thin, but we needed a new thread and I am short of time. Cliff Mass fired by NPR from his local radio show [link] The cancel … Continue reading →
  • 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.

NASA GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS

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  • Getting to the Heart of the (Particulate) Matter
    Scientists have long known the air we breathe can be hazardous to our health. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 90 percent of the world’s population breathes air containing harmful levels of pollutants. Airborne particulate matter (PM) is especially dangerous. Breathing these tiny, floating solid and/or liquid particles of organic and inorganic matter, also known as aerosols, results in more than 4 million premature deaths each year due to cardiovascular, respiratory, and other illnesses, according to a major international health study called the Global Burden of Disease. Now a new NASA satellite mission currently in development promises to take research into the connections between PM air pollution and human health to new heights. The Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) investigation, targeted for launch in 2022, will produce unique maps of PM air pollution that epidemiologists will use to study how different types of PM – mixtures of particles with different sizes, shapes, and compositions – affect our health. The three-year investigation marks the first-ever partnership between NASA, epidemiologists and health organizations to use space-based data to study human health and improve lives. Ambient particulate matter air pollution kills more than four million people worldwide every year. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 “We know exposure to airborne particles from combustion of fossil fuels, traffic, smoke, and dust is associated with various diseases and even mortality,” said MAIA Principal Investigator David Diner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. JPL is building the MAIA instrument and managing the investigation. “It is likely that infections from bacteria, fungi, or a virus such as COVID-19 can be exacerbated by air pollution-related health problems that people already have, making them more susceptible to severe illness and adverse health consequences.” Particulate matter air pollution has numerous sources, both natural and human-produced. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Power generation is a major source of particulate matter pollution. Credit: CC 0 Public Domain Thick smoke streaming from a line of intense wildfires in California and Oregon blankets much of the U.S. West Coast in this natural-color image captured September 9, 2020, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Many communities in the region are facing extremely poor and sometimes hazardous air quality. The particulate matter contained in wildfire smoke is linked to numerous adverse health impacts. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory A sandstorm envelopes Casa Grande, Arizona, July 5, 2011. The mineral dust that can cover the sky in desert areas is made of tiny pieces of windblown soil. Credit: Roxy Lopez/CC BY-SA 3.0 Particulate Matter Air Pollution: A Not-So-Clear but Present Danger When it comes to PM and health, size matters: differently sized particles are associated with different health effects. The commonly regulated size classifications are PM10 (inhalable particles with diameters of 10 micrometers and less) and PM2.5 (respirable particles with diameters of 2.5 micrometers and less). Larger particles can irritate our airways, while smaller particles can penetrate deeper into our lungs and cause inflammation that affects other organs. Scientists have associated PM2.5 with increased risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Other studies show people who breathe more PM are more likely to develop lung cancer, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and problems during pregnancy and birth, such as preterm birth and low birth weight. Particulate matter air pollution is associated with numerous adverse health effects. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Less understood is which particle constituents are more harmful than others. “Particulate matter is complex,” Diner said. “Dust particles are irregularly shaped, while droplets are spherical. Particles have different chemical components and originate from various sources, many of them human-produced, like vehicle emissions and agricultural burning. Amounts also vary widely by location and season.” Particulate matter air pollution is complex, consisting of various sizes and types, and resulting in differing health effects. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Traditionally, scientists have used monitoring instruments on the ground to accurately measure air pollution exposure. One kind uses filters to capture airborne particles that are weighed and analyzed in a lab to calculate the amount of various particles. Other instruments use scattering of light or absorption of electrons to generate real-time estimates of particle mass concentration. Because PM changes from place to place, a dense array of monitors would be needed to adequately sample an entire city. MAIA: Getting the Big Picture on Air Pollution Enter MAIA. From space, MAIA will acquire data that will be used to generate PM air pollution maps in a globally distributed set of target areas. Epidemiologists – public health professionals who study the causes, distribution, and frequency of disease in human populations – will use the maps to conduct health studies to determine which types and sources of PM are most harmful. MAIA is the primary instrument aboard the Orbital Test Bed (OTB)-2 commercial host satellite. Credit: General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Diner says there’s a growing realization among scientists of the value satellite data bring to the table for studying air pollution. “The obvious way to monitor aerosols near the ground is to install sensors, collect particles and measure their properties,” he said. “That can quickly become daunting due to costs and logistical complexities, especially in the developing world. In contrast, a satellite can image areas around the world and fill in coverage gaps, but satellite aerosol data only provide indirect inferences about particle composition.” To determine the concentrations and chemical composition of these tiny particles, MAIA satellite data will be combined with data from ground instruments and computer models of how chemicals are formed and transported in the atmosphere. “This complementarity gives the investigation its strength,” Diner added. "A unique aspect of MAIA is the integration of the experiences and expectations of the public health community who will use the data into the mission's DNA from the outset," said Yang Liu, a professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta and a MAIA science team member. "Combining data from the satellite instrument and various ground sensor networks with atmospheric chemistry and statistical models, and generating simulated data prior to launch to engage the user community, will enable a smooth transition from data to applications and maximize MAIA’s societal benefits." MAIA Health Studies Among the methodologies MAIA epidemiologists will use to study the effects of particulate matter pollution measured by the MAIA instrument on human health are time series and cohort studies. In time-series studies, daily death and hospitalization records in a particular city or urban area are used and their relationships with short-term (single- or multi-day) air pollution concentrations are investigated. Cohort studies examine the impacts of long-term (one-year or longer) exposure to air pollution on health, and the health of a large group of people is tracked for several years. In designing these studies, epidemiologists must account for extraneous variables that could also cause people to contract the diseases under investigation and potentially bias their study results. After accounting for such "confounding factors" (examples of which include family history and smoking) scientists can calculate the impact of air pollution on a person’s risk of disease. MAIA researchers will conduct different epidemiological studies in its primary target areas, depending on the type of health records available, what studies have been done in the past, and types of PM present. Three timescales of exposure will be studied: acute (short-term spikes in PM over a period of days to weeks), sub-chronic (moderate duration, focusing on exposure to PM by expectant mothers), and chronic (health impacts resulting from the accumulated effects of PM exposures over many years). “More diseases are being associated with particulate matter exposure,” said Diner. “For example, scientists are finding connections between particulate exposure and neurological disorders, such as cognitive impairment. There’s a broad range of health outcomes people are interested in studying, and many will be driven by the sources of health data our team acquires.” A Heritage of Space-based and Airborne Aerosol Measurements MAIA’s heritage includes numerous space missions and instruments, including the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on NASA’s Terra satellite, for which Diner is also principal investigator. Launched in 1999, MISR views Earth from nine different angles, giving scientists a better picture of Earth’s climate, including aerosols, cloud forms, and land surface covers. MISR data contributed to this global satellite-derived map of PM2.5 averaged over 2001-2006. Credit: A. van Donkelaar et al. (2010). Environ. Health Perspect. 118, 847–855. “MISR demonstrated new methods of using multi-angle satellite imagery to characterize airborne particles,” Diner said. That work led to collaborations with scientists using MISR data to study links between PM and human health. “Subsequent to the launch of MISR, we obtained funding from NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office to develop technologies that expand our ability to characterize aerosols.” The Airborne Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Imager (AirMSPI) instrument and second-generation AirMSPI-2 are the result of these efforts and have prototyped several key technologies used in MAIA. MAIA: A Targeted Investigation of Major Cities While MAIA’s orbit will take it over much of the world, practical considerations limit data collection to several dozen target areas, each measuring about 147,000 square kilometers (nearly 57,000 square miles), or roughly the area of Southern California. From this set, MAIA epidemiologists will focus their health studies on a dozen primary target areas containing highly populated cities: Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Boston in the U.S.; Barcelona, Spain; Rome, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; Johannesburg, South Africa; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Delhi, India; Beijing, China; Taipei, Taiwan; and Seoul, South Korea. Primary target areas were selected based on various criteria, including population, variability in the amounts and types of PM present, cloudiness, how well monitored the area is by ground instruments, and access to public health records. Particle measurements will also be recorded in more than 20 secondary target areas, including Mexico City, Mexico; Santiago, Chile; Accra, Ghana; Nairobi, Kenya; and Bangkok, Thailand. MAIA health studies will focus on a dozen primary target areas in major urban centers around the world. In addition, the instrument will collect science measurements in more than 20 secondary target areas along with calibration/validation measurements to maintain data product accuracy throughout the mission. Details of target of locations are subject to update. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech MAIA measurements will be particularly useful in very large metropolitan areas and cities in countries that have not had the resources to measure particulate pollution, said MAIA science team member Bart Ostro, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis, and former chief of air pollution epidemiology at the California Environmental Protection Agency. “Providing data to help identify specific particle sources can help decision makers prioritize control strategies and reduce costs,” he said. The Science Behind MAIA’s Measurements The MAIA instrument. The gimbal enables the camera to move in both the along-track and cross track directions. Photoelastic modulators (PEMs) are used as part of the polarization measurement system incorporated into the camera. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech To distinguish aerosol particle types, MAIA’s specialized digital camera will capture sunlight reflecting off Earth and its atmosphere. MAIA’s coated and polished aluminum mirrors allow the camera to record light in 14 spectral bands, many more wavelengths than a typical digital camera, allowing it to capture visible light as well as ultraviolet, near-infrared, and shortwave-infrared. These wavelengths are needed because tiny particles tend to scatter light most efficiently at wavelengths similar to their own size. Shorter-wavelength visible spectral bands provide information on the smallest particles (PM2.5 and smaller), while shortwave-infrared bands provide information on larger aerosol types, like dust and volcanic ash. Ultraviolet wavelengths are sensitive to absorption of sunlight by particles containing certain mineral and organic matter types. MAIA’s specialized digital camera will capture sunlight reflecting off Earth and its atmosphere in 14 spectral bands, allowing it to capture visible light as well as ultraviolet, near-infrared, and shortwave-infrared. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech While a regular digital camera captures images using a rectangular array of detectors (pixels), MAIA’s detectors are arranged in individual rows, a type of detector known as a pushbroom imager. As MAIA flies over Earth, the satellite’s motion pushes the rows of detectors over the area like a broom across a floor. Since the satellite is traveling at about 25,000 kilometers (15,500 miles) per hour, each exposure must be very rapid. As MAIA flies over Earth, the satellite’s motion pushes its rows of detectors over the area like a broom across a floor. An onboard mechanism points its camera over a ground target several times during each overpass, enabling the target to be imaged from different angles. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Observing the atmosphere at multiple angles from a spacecraft makes aerosols stand out more prominently against the surface background and tells us about their size and shape. MAIA’s camera is mounted on a support that rotates 60 degrees forward and backward. As the instrument flies over a target, a mechanism points the camera at it several times, capturing images in succession from different angles. The camera also points left and right, allowing it to see targets even when they’re not directly underneath the satellite. This allows the primary target areas to be observed three to four times each week. Sunlight becomes polarized (that is, the light waves have a preferred plane of vibration) when scattered by airborne particles. By placing polarizing filters above its camera’s detectors and using a specialized device called a polarization modulator, the MAIA instrument can accurately measure the degree to which incoming light is polarized by atmospheric particles. This provides additional information about particle sizes and shapes. MAIA is the primary instrument aboard its commercial host satellite, Orbital Test Bed (OTB)-2, provided by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems. OTB-2’s 740-kilometer low-Earth polar orbit is “Sun-synchronous,” meaning every time it crosses the equator (about every 100 minutes), the local time is the same. This allows MAIA to see each target city at approximately the same time of day (mid-morning). The Doctor is IN: MAIA’s Diverse Team MAIA unites experts from around the world. In addition to scientists, engineers and technicians at JPL and other NASA centers, the MAIA science team consists of investigators from other U.S. and international institutions, including universities and government agencies. Among them, the U.S. Department of State is providing logistical support for deploying MAIA’s surface monitor equipment around the world, and the U.S. Agency for International Development is providing financial support to analyze surface monitor data and conduct capacity building activities in Africa. Many other partners are assisting in operating ground instruments and planning health effects studies. Five of MAIA’s co-investigators are practicing epidemiologists. Diner says working with them has been a fascinating experience. “Our team is diverse, so we had to learn how to communicate with each other and understand everyone’s roles,” he said. “Epidemiology is complex and relies on statistics developed over long time periods. I don’t pretend to understand everything about their methodologies, but I’ve learned a lot. In return, we’ve hopefully given them an appreciation for how to go about designing a satellite mission from the ground up. It’s a different world than they’ve been involved in before.” Uses of MAIA Data MAIA will produce free, publicly available maps of PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations for each primary target area. The PM2.5 maps will be partitioned into several key chemical constituents: sulfate, nitrate, organic carbon, elemental carbon, and dust. MAIA epidemiologists will use these maps in conjunction with health records to explore statistical linkages. Results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Ground data processing will convert the satellite instrument’s raw data into calibrated measurements in each of MAIA’s 14 spectral bands, calculate aerosol optical depth and other optical and physical characteristics of the pollution, and then convert those data into concentrations of different types of particulate matter. To fill in data gaps, the satellite data will be combined with data from atmospheric models and surface monitors to produce daily maps of particulate matter concentrations. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In addition to epidemiological studies, MAIA data will support other applications, including evaluations of the impact of PM pollution on natural and human environments, information for air quality regulators and policymakers, and research into aerosol and cloud interactions with Earth’s climate. Small Mission, Big Contributions Ultimately, Diner says MAIA will give scientists, the medical community and decision makers who regulate air quality new information that can enable cleaner air, improved public health and cost savings. “It’s my hope MAIA will help trace particulate pollution to its sources, providing the public health and regulatory communities data they need to control particle emissions,” he said. “It’s satisfying being part of something that could contribute to reducing the burdens of disease on society.”
  • NASA Supercomputing Study Breaks Ground for Tree Mapping, Carbon Research
    Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and international collaborators demonstrated a new method for mapping the location and size of trees growing outside of forests, discovering billions of trees in arid and semi-arid regions and laying the groundwork for more accurate global measurement of carbon storage on land. Using powerful supercomputers and machine learning algorithms, the team mapped the crown diameter – the width of a tree when viewed from above – of more than 1.8 billion trees across an area of more than 500,000 square miles, or 1,300,000 square kilometers. The team mapped how tree crown diameter, coverage, and density varied depending on rainfall and land use. Mapping non-forest trees at this level of detail would take months or years with traditional analysis methods, the team said, compared to a few weeks for this study. The use of very high-resolution imagery and powerful artificial intelligence represents a technology breakthrough for mapping and measuring these trees. This study is intended to be the first in a series of papers whose goal is not only to map non-forest trees across a wide area, but also to calculate how much carbon they store – vital information for understanding the Earth’s carbon cycle and how it is changing over time. Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and international collaborators demonstrated a new method for mapping the location and size of trees growing outside of forests, discovering surprisingly high numbers of trees in semi-arid regions and laying the groundwork for more accurate global measurement of carbon storage on land. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Download this video in HD formats from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio. Measuring Carbon in Trees Carbon is one of the primary building blocks for all life on Earth, and this element circulates among the land, atmosphere, and oceans via the carbon cycle. Some natural processes and human activities release carbon into the atmosphere, while other processes draw it out of the atmosphere and store it on land or in the ocean. Trees and other green vegetation are carbon “sinks,” meaning they use carbon for growth and store it out of the atmosphere in their trunks, branches, leaves and roots. Human activities, like burning trees and fossil fuels or clearing forested land, release carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, and rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are a main cause of climate change. Conservation experts working to mitigate climate change and other environmental threats have targeted deforestation for years, but these efforts do not always include trees that grow outside forests, said Compton Tucker, senior biospheric scientist in the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Goddard. Not only could these trees be significant carbon sinks, but they also contribute to the ecosystems and economies of nearby human, animal and plant populations. However, many current methods for studying trees’ carbon content only include forests, not trees that grow individually or in small clusters. The team focused on the dryland regions of West Africa, including the arid south side of the Sahara Desert, stretching through the semi-arid Sahel Zone and into the humid sub-tropics. By studying a variety of landscapes from few trees to nearly forested conditions, the team trained their computing algorithms to recognize trees across diverse terrain types, from deserts in the north to tree savannas in the south. › Full image and caption Tucker and his NASA colleagues, together with an international team, used commercial satellite images from DigitalGlobe, which were high-resolution enough to spot individual trees and measure their crown size. The images came from the commercial QuickBird-2, GeoEye-1, WorldView-2, and WorldView-3 satellites. The team focused on the dryland regions – areas that receive less precipitation than what evaporates from plants each year – including the arid south side of the Sahara Desert, that stretches through the semi-arid Sahel Zone and into the humid sub-tropics of West Africa. By studying a variety of landscapes from few trees to nearly forested conditions, the team trained their computing algorithms to recognize trees across diverse terrain types, from deserts in the north to tree savannas in the south. Learning on the Job The team ran a powerful computing algorithm called a fully convolutional neural network (“deep learning”) on the University of Illinois’ Blue Waters, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers. The team trained the model by manually marking nearly 90,000 individual trees across a variety of terrain, then allowing it to “learn” which shapes and shadows indicated the presence of trees. The process of coding the training data took more than a year, said Martin Brandt, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Copenhagen and the study’s lead author. Brandt marked all 89,899 trees by himself and helped supervise training and running the model. Ankit Kariryaa of the University of Bremen led the development of the deep learning computer processing. “In one kilometer of terrain, say it’s a desert, many times there are no trees, but the program wants to find a tree,” Brandt said. “It will find a stone, and think it’s a tree. Further south, it will find houses that look like trees. It sounds easy, you’d think – there’s a tree, why shouldn’t the model know it’s a tree? But the challenges come with this level of detail. The more detail there is, the more challenges come.” Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Establishing an accurate count of trees in this area provides vital information for researchers, policymakers and conservationists. Additionally, measuring how tree size and density vary by rainfall – with wetter and more populated regions supporting more and larger trees – provides important data for on-the-ground conservation efforts. “There are important ecological processes, not only inside, but outside forests too,” said Jesse Meyer, a programmer at NASA Goddard who led the processing on Blue Waters. “For preservation, restoration, climate change, and other purposes, data like these are very important to establish a baseline. In a year or two or ten, the study could be repeated with new data and compared to data from today, to see if efforts to revitalize and reduce deforestation are effective or not. It has quite practical implications.” After gauging the program’s accuracy by comparing it to both manually coded data and field data from the region, the team ran the program across the full study area. The neural network identified more than 1.8 billion trees – surprising numbers for a region often assumed to support little vegetation, said Meyer and Tucker. “Future papers in the series will build on the foundation of counting trees, extend the areas studied, and look ways to calculate their carbon content,” said Tucker. NASA missions like the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation mission, or GEDI, and ICESat-2, or the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2, are already collecting data that will be used to measure the height and biomass of forests. In the future, combining these data sources with the power of artificial intelligence could open up new research possibilities. “Our objective is to see how much carbon is in isolated trees in the vast arid and semi-arid portions of the world,” Tucker said. “Then we need to understand the mechanism which drives carbon storage in arid and semi-arid areas. Perhaps this information can be utilized to store more carbon in vegetation by taking more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.” “From a carbon cycle perspective, these dry areas are not well mapped, in terms of what density of trees and carbon is there,” Brandt said. “It’s a white area on maps. These dry areas are basically masked out. This is because normal satellites just don’t see the trees – they see a forest, but if the tree is isolated, they can’t see it. Now we’re on the way to filling these white spots on the maps. And that’s quite exciting.” Related link Study article in journal Nature
  • U.S.-European Sea Level Satellite Gears Up for Launch
    if (typeof captions == 'undefined'){ var captions = []; } captions.push("This animation shows the radar pulse from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite's altimeter bouncing off the sea surface in order to measure the height of the ocean. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Larger view") captions.push("The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite undergoes final preparations in a clean room at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for an early November launch. Image Credit: ESA/Bill Simpson › 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_7693' , homepage_slider_options); if (type == "news"){ slider.api.addEventListener(MSSliderEvent.CHANGE_START , function(){ $('.slider_caption').html(captions[slider.api.index()]); }); } }); Preparations are ramping up for the Nov. 10 launch of the world's latest sea level satellite. Since arriving in a giant cargo plane at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last month, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has been undergoing final checks, including visual inspections, to make sure it's fit to head into orbit. Surviving the bone-rattling vibrations and sounds of launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket is just the start of the mission. Once in orbit some 830 miles (1,336 kilometers) above Earth, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has the task of collecting sea level measurements with an accuracy of a few centimeters (for a single measurement) for more than 90% of the world's oceans. And it will be making those measurements while repeatedly flying through an area of intense radiation known as the South Atlantic Anomaly, which can scramble electronics. That's why engineers and researchers have put Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich through a battery of tests to ensure that the spacecraft will survive launch and the harsh environment of space. But how will the mission pull the rest of it off? With sophisticated instruments, global navigation satellites, and lasers - lots of lasers. They'll all work in concert to enable the spacecraft to carry out its task of observing the ocean. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Given the challenges and goals of the mission, the satellite's moniker is appropriate: It's named after noted researcher Dr. Michael Freilich, the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division. A second spacecraft identical to Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, Sentinel-6B, will launch in 2025 to continue the work after its sibling's five-and-a-half-year prime mission ends. Together, the satellites make up the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, which is a partnership between NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Collectively, the satellites will add a decade's worth of the most accurate satellite data yet on ocean height to a nearly 30-year record documenting how our oceans are rising in response to climate change. Both spacecraft will also collect data on atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help to improve weather forecasts as well as atmospheric and climate models. This is where those sophisticated instruments, global navigation satellites, and lasers come in. How It Works To accurately measure extremely small variations in sea level, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will rely on a suite of three instruments that provide scientists information to determine the spacecraft's exact position in orbit. One component of this positioning package is the laser retroreflector array, a set of nine small, precisely shaped mirrors. Lasers are directed at them from ground stations on Earth, and they reflect the (harmless) beams right back to their point of origin. These laser-emitting ranging stations, as they're known, calculate how long the laser takes to bounce off the reflectors and return, which gives the distance between the satellite and the station. Another instrument, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Precise Orbit Determination (GNSS-POD), tracks GPS and Galileo navigation signals. Researchers analyze these signals to help determine the satellite's position. The third instrument in the positioning package is the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS). It analyzes radio signals from 55 global ground stations, measuring the Doppler shift of the radio signals' frequencies to determine the 3D position of the satellite over time. When used together, these instruments provide the data needed to ascertain the precise position of the satellite, which in turn helps to determine the height of the sea surface. On the science side are two instruments that work in concert to determine sea level and a third that collects atmospheric data. The Poseidon-4 radar altimeter measures ocean height by bouncing radar pulses off the water's surface and calculating the time it takes for the signal to return to the satellite. However, water vapor in the atmosphere affects the propagation of the radar pulses from the altimeter, which can make the ocean appear higher or lower than it actually is. To correct for this affect, an instrument called the Advanced Microwave Radiometer for Climate (AMR-C) measures the amount of water vapor between the spacecraft and the ocean. "AMR-C is the next generation of AMR instruments, and it includes new components that will enable more accurate measurements along coastlines and throughout the mission," said Shannon Statham, AMR-C integration and test lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. For information on the atmosphere, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) instrument gathers data on temperature and humidity that can help to improve weather forecasts. GNSS-RO analyzes radio signals from global navigational satellites as they appear and disappear beyond the limb of the Earth - the hazy blue edge of the atmosphere that's visible when you look at pictures of our planet in space. As these radio signals travel through different layers of the atmosphere, they bend and slow by varying degrees. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and satellites like it use GNSS-RO technology to measure these changes, enabling researchers to then extract atmospheric characteristics like temperature and humidity at different altitudes. All the instruments, power systems, telecommunications - everything that makes Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich tick - must work together to accomplish the mission's science goals, much like the international partners have worked together to get this satellite ready for launch. "Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is a great contribution to climate change, environment monitoring, and to the Digital Twin Earth. Sentinel-6 is a reference model of the cooperation between the U.S. and Europe on Earth Observation and represents a good foundation for future projects," said Josef Aschbacher, ESA director of Earth Observation Programmes. More About the Mission Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by ESA, EUMETSAT, NASA, and NOAA, with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, is contributing three science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich press kit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/sentinel-6/ To learn more about Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6 https://www.esa.int/Sentinel-6 https://www.copernicus.eu/en/documentation/information-material/general-factsheets 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
  • Prior Weather Linked to Rapid Intensification of Hurricanes Near Landfall
    if (typeof captions == 'undefined'){ var captions = []; } captions.push("Hurricane Michael was captured from the International Space Station on Oct. 10, 2018, after the storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane over the Florida Panhandle. The National Hurricane Center reported maximum sustained winds near 145 mph (233 kph) with the potential to bring dangerous storm surge and heavy rains to the Florida Panhandle. Credit: NASA › Full image and caption") captions.push("NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured this image of Hurricane Michael as it came ashore near Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018. Credit: NOAA › Larger view") captions.push("A buoy marks the West End CP mooring site south of Dauphin Island, Alabama, in the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of many stations that collect data on ocean conditions like temperature and salinity. Credit: University of South Alabama/DISL › 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_4974' , homepage_slider_options); if (type == "news"){ slider.api.addEventListener(MSSliderEvent.CHANGE_START , function(){ $('.slider_caption').html(captions[slider.api.index()]); }); } }); Although most hurricanes tend to weaken as they approach land, some rapidly increase in strength just prior to landfall - a phenomenon that is both dangerous and hard to forecast. As the climate continues to warm, the number of storms that fall into the latter category is likely to increase, presenting a stark reality for communities in their paths. Because current weather models can't accurately predict this sudden intensification, communities preparing for a lesser storm often don't have time to respond to the arrival of a much stronger one or to the magnitude of destruction it is likely to leave behind. The good news? The results of a new study published in September in Nature Communications identify pre-storm conditions that can contribute to this rapid intensification - an important step in improving our ability to forecast it. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » "We analyzed the events that led up to Hurricane Michael in 2018 and found that the storm was preceded by a marine heat wave, an area of the coastal ocean water that had become abnormally warm," said Severine Fournier, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist and a co-author of the study. "Marine heat waves like this one can form in areas that have experienced back-to-back severe weather events in a short period of time." In October 2018, Hurricane Michael intensified from a Category 2 to a Category 5 storm the day before it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Michael is the most intense storm on record to hit the area, having left some $25 billion in damage in its wake. Using a combination of data gathered from weather buoys and satellites, the science team behind the study examined ocean conditions before, during, and after the hurricane. This map of the Gulf of Mexico shows areas with unusually high sea surface temperatures before Hurricane Michael. The area from land down to the green line, and the small, enclosed areas below the green line experienced an extreme ocean heat wave in this period. The smaller circles show the path of Tropical Storm Gordon (TS), which preceded Michael; larger, darker circles show Michael's track and intensification. The legend's first four icons mark data stations. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of South Alabama/DISL › Larger view About a month before the hurricane arrived, Tropical Storm Gordon moved through the Gulf of Mexico. Under normal circumstances, a tropical storm or hurricane - Gordon, in this case - mixes the ocean water over which it travels, bringing up the cold water that is deeper in the water column to the surface and pushing the warm surface water down toward the bottom. This newly present colder water at the surface typically causes the storm to weaken. But Tropical Storm Gordon was immediately followed by a severe atmospheric heat wave during which the warm air heated the cooler ocean water that had recently been brought to the surface. This, combined with the warm water that Gordon had pushed down through the water column, ultimately produced plenty of warm-water fuel for an incoming hurricane. "In that situation, basically the whole water column was made up of warm water," said Fournier. "So when the second storm - Hurricane Michael - moved in, the water it brought up during mixing was warm just like the surface water being pushed down. Hurricanes feed off the heat of the ocean, so this sequence of weather events created conditions that were ideal for hurricane intensification." Although the study focuses in-depth on Hurricane Michael, the scientists note that the pattern of weather events leading up to a major storm - and the resulting storm intensification - doesn't appear to be unique to Michael. "Both Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Sally, which impacted the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2020, appeared to have similar setups to Michael, with both storms being preceded by smaller storms [Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Marco, respectively]," said lead author Brian Dzwonkowski of the University of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab. "Combined with warmer-than-average summer conditions in the region, this pre-storm setup of the oceanic environment likely contributed to those intensifications prior to landfall as well." NASA scientists have been tackling the question of what causes hurricanes to intensify rapidly just before landfall from multiple angles. Another recent study led by JPL's Hui Su found that other factors, including the rainfall rate inside a hurricane, are also good indicators that can help forecast if and how much a hurricane is likely to intensify in the hours that follow. Both studies bring us closer to understanding and being better able to forecast rapid intensification of hurricanes near landfall. 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
  • Watch Virtual Briefing on Launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Satellite
    The U.S.-European partnership will track sea level height. Learn more about the mission in this live event. Officials from NASA and partner agencies will discuss the upcoming launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean-monitoring satellite during a media briefing at 10 a.m. EDT (7 a.m. PDT), Friday, Oct. 16. The launch is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10. The media briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website, as well as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The spacecraft is named in honor of Michael Freilich, the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division and tireless advocate for advancing satellite measurements of the ocean. After launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California and once in orbit, the satellite will collect sea level measurements down to a few centimeters across 90% of the world's ocean. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the first of two Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) satellites launching five years apart and will extend a nearly 30-year dataset of ocean data. The mission is being developed jointly by ESA (European Space Agency) in the context of the European Copernicus program led by the European Commission, 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 contributions from France's space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales. Briefing participants, in speaking order, are: Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington Pierre Delsaux, deputy director general for space, European Commission in Brussels Josef Aschbacher, director for Earth Observation Programmes at ESA, from the ESA Centre for Earth Observation in Frascati, Italy Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington Alain Ratier, director-general of EUMETSAT in Darmstadt, Germany Parag Vaze, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California Nadya Vinogradova-Shiffer, program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington Tim Dunn, launch director for NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida The public may ask questions using the hashtag #SeeingTheSeas on social media during the briefing. To learn more about NASA's study of sea level rise, visit: https://sealevel.nasa.gov For more information about Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6
  • Meet the People Behind the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Spacecraft
    if (typeof captions == 'undefined'){ var captions = []; } captions.push("The new 'Behind the Spacecraft' video series about the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite features NASA-JPL scientists and engineers working on the mission. Clockwise from top left: Severine Fournier, Shailen Desai, Ben Hamlington, Shannon Statham, and Parag Vaze. Credits: NASA 360 › Larger view") captions.push("In this illustration, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft - the world's latest sea-level satellite - is in space with its deployable solar panels extended. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Full image and caption") $(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_1626' , homepage_slider_options); if (type == "news"){ slider.api.addEventListener(MSSliderEvent.CHANGE_START , function(){ $('.slider_caption').html(captions[slider.api.index()]); }); } }); The world's latest ocean-monitoring satellite is being readied for its Nov. 10 launch from California, and there's a new video series that focuses on some of the many people behind the mission. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will ensure continuity of the Jason series of operational missions, better our understanding of our rising seas, and help shape the future of sea-level studies. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Designed to collect the most accurate satellite data for our ongoing measurements of global sea level and help us understand how our oceans are responding to climate change. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the product of a partnership between NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Our planet is changing. Our ocean is rising. And it affects us all. That's why a new international satellite will continue the decades-long watch over our global ocean and help us better understand how climate change is reshaping our planet. Meet some of the talented people behind Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and get to know the satellite. Our planet is changing. Our ocean is rising. And it affects us all. That's why a new international satellite will continue the decades-long watch over our global ocean and help us better understand how climate change is reshaping our planet. Meet some of the talented people behind Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and get to know the satellite. With the new video series "Behind the Spacecraft," you can learn about some of engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who helped build instruments for the satellite, as well as scientists who will use the sea level and atmospheric data it collects: Ben Hamlington has pondered how our planet works since he was a kid. Having witnessed the impacts of rising sea levels while living near the ocean, Ben is driven to use satellite observations to help support communities that are most at risk from the effects of sea level rise. Shailen Desai loves data. As a measurement system engineer for Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, he will use the satellite's data to help us understand how the ocean affects everyone - including people in landlocked countries like his native Zimbabwe. Parag Vaze's childhood dream was to work in the space industry and make a difference in the world. Having worked on sea level satellites over three decades, the project manager for the Sentinel-6 mission feels a personal satisfaction seeing the latest ocean monitoring satellite come to fruition. Severine Fournier is an oceanographer who will use the data from the mission to better understand how the ocean moves. She grew up in France and sees sea-level science as an international pursuit, in which the observations made by satellites can give us a unique - and global - perspective. Shannon Statham helped build and test the spacecraft's microwave radiometer, which will help provide precise measurements of the world's ocean surface. But it's not just the hardware that's important for this mission; Shannon also believes a little creativity goes a long way in answering some of the biggest science questions. Produced by NASA 360 Productions, the full video series can be watched here. JPL will also be hosting live chats with these team members at youtube.com/NASAJPL/ on Wednesdays, starting with Ben Hamlington on Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. PDT (5 p.m. EDT). Questions can be submitted via social media using the #SeeingTheSeas hashtag or in the comments of the YouTube and Facebook livestreams. More About the Mission Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management. The spacecraft is named after Dr. Michael Freilich, the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division and a tireless advocate for advancing satellite measurements of the ocean. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is one of two identical spacecraft that compose the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission developed in partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency). The spacecraft's twin, Sentinel-6B, will launch in 2025. Other partners include the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, is contributing three science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA 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 science, visit: https://sealevel.nasa.gov For more information about Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6 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
  • 5 Things to Know About the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Mission
    On Nov. 10, the world's latest Earth-observing satellite will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. As a historic U.S.-European partnership, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will begin a five-and-a-half-year prime mission to collect the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how our oceans are rising in response to climate change. The mission will also collect precise data of atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help improve weather forecasts and climate models. The spacecraft is named after Dr. Michael Freilich, the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division and a tireless advocate for advancing satellite measurements of the ocean. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich builds on the heritage of the ESA (European Space Agency) Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission as well as the heritage and legacy of the U.S.-European TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, 2, and 3 series of sea level observation satellites. Launched in 2016, Jason-3 is currently providing data initiated with the observations of TOPEX/Poseidon in 1992. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The data from these satellites has become the gold standard for sea level studies from space over the past 30 years. In 2025, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich's twin, Sentinel-6B, is scheduled to launch and advance these measurements for at least another half decade. "This continuous record of observations is essential for tracking sea level rise and understanding the factors that contribute to it," said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth Science Division. "With Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, we ensure those measurements advance both in number and in precision. This mission honors an exceptional scientist and leader, and it will continue Mike's legacy of advances in ocean studies." So how will Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich further our ocean and climate knowledge? Here are five things you should know: 1. The spacecraft will provide information that will help researchers understand how climate change is reshaping Earth's coastlines - and how fast this is happening. Earth's oceans and atmosphere are inextricably connected. The sea absorbs more than 90% of the heat trapped by rising greenhouse gases, which causes seawater to expand. This expansion accounts for about one-third of modern-day sea level rise, while meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets accounts for the rest. The joint U.S.-European Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the next in a line of Earth-observing satellites that will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level and how it changes over time. With millimeter-scale precision, data from this mission will allow scientists to precisely measure sea surface height and gauge how quickly our oceans are rising. Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech/NOAA The joint U.S.-European Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the next in a line of Earth-observing satellites that will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level and how it changes over time. With millimeter-scale precision, data from this mission will allow scientists to precisely measure sea surface height and gauge how quickly our oceans are rising. Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech/NOAA The rate at which the oceans are rising has accelerated over the past two decades, and scientists expect it to speed up more in the years to come. Sea level rise will change coastlines and increase flooding from tides and storms. To better understand how rising seas will impact humanity, researchers need long climate records - something Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will help provide. "Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is a milestone for sea level measurements," said Project Scientist Josh Willis of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages NASA's contributions to the mission. "It's the first time we've been able to develop multiple satellites that span a complete decade, recognizing that climate change and rising seas are here to stay." 2. The satellite will see things that previous sea level missions couldn't. In monitoring global sea levels since 2001, the Jason series of satellites have been able to track large ocean features like the Gulf Stream and weather phenomena like El Niño and La Niña that stretch over thousands of miles. However, measuring smaller sea level variations near coastlines, which can affect ship navigation and commercial fishing, has been beyond their capabilities. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will collect measurements at higher resolution. What's more, it will include new technology in the Advanced Microwave Radiometer (AMR-C) instrument that, along with the mission's Poseidon-4 radar altimeter, will enable researchers to see these smaller, more complicated ocean features, especially near the coastlines. 3. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich builds upon a highly successful U.S.-European partnership. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the first NASA-ESA joint effort in an Earth science satellite mission, and it marks the first international involvement in Copernicus, the European Union's Earth Observation Programme. It continues a decades-long tradition of cooperation between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and European partners, including ESA, the intergovernmental European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). These international collaborations enable access to a larger pool of resources and scientific expertise than would be available otherwise. Researchers have published thousands of scientific papers using the sea level data collected by the series of U.S.-European satellite missions that began with the 1992 launch of TOPEX/Poseidon. 4. By expanding the global atmospheric temperature data record, the mission will help researchers better understand how Earth's climate is changing. Climate change doesn't just affect Earth's oceans and surface; it impacts all levels of the atmosphere, from the troposphere to the stratosphere. A science instrument on Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich uses a technique called radio occultation to measure the physical properties of Earth's atmosphere. The Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) instrument tracks radio signals from navigation satellites that orbit Earth. When a satellite dips below (or rises above) the horizon from Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich's perspective, its radio signal passes through the atmosphere. As it does, the signal slows, its frequency changes, and its path bends. Called refraction, this effect can be used by scientists to measure minute changes in atmospheric density, temperature, and moisture content. When researchers add this information to existing data from similar instruments currently in space, they'll be able to better understand how Earth's climate is changing over time. "Like the long-term measurements of sea level, we also need long-term measurements of our changing atmosphere to better understand the full impacts of climate change," said Chi Ao, the GNSS-RO instrument scientist at JPL. "Radio occultation is a wonderfully precise and accurate way to do that." 5. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will help to improve weather forecasts by providing meteorologists information on atmospheric temperature and humidity. The satellite's radar altimeter will collect measurements of sea surface conditions, including significant wave heights, and data collected by the GNSS-RO instrument will complement existing observations of the atmosphere. These combined measurements will give meteorologists further insights to improve weather forecasts. Moreover, information on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere, as well as the temperature of the upper layer of the ocean, will help to improve models that track the formation and evolution of hurricanes. More About the Mission The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite pair is being jointly developed by ESA, EUMETSAT, NASA, and NOAA, with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from CNES. NASA JPL developed three science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the AMR-C, the GNSS-RO, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA 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 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
  • New Sea Level Satellite Arrives at California Launch Site
    The world's latest ocean-monitoring satellite has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California to be prepared for its Nov. 10 launch. The product of a historic U.S.-European partnership, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft touched down at Vandenberg in an Antonov 124 aircraft at around 10:40 a.m. PDT (1:40 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 24 after a two-day journey from an IABG engineering facility near Munich, Germany. "The spacecraft had a smooth trip from Europe and is in good shape," said Parag Vaze, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "Final preparations are under way to see the satellite safely into Earth orbit in a little under seven weeks." The satellite is named after Dr. Michael Freilich, the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division and an instrumental figure in advancing ocean observations from space. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is one of two identical spacecraft that compose the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission developed in partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency). ESA is developing the new Sentinel family of missions to support the operational needs of the European Union's Copernicus program, the EU's Earth observation program managed by the European Commission. The spacecraft's twin, Sentinel-6B, will launch in 2025. "It has been a long journey of planning, development, and testing for the mission team," said Pierrik Vuilleumier, the mission's project manager at ESA. "We are proud to work with our international partners on such a critical mission for sea level studies and are looking forward to many years of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich taking critical sea level and atmospheric data from orbit." A shipping container containing the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is removed from an Antonov 124 aircraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 24, 2020, after its two-day journey from an IABG engineering facility near Munich, Germany. Credit: 30th Space Wing Once in orbit, each satellite will collect sea surface height measurements down to the centimeter for more than 90% of the world's oceans. They'll be contributing to a nearly 30-year-long dataset built by an uninterrupted series of spacecraft that started with the TOPEX/Poseidon mission in the early 1990s and that continues today with Jason-3. Instruments aboard the spacecraft will also provide atmospheric data that will improve weather forecasts, help to track hurricanes, and bolster climate models. Although Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has already undergone rigorous testing, it will go through a final checkout at the SpaceX payload processing facility at Vandenberg to verify that the satellite is healthy and ready for launch. Once tests are complete, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will be mounted atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 4E. The launch is scheduled for 11:31 a.m. PST (2:31 p.m. EST) on Nov. 10. "The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will extend our observation record of global sea level, advance our understanding of the Earth as a system, and inform decision-makers, from federal to local levels, who must manage the risks associated with rising sea level," said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by ESA, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, is contributing three science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA 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 science, visit: https://sealevel.nasa.gov 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
  • Warming Temperatures Are Driving Arctic Greening
    As Arctic summers warm, Earth’s northern landscapes are changing. Using satellite images to track global tundra ecosystems over decades, a new study found the region has become greener as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth. “The Arctic tundra is one of the coldest biomes on Earth, and it’s also one of the most rapidly warming,” said Logan Berner, a global change ecologist with Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who led the recent research. “This Arctic greening we see is really a bellwether of global climatic change – it’s a biome-scale response to rising air temperatures.” The study, published last week in Nature Communications, is the first to measure vegetation changes spanning the entire Arctic tundra, from Alaska and Canada to Siberia, using satellite data from Landsat, a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Other studies have used the satellite data to look at smaller regions, since Landsat data can be used to determine how much actively growing vegetation is on the ground. Greening can represent plants growing more, becoming denser, and/or shrubs encroaching on typical tundra grasses and moss. Data from NASA/USGS Landsat satellites show that during 1985-2016, vegetation in the arctic tundra of Canada, Alaska and western Eurasia showed a 38% increase in greenness – representing plants growing more, becoming denser, and/or shrubs encroaching on typical tundra grasses and moss. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Download video When the tundra vegetation changes, it impacts not only the wildlife that depend on certain plants, but also the people who live in the region and depend on local ecosystems for food. While active plants will absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, the warming temperatures could also be thawing permafrost, thereby releasing greenhouse gases. The research is part of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), which aims to better understand how ecosystems are responding in these warming environments and the broader social implications. Berner and his colleagues used the Landsat data and additional calculations to estimate the peak greenness for a given year for each of 50,000 randomly selected sites across the tundra. Between 1985 and 2016, about 38% of the tundra sites across Alaska, Canada, and western Eurasia showed greening. Only 3% showed the opposite browning effect, which would mean fewer actively growing plants. To include eastern Eurasian sites, they compared data starting in 2000, when Landsat satellites began regularly collecting images of that region. With this global view, 22% of sites greened between 2000 and 2016, while 4% browned. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » “Whether it’s since 1985 or 2000, we see this greening of the Arctic evident in the Landsat record,” Berner said. “And we see this biome-scale greening at the same time and over the same period as we see really rapid increases in summer air temperatures.” The researchers compared these greening patterns with other factors, and found that it’s also associated with higher soil temperatures and higher soil moisture. They confirmed these findings with plant growth measurements from field sites around the Arctic. “Landsat is key for these kinds of measurements because it gathers data on a much finer scale than what was previously used”, said Scott Goetz, a professor at Northern Arizona University who also worked on the study and leads the ABoVE Science Team. This allows the researchers to investigate what is driving the changes to the tundra. “There’s a lot of microscale variability in the Arctic, so it’s important to work at finer resolution while also having a long data record,” Goetz said. “That’s why Landsat is so valuable.”
  • US-Qatar Partnership Aims to Find Buried Water in Earth's Deserts
    Earth's driest ecosystems are a study in extremes: They can be blazingly hot stretches of sand like the Sahara Desert or shatteringly cold expanses of ice such as those in Greenland and Antarctica. These arid regions receive very little annual precipitation, and the effects of climate change in these ecosystems are poorly understood. A joint effort between NASA and the Qatar Foundation aims to address that - and, in the process, help communities that are being impacted by those changes. Researchers with the Orbiting Arid Subsurfaces and Ice Sheet Sounder (OASIS) study project are designing a satellite mission to probe the sand dunes and ice sheets of some of Earth's driest places with radar technology similar to that used by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The project's primary goal would be to discover and monitor underground sources of fresh water called aquifers. Many aquifers in the deserts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, among others, are being rapidly depleted to support the needs of local communities. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » At the same time, aquifers in coastal regions are being threatened by sea level rise caused by the melting of ice sheets in places like Greenland. If the salt water from rising seas contaminates the fresh water in aquifers, it would affect not only drinking water but also regional agriculture and food security. A secondary goal of the project is to gain a better understanding of how melting ice sheets contribute to rising seas. Under a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA and the Qatar Foundation (QF) for Science, Education & Community Development - represented by Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) at HBKU - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and QEERI will jointly formulate a mission concept study for Qatar's prospective OASIS mission. The OASIS project seeks to study freshwater aquifers in the desert as well as ice sheets in places like Greenland. This illustration shows what a satellite with a proposed radar instrument for the mission could look like. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Searching the Desert The project seeks to put a satellite in Earth orbit to map the distribution of shallow aquifers beneath the desert's surface in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Scientists plan to use the satellite's radar instrument to study how those aquifers originated and how groundwater moves beneath the deserts through a complex system of subsurface fractures that spread out like a spiderweb between aquifers. Data collected in the process would help with aquifer management. "The scientific community is excited about this mission. OASIS would be the first spaceborne radar specifically designed to detect directly subsurface water on Earth," said James Graf, director for Earth Science and Technology at JPL in Southern California. Project researchers also intend to study the topography of the land under ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to determine such properties as ice sheet thickness and the pathways by which ice flows to the ocean. This information could feed into models of current and future ice sheet responses to climate change, which would help researchers better understand ice sheet contributions to sea level rise. "Warm and cold deserts are responding to climatic changes by expanding and shrinking, respectively," said Essam Heggy, the OASIS principal investigator and chief scientist and research program director of the Earth Science Program at QEERI. "Studying the forces driving these transformations will give us insight into the evolution of deserts on Earth." In a decadal survey identifying Earth science areas of focus between 2017 and 2027, the National Academies of Sciences noted that gaining a better understanding of these arid regions was one of several priorities. "The 2017 National Academies Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space identified a need to understand aquifer dynamics and ice sheet contributions to sea level rise. The OASIS study project will explore a promising complementary observing approach that can contribute to our understanding about these two areas of Earth science research," said Gerald Bawden, NASA program scientist for the OASIS project. Signal Return Led by Artur Chmielewski, the OASIS study project manager at JPL, and Heggy, the project's team will design a spaceborne mission that uses radar technology similar to that developed for MRO to explore beneath the Martian surface. The instrument under consideration for the OASIS project, a 50 megahertz sounding radar, is expected to see through up to 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) of ice and nearly 330 feet (100 meters) of sand. The radar signal is sensitive to changes in the electrical properties beneath Earth's surface caused by rocks, sediments, waterlogged soils, ice, pools of water, and the like. Some of these substances absorb more of the signal than others. Researchers look at how much of the signal bounces back to the instrument, as well as how long the signal takes to return, in order to develop a picture of what a particular area looks like beneath the surface. In a 2011 proof-of-concept mission, researchers flew a helicopter over two well-known freshwater aquifers beneath Kuwait's deserts to ensure a radar sounding instrument could detect them. They conducted several similar flights over other deserts in Oman and Morocco. The OASIS study project will expand the scope of those initial efforts for a more global picture. "Water security is becoming a global issue for an increasing number of countries around the globe and beyond the so-called arid regions," said Marc Vermeersch, the executive director of the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute. "This project is pioneering the research in this field by providing Qatar - and the whole scientific community - an innovative tool that will bring key responses in the field, support the decision-making process in terms of water resources, and help identify pathways to secure access to water for populations. I am particularly glad and proud QEERI is teaming up with NASA for the sake of a better world, and for the advancement of science." Researchers and engineers on the OASIS study project will spend the next two years formulating the mission concept. To learn more about NASA's study of Earth's changing climate, visit: https://climate.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
  • 2020 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum at Second Lowest on Record
    This year’s Arctic sea ice cover shrank to the second lowest extent since modern record-keeping began in the late 1970s. An analysis of satellite data by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder shows that the 2020 minimum extent, which was likely reached on Sept. 15, measured 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers). In winter, frozen seawater covers almost the entire Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas. This sea ice undergoes seasonal patterns of change – thinning and shrinking during late spring and summer, and thickening and expanding during fall and winter. The extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic can impact local ecosystems, regional and global weather patterns, and ocean circulation. In the last two decades, the minimum extent of Arctic sea ice in the summer has dropped markedly. The lowest extent on record was set in 2012, and last year’s extent was tied for second – until this year’s. A Siberian heat wave in spring 2020 began this year’s Arctic sea ice melt season early, and with Arctic temperatures being 14 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (8 to 10 degrees Celsius) warmer than average, the ice extent kept declining. The 2020 minimum extent was 958,000 square miles (2.48 million square kilometers) below the 1981-2010 average of yearly minimum extents, and 2020 is only the second time on record that the minimum extent has fallen below 1.5 million square miles (4 million square kilometers). Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Arctic sea ice reached its annual summer minimum extent on Sept. 15, the second lowest minimum on record. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center “It was just really warm in the Arctic this year, and the melt seasons have been starting earlier and earlier,” said Nathan Kurtz, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The earlier the melt season starts, the more ice you generally lose.” Thin ice also melts quicker than thicker floes. Dramatic drops in sea ice extent in 2007 and 2012, along with generally declining summer extent, has led to fewer regions of thick, multi-year ice that has built up over multiple winters. In addition, a recent study showed that warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean, which is typically deep below the colder Arctic waters, is creeping up closer to the bottom of the sea ice and warming it from below. There are cascading effects in the Arctic, said Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC. Warmer ocean temperatures eat away at the thicker multiyear ice, and also result in thinner ice to start the spring melt season. Melt early in the season results in more open water, which absorbs heat from the Sun and increases water temperatures. “As the sea ice cover extent declines, what we’re seeing is we’re continuing to lose that multiyear ice,” Serreze said. “The ice is shrinking in the summer, but it’s also getting thinner. You’re losing extent, and you’re losing the thick ice as well. It’s a double whammy.” The second lowest extent of sea ice on record is just one of many signs of a warming climate in the north, he said, pointing to the Siberian heat waves, forest fires, hotter-than-average temperatures over the Central Arctic, and the thawing permafrost that led to a Russian fuel spill. Related link: https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2020/09/arctic-sea-ice-decline-stalls-out-at-second-lowest-minimum/
  • Emissions Could Add 15 Inches to Sea Level by 2100, NASA-led Study Finds
    An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean, and atmosphere scientists from three dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100. If greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could together contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise – and that’s beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate. Results from this effort are in line with projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2019 Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere. Meltwater from ice sheets contribute about a third of the total global sea level rise. The IPCC report projected that Greenland would contribute 3.1 to 10.6 inches (8 to 27 centimeters) to global sea level rise between 2000-2100 and Antarctica could contribute 1.2 to 11 inches (3 to 28 cm). These new results, published this week in a special issue of the journal The Cryosphere, come from the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6) led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The study is one of many efforts scientists are involved in to project the impact of a warming climate on melting ice sheets, understand its causes and track sea level rise. “One of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to how much sea level will rise in the future is how much the ice sheets will contribute,” said project leader and ice scientist Sophie Nowicki, now at the University at Buffalo, and formerly at NASA Goddard. “And how much the ice sheets contribute is really dependent on what the climate will do.” “The strength of ISMIP6 was to bring together most of the ice sheet modeling groups around the world, and then connect with other communities of ocean and atmospheric modelers as well, to better understand what could happen to the ice sheets,” said Heiko Goelzer, a scientist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, now at NORCE Norwegian Research Centre in Norway. Goelzer led the Greenland ice sheet ISMIP6 effort. Scenarios for Greenland, Antarctica With warming air temperatures melting the surface of the ice sheet, and with warming ocean temperatures causing ocean-terminating glaciers to retreat, Greenland’s ice sheet is a significant contributor to sea level rise. The ISMIP6 team investigated two different scenarios the IPCC has set for future climate to predict sea level rise between 2015 and 2100: one with carbon emissions increasing rapidly and another with lower emissions. In the high emissions scenario, they found that the Greenland ice sheet would lead to an additional global sea level rise of about 3.5 inches (9 cm) by 2100. In the lower emissions scenario, the loss from the ice sheet would raise global sea level by about 1.3 inches (3 cm). This is beyond what is already destined to be lost from the ice sheet due to warming temperatures between pre-industrial times and now; previous studies have estimated that "locked in" contribution to global sea level rise by 2100 to be about a quarter-inch (6 millimeters) for the Greenland ice sheet. The ISMIP6 team also analyzed the Antarctic ice sheet to understand how much ice melt from future climate change would add to sea level rise, beyond what recent warming temperatures have already put in motion. Ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet is more difficult to predict: In the west, warm ocean currents erode the bottom of large floating ice shelves, causing loss, while the vast East Antarctic ice sheet can gain mass, as warmer temperatures cause increased snowfall. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The results point to a greater range of possibilities, from ice sheet change that decreases sea level by 3.1 in (7.8 cm), to increasing it by 12 in (30 cm) by 2100, with different climate scenarios and climate model inputs. The regional projections show the greatest loss in West Antarctica, responsible for up to 7.1 in (18 cm) of sea level rise by 2100 in the warmest conditions, according to the research. “The Amundsen Sea region in West Antarctica and Wilkes Land in East Antarctica are the two regions most sensitive to warming ocean temperatures and changing currents, and will continue to lose large amounts of ice,” said Hélène Seroussi, an ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Seroussi led the Antarctic ice sheet modeling in the ISMIP6 effort. “With these new results, we can focus our efforts in the correct direction and know what needs to be worked on to continue improving the projections.” Different groups within the ISMIP6 community are working on various aspects of the ice sheet modeling effort. All are designed to better understand why the ice sheets are changing and to improve estimates of how much ice sheets will contribute to sea level rise. Other recent ISMIP6 studies include: How historical conditions and warming ocean temperatures that melt floating ice shelves from below play a significant role in Antarctic ice loss (Reese et al, 2020 How sudden and sustained collapse of the floating ice shelves impact the Antarctic ice sheet as a whole (Sun et al., 2020) How to convert large scale climate output into local conditions that ice sheet models can use (Barthel et al, 2020; Slater et al; 2019, 2020; Nowicki et al., 2020, and Jourdain et al., 2020) “It took over six years of workshops and teleconferences with scientists from around the world working on ice sheet, atmosphere, and ocean modeling to build a community that was able to ultimately improve our sea level rise projections,” Nowicki said. “The reason it worked is because the polar community is small, and we’re all very keen on getting this problem of future sea level right. We need to know these numbers.” The new results will help inform the Sixth IPCC report scheduled for release in 2022.
  • NASA Monitors Carbon Monoxide From California Wildfires
    NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), aboard the Aqua satellite, captured carbon monoxide plumes coming from California wildfires last week. There were 28 major wildfires burning across the state as of Sept. 14. This includes the August Complex Fire, which started on Aug. 17 and has since burned over 471,000 acres, making it the largest fire on record in California. The animation shows three-day averages of carbon monoxide concentrations around 3 miles (5 kilometers) up in the atmosphere between Sept. 6 and Sept. 14. The red and orange areas indicate regions with extremely high carbon monoxide concentrations of greater than 350 parts per billion by volume (ppbv). The more normal, background concentrations of carbon monoxide show up as yellow and green, with amounts between 30 and 50 ppbv. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Released by the fires along with smoke and ash, carbon monoxide is a pollutant that can persist in the atmosphere for about a month and can be transported great distances. At the high altitude mapped in these images, the gas has little effect on the air we breathe; however, strong winds can carry it downwards to where it can significantly impact air quality. Carbon monoxide plays a role in both air pollution and climate change. The intense heat from the wildfires lofted the carbon monoxide high into the atmosphere, enabling detection by the AIRS instrument. The jet stream then blew the carbon monoxide plume eastward across the U.S. and over the Atlantic Ocean. AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations down to Earth's surface. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations and many other atmospheric phenomena. Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments fly onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and are managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of Caltech. The latest carbon monoxide data, as well as other information from NASA's Earth-observing missions, can be viewed in the fully interactive Earth Now app. With the "Latest Events" feature, you can explore geo-located satellite images of recent Earth events, including algal blooms and wildfires. More information about AIRS can be found at: https://airs.jpl.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's ECOSTRESS Takes Surface Temperature Around California Fires
    On Sept. 6, NASA’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) imaged active fires across California, including the El Dorado fire near Yucaipa and the Valley fire in Japatul Valley in the southern part of the state. As of Sept. 8, there were 25 major wildfires burning in California. Both images, taken at 12:13 a.m. PDT (3:13 a.m. EDT), show multiple concentrated areas of surface temperatures (in red) higher than 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius). These high temperature regions were likely where the active fires were occurring. The surrounding areas show abnormally warm middle-of-the-night background surface temperatures (orange) due to the ongoing heat wave. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages the ECOSTRESS mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Future studies could use ECOSTRESS data products in a similar fashion as land surface temperature was used to assess the fires pictured above. More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov For information on Earth science activities aboard the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/issearthscience Taken from CALFire daily wildfire update: https://www.fire.ca.gov/daily-wildfire-report/
  • Sea Level Mission Will Also Act as a Precision Thermometer in Space
    When a satellite by the name of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launches this November, its primary focus will be to monitor sea level rise with extreme precision. But an instrument aboard the spacecraft will also provide atmospheric data that will improve weather forecasts, track hurricanes, and bolster climate models. "Our fundamental goal with Sentinel-6 is to measure the oceans, but the more value we can add, the better," said Josh Willis, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "It's not every day that we get to launch a satellite, so collecting more useful data about our oceans and atmosphere is a bonus." A U.S.-European collaboration, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is actually one of two satellites that compose the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission. The satellite's twin, Sentinel-6B, will launch in 2025 to take over for its predecessor. Together, the spacecraft will join TOPEX/Poseidon and the Jason series of satellites, which have been gathering precise sea level measurements for nearly three decades. Once in orbit, each Sentinel-6 satellite will collect sea level measurements down to the centimeter for 90% of the world's oceans. Meanwhile, they'll also peer deep into Earth's atmosphere with what's called Global Navigation Satellite System – Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) to collect highly accurate global temperature and humidity information. Developed by JPL, the spacecraft's GNSS-RO instrument tracks radio signals from navigation satellites to measure the physical properties of Earth's atmosphere. As a radio signal passes through the atmosphere, it slows, its frequency changes, and its path bends. Called refraction, this effect can be used by scientists to measure minute changes in atmospheric physical properties, such as density, temperature, and moisture content. This illustration shows the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft in orbit above Earth with its deployable solar panels extended. The GNSS-RO instrument is located at the front and back of the spacecraft. Credit: ESA The precise global atmospheric measurements made by Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will complement atmospheric observations by other GNSS-RO instruments already in space. Specifically, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service meteorologists will use insights from Sentinel 6's GNSS-RO to improve weather forecasts. Also, the GNSS-RO information will provide long-term data that can be used both to monitor how our atmosphere is changing and to refine models used for making projections of future climate. Data from this mission will help track the formation of hurricanes and support models to predict the direction storms may travel. The more data we gather about hurricane formation (and where a storm might make landfall), the better in terms of helping local efforts to mitigate damage and support evacuation plans. How It Works Radio occultation was first used by NASA's Mariner 4 mission in 1965 when the spacecraft flew past Mars. As it passed behind the Red Planet from our perspective, scientists on Earth detected slight delays in its radio transmissions as they traveled through atmospheric gases. By measuring these radio signal delays, they were able to gain the first measurements of the Martian atmosphere and discover just how thin it was compared to Earth's. By the 1980s, scientists had started to measure the slight delays in radio signals from Earth-orbiting navigation satellites to better understand our planet's atmosphere. Since then, many radio occultation instruments have been launched; Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will join the six COSMIC-2 satellites as the most advanced GNSS-RO instruments among them. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » "The Sentinel-6 instrument is essentially the same as COSMIC-2's. Compared to other radio occultation instruments, they have higher measurement precision and greater atmospheric penetration depth," said Chi Ao, the instrument scientist for GNSS-RO at JPL. The GNSS-RO instrument's receivers track navigation satellite radio signals as they dip below, or rise from, the horizon. They can detect these signals through the vertical extent of the atmosphere – through thick clouds – from the very top and almost all the way to the ground. This is important, because weather phenomena emerge from all layers of the atmosphere, not just from near Earth's surface where we experience their effects. "Tiny changes in the radio signal can be measured by the instrument, which relate to the density of the atmosphere," added Ao. "We can then precisely determine the temperature, pressure, and humidity through the layers of the atmosphere, which give us incredible insights to our planet's dynamic climate and weather." With the help of JPL's GNSS-RO principal investigator Chi Ao and NOAA's National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Jackson, this video explains how the GNSS-RO instrument aboard Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will be used by meteorologists to improve weather forecasting predictions. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech But there's another reason why probing the entire vertical profile of the atmosphere from orbit is so important: accuracy. Meteorologists typically gather information from a variety of sources – from weather balloons to instruments aboard aircraft. But sometimes scientists need to compensate for biases in the data. For example, air temperature readings from a thermometer on an airplane can be skewed by heat radiating from parts of the aircraft. GNSS-RO data is different. The instrument collects navigation satellite signals at the top of the atmosphere, in what is close to a vacuum. Although there are sources of error in every scientific measurement, at that altitude, there's no refraction of the signal, which means there's an almost bias-free baseline to which atmospheric measurements can be compared in order to minimize noise in data collection. And as one of the most advanced GNSS radio occultation instruments in orbit, said Ao, it will also be one of the most accurate atmospheric thermometers in space. 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 GNSS-RO, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA 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 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
  • NASA Funds Eight New Projects Exploring Connections Between the Environment and COVID-19
    While scientists around the world are confined to their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Earth observing satellites continue to orbit and send back images that reveal connections between the pandemic and the environment. “Satellites collect data all the time and don’t require us to go out anywhere,” Hannah Kerner, an assistant research professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, said. Kerner is among eight researchers recently awarded a rapid-turnaround project grant, which supports investigators as they explore how COVID-19 stay-at-home measures are impacting the environment and how the environment can affect how the virus is spread. The newest group of projects includes six that are looking to satellite images to help reveal how COVID-19 stay-at-home measures are impacting food security, fire ecology, urban surface heat, clouds and warming, air pollution and precipitation, and water quality and aquatic ecosystems. Two projects are exploring how the environment could be impacting how the virus is spread by monitoring dust and weather. NASA’s Earth Science Division manages these projects that find new ways to use Earth observing data to better understand regional-to-global environmental, economic, and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Counting Crops During COVID This year was looking to be a relatively normal year for crops until the pandemic and associated stay-at-home policies happened. Reduced air and ground travel caused the demand for ethanol to plummet, which caused corn prices to decline. Stay-at-home policies also made it harder for officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to travel to farms and collect information about crop planting, progress, and conditions. The subsequent lack of public information about crops caused uncertainty and volatility in agricultural markets and prices as growing seasons progressed. “Markets want to know how much of a specific kind of crop to expect,” Kerner said. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Kerner and her team are looking to satellite data from NASA’s and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat, ESA's (the European Space Agency) Copernicus Sentinel-2, NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, and Planet’s satellites to help supplement USDA’s information. “We’re using satellite data and machine learning to map where and which crops are growing,” Kerner said. Specifically, they’re monitoring key commodity crops, which are corn and soybeans in the U.S. and winter wheat in Russia. Starting and Stopping Fires During Stay-at-Home There are far fewer intentional fires to boost biodiversity and reduce fuel loads in the Southeast this spring. As COVID-19 stay-at-home orders went into effect, the U.S. Forest Service temporarily suspended all of its intentional, or prescribed, burns on federal lands in the Southeast in March, and state agencies in Mississippi, South Carolina, and North Carolina followed suit. Ben Poulter, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NASA and NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite, as well as data from MODIS, to track fires across the country and better understand how COVID-19 social distancing policies, like federal travel restrictions, have affected both prescribed burns on the East Coast and wildfires in the West. Ultimately, his team wants to better understand how fewer fires in the Southeast could be affecting biodiversity, since some species rely on fires to thrive, and causing fuels to accumulate in vegetation, potentially leading to more dangerous wildfires in the future. On the other side of the country, the team is examining how COVID-19 policies are complicating fire suppression. As firefighting agencies have introduced social distancing practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19, like eliminating large camps of firefighters living in close quarters, Poulter said, “it may become more difficult to fight fires in the Western states.” The team is also looking at how the total number of fires across the country could affect atmospheric chemistry. It will work with air quality scientists to determine if there will be an overall net increase or decrease in total carbon dioxide, among other pollutants, from wildfires in the West and prescribed fires in the East. Fewer Cars Might Mean Hotter Surfaces Christopher Potter, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, is looking at how California’s shelter-in-place mandate in the San Francisco Bay Area has reduced the number of cars on the road and changed how parking lots, highways, and large industrial buildings’ surfaces absorb sunlight and reflect infrared heat. “It suddenly got so quiet,” Potter said, “There was no traffic anywhere in late March and April.” Potter and his team are monitoring parking lots and other surfaces to see if they are hotter or cooler during the pandemic. Visible light from the sun hits the surface and then is absorbed and reradiated as heat – a process called thermal heat flux. The team is using satellite thermal infrared sensor brightness temperatures from Landsat and land surface temperature from ECOSTRESS, which is a NASA sensor on the International Space Station, to map out large, flat urban features in the Bay Area and measure their thermal heat flux. He’s also gathering on-the-ground measurements to ground truth the data. Potter is asking questions like, if automobiles are parked and concentrated in giant lots, do you change the reflectance of the surface and the overall heat flux? Even shiny car windows may be enough to reflect sunlight, Potter said. Potter and his team want to know how the entire Bay Area’s urban heat flux has changed during the pandemic, and how that change has contributed to a more or less healthy environment for the millions of people living in it. Understanding potential changes in the thermal heat flux is a key indicator of how COVID-19 has altered the Bay Area’s environmental footprint, Potter said. This image shows the ECOSTRESS land surface temperature variations measured on May 22, 2020, during the full stay-at-home period over an area centered on the Great Mall in Milpitas. The blue dots represent ground truth measurements on May 22 in large vacant parking lots. The darkish reddish shades show the highest temperatures on dark asphalt parking lots and roadways, and the yellow-greenish shades indicate lower temperatures in parklands and semi-vegetated areas. Bright white rooftops are in the middle shades. Credit: NASA's Ames Research Center/Christopher Potter Fewer Planes and Fewer Clouds Could Make Things Cooler When you look up at a clear blue sky and the conditions are just right, you might see a plane soaring above and leaving behind a distinct white trail of clouds. Those clouds, or contrails, are produced by aircraft engine exhaust or changes in air pressure. William Smith and Dave Duda, researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have been studying contrails for a couple decades. “Contrails are one of the only clouds we produce ourselves,” Duda said. Although their effects vary and are difficult to quantify, their overall net effect is warming. This image is from the GOES-16 satellite on April 1, 2018, when there were many flights and subsequently many contrails. Credit: NASA's Langley Research Center/William Smith In response to COVID-19 travel bans and stay-at-home policies, we’re flying a lot less and producing fewer contrails. Duda and Smith want to quantify this decrease to better understand how air traffic density impacts contrail formation and its radiative forcing. In other words, are fewer planes and fewer contrails helping to cool the atmosphere? The team is using an established contrail detection algorithm to estimate coverage over the contiguous United States and the North Atlantic air traffic corridor over the 2020 slowdown period and compare that to a baseline period a couple years earlier when air traffic was unrestricted. Duda and Smith are also using MODIS to determine contrail optical properties to better understand how they reflect sunlight and trap energy from the surface and atmosphere below them. The atmosphere must be sufficiently cold and moist for a contrail to form, so there are typically more contrails during the winter and spring. “Not all contrails are equal,” Duda said. If one forms in the middle of clouds, it doesn’t have a significant impact. “You see the biggest impact when there’s an otherwise clear sky and a contrail adds cloudiness to it,” Duda said. Improving our understanding of how and when contrails form could help scientists inform airlines on ideal routes to fly planes. “It might be possible to reduce contrails and their effects by making occasional flight altitude or routing adjustments much like the airlines do now to avoid turbulence,” Smith said. Less Air Pollution May Mean Less Rain Gabriele Villarini, a professor at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and Wei Zhang, a scientist in the same institute, want to understand the connection between reduced air pollution during the pandemic and sharp decreases in precipitation in the western U.S. Moisture in the atmosphere condenses around aerosols, or particles like dust, and falls to Earth as rain and snow. Fewer aerosols during the pandemic may have been responsible for the reduced precipitation in February and March 2020 across the western U.S., with areas receiving less than 50% compared to a typical year. Understanding how the decrease in precipitation is related to reduced aerosols could be valuable to water resource managers. Villarini is aiming to use NASA’s satellite data on water vapor, precipitation, and aerosols as well as a comprehensive climate model that can combine atmospheric conditions such as moisture and temperature with chemical properties and processes that take place in the atmosphere. The model will help his team pinpoint the extent to which the reduction in aerosols is responsible for the decrease in precipitation as opposed to the natural variability in the climate system. “This project will help us understand how COVID-19 is impacting the natural environment,” Villarini said. Finding a Human Imprint on Water Quality in Belize The coastal area of Belize includes the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons, and estuaries. It is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the Atlantic and is home to colorful fish and playful sea turtles, many of which are endangered. A snapshot of the Belize Barrier Reef. The system’s seven sites are a significant habitat for threatened species, including marine turtles, manatees, and the American marine crocodile. Credit: Wouter Naert, Unsplash Robert Griffin, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was working on a NASA project to study the reef’s health when COVID-19 happened. “The pandemic created a natural experiment,” Griffin said, to better understand how urban pollutants affect water quality and coral reef health. Griffin and his team are studying how decreased tourism is impacting urban and agricultural sources of pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, to water quality off the coast of Belize. In addition to on-the-ground data, the team is using Landsat images to note how the pandemic is affecting land use changes, which affects how many pollutants are produced and able to reach water bodies and ecosystems. Griffin is also using MODIS and VIIRS data to monitor water quality. Griffin’s team is working with Belize government officials to help guide coastal marine development for the upcoming five years. “This research could provide guidance for land use planners as they determine how to deal with urban non-point sources of pollution,” like nutrients and sediments, that end up in the water and impact coral reef systems, Griffin said. Dust Storms, Society, and COVID-19 Pablo Méndez-Lázaro, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, is examining how the environment could affect the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. More specifically, he wants to know if seasonal African dust that travels to the Caribbean between May and August every year will have significant impacts on health and mortality associated with the virus. African dust travels from the Sahara Desert, across the Atlantic Ocean, to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Microorganisms in the dust particles can be linked to infectious diseases. Méndez-Lázaro and his team are working with epidemiologists, among many specialists, to better understand how African dust impacts public health. “We see this as a Rubik’s Cube,” Méndez-Lázaro said, to demonstrate how his research is one of various moving parts to understand a larger issue. “Each tiny, colored cube is a different part of the puzzle,” focused on epidemiological research, societal studies, clinical studies, vaccine research, and environmental work, Méndez-Lázaro said. The team is using VIIRS to measure aerosols in the atmosphere as a proxy for the dust clouds that arrive in the Caribbean. It’s also using MODIS and the European Commission’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring System to characterize the aerosols. Méndez-Lázaro is working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Health, the National Weather Service’s San Juan Office, as well as physicians and patients, to gather information on people who have contracted respiratory diseases through contact with African dust. “We believe that there could be an exacerbation of COVID-19 patients in the Caribbean during African dust events,” Méndez-Lázaro said, like the “Godzilla” event in June. Weather, Air Quality, and COVID-19 Yulia R. Gel, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Huikyo Lee, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, along with other collaborators, want to help clarify what environmental factors could impact a second wave of COVID-19 cases and determine how certain we can be with those conclusions. Her interdisciplinary team is studying whether surface air temperature and humidity are impacting transmission rates, and, if they are, how they are doing it. It’s also teasing out a potential link between aerosols and COVID-19 severity and mortality. Gel and her collaborators are using weather data from the Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder on the Aqua satellite and Cross-track Infrared Sounder on the Suomi NPP satellite. The team will obtain aerosol data from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer and MODIS and use machine learning algorithms and advanced analyses to track the dynamics of the virus’s spread and its mortality rate over space and time. More specifically, her team is using geometric deep learning algorithms, coupled with topological data analysis, which allow it to track COVID-19 transmission patterns that are driven, for instance, by different population characteristics, like age, gender, ethnicity, and income, as well as environmental factors. The advanced tools allow the team to consider factors that are not accessible using conventional approaches based on geographic proximity. Gel aims to provide a powerful software tool to help predict the seasonal COVID-19 progression on a regional to global scale, while quantifying a broad range of associated uncertainties. For more information, visit https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/rrnes-awards.
  • Global Survey Using NASA Data Shows Dramatic Growth of Glacial Lakes
    In the largest-ever study of glacial lakes, researchers using 30 years of NASA satellite data have found that the volume of these lakes worldwide has increased by about 50% since 1990 as glaciers melt and retreat due to climate change. The findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, will aid researchers assessing the potential hazards to communities downstream of these often unstable lakes and help improve the accuracy of sea level rise estimates by advancing our understanding of how glacial meltwater is transported to the oceans. Glaciers are retreating on a near-global scale, and this study provides scientists with a clearer picture of how much of this water has been stored in lakes. “We have known that not all meltwater is making it into the oceans immediately,” said lead author Dan Shugar of the University of Calgary in Canada. “But until now there were no data to estimate how much was being stored in lakes or groundwater.” The study estimates current glacial lake volumes total about 37.4 cubic miles (156 cubic kilometers) of water, the equivalent of about one-third the volume of Lake Erie. Shugar and his collaborators from governments and universities in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, working under a grant from NASA’s High Mountain Asia Program, initially planned to use satellite imaging and other remote-sensing data to study two dozen glacial lakes in High Mountain Asia, the geographic region that includes the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountain ranges, including the Himalaya. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » “We wrote scripts in Google Earth Engine, an online platform for very large analyses of geospatial data, to look only at High Mountain Asia, and then decided to look at all glacial lakes in the world,” Shugar said. “From there, we were able to build a scaling relationship to estimate the volume of the world’s glacial lakes based on the area of this large population of lakes.” The team ultimately analyzed more than 250,000 scenes from the Landsat satellite missions, a joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey program. A decade ago, it would not have been possible to process and analyze this volume of data. The team looked at the data in five time-steps beginning with 1990 to examine all the glaciated regions of the world except Antarctica and analyze how glacial lakes changed over that period. Shugar points out that while water from melting glaciers stored in glacial lakes is a relatively small contributor to overall sea level rise, it can have a major impact on mountain communities downstream of these glacial lakes. In the largest-ever study of glacial lakes, researchers using a 30-year satellite data record have found that the volume of these lakes worldwide has increased by about 50% since 1990. Credit: NASA. Download from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio “This is an issue for many parts of the world where people live downstream from these hazardous lakes, mostly in the Andes and in places like Bhutan and Nepal, where these floods can be devastating,” Shugar said. “Fortunately, organizations like the United Nations are facilitating a lot of monitoring and some mitigation work where they’re lowering the lakes to try and decrease the risks.” In North America, the risks posed by a glacial lake outburst flood are lower. “We don’t have much in the way of infrastructure or communities that are downstream,” Shugar said. “But we’re not immune to it.” For more information about NASA's Earth science programs, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/earth
  • Pinpointing Tropical Forests with High Ecological 'Quality'
    High-resolution NASA satellite data have made it possible for scientists to develop maps showing the "quality" of tropical forests. Previous maps only focused on the size of a forest. These maps show forest quality as a single measurement, taking into account information like the height of trees, thickness of the forest canopy, and if logging, fire or a similar disturbance occurred. "Now we have maps that show not just where the forests are located, but the ecological quality of those forests," said lead author Andrew Hansen of Montana State University. "That's important because it allows policymakers to prioritize forests that have the highest value in terms of biodiversity, carbon storage, and water yield," Hansen said. About half of the world's humid tropical forests could be considered of "high quality," according to the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. The study was supported the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Wildlife Conservation Society and other leading research institutions. Only 6.5% of these high-quality forests have formal protections, said Hansen. With their low levels of human pressure, large trees and thick canopy vegetation, these forests act as key habitats for many plants and animals, which fosters biodiversity. They also help stabilize the climate worldwide by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The paper's authors note where these high-quality forests are at risk and include a conservation framework that recommends ways to protect existing forests as well as restoring others. One way to restore the quality of forests is increasing the number of species that live there by strengthening protections like limiting hunting and reducing invasive species, Hansen said. "Another way is restoring forest structure," he added. "Grow taller forests with more canopy layers for example." Most of the high-quality forests mapped in the study are located in remote areas of the Amazon and Congo. "The key advance here was remote sensing," Hansen said, adding that Earth observations now make it possible to measure details like forest height and vegetation in far greater detail than ever before. The team combined precise measurements of the height of vegetation on the Earth's surface from the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) with the main data set for the work, the decades-long record collected by the Landsat series of satellites, an Earth-observing mission developed in partnership between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. "It's a globally consistent, fine-scale measurement of forest structure and allows identification of taller, older and more closed-canopy humid tropical forests," Hansen said. By combining that information with measurements of human activity, the team developed their overall index of forest quality. High-resolution NASA satellite data have made it possible for scientists to develop maps showing the "quality" of tropical forests. Credit: NASA Earth Engine: Tropical Forest Condition and Conservation Woody Turner is the lead of the Earth Sciences Ecological Forecasting program area, which funds the project. "NASA is making great strides in bringing together imagery from multiple Earth observation satellites with measurements of human activity and other on-the-ground data," he said. "The trick is to get very different types of data, often captured at different spatial scales, into a common framework for a soup-to-nuts approach needed to address some of these global issues." In 2021, 196 countries will define global biodiversity priorities for the next 30 years at the UN Biodiversity Conference. Hansen says that he and his co-authors at the UNDP plan to work with countries to see how their research can both influence the targets to be contained within the global biodiversity framework, as well as monitoring and reporting over the coming decade. "We have an optimistic message," Hansen added. "In the humid tropics, forests grow very quickly, so in a decade you can improve these forests. There's something good that each country can do."
  • NASA-led Study Reveals the Causes of Sea Level Rise Since 1900
    To make better predictions about the future impacts of sea level rise, new techniques are being developed to fill gaps in the historic record of sea level measurements. We know the factors that play a role in sea level rise: Melting glaciers and ice sheets add water to the seas, and warmer temperatures cause water to expand. Other factors are known to slow the rise, such as dams impounding water on the land, stymying its flow into the sea. When each factor is added together, this estimate should match the sea level that scientists observe. Until now, however, the sea level "budget" has fallen short of the observed sea level rise, leading scientists to question why the budget wouldn't balance. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » A new study published on Aug. 19 seeks to balance this budget. By gaining new insights to historic measurements, scientists can better forecast how each of these factors will affect sea level rise and how this rise will impact us in the future. For example, in its recent flooding report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noted a rapid increase in sea level rise-related flooding events along U.S. coasts over the last 20 years, and they are expected to grow in extent, frequency, and depth as sea levels continue to rise. Factors Driving Our Rising Seas On reexamining each of the known contributors to sea level rise from 1900 to 2018, the research, led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, uses improved estimates and applies satellite data to better understand historic measurements. The researchers found that estimates of global sea level variations based on tide-gauge observations had slightly overestimated global sea levels before the 1970s. (Located at coastal stations scattered around the globe, tide gauges are used to measure sea level height.) They also found that mountain glacier meltwater was adding more water to the oceans than previously realized but that the relative contribution of glaciers to sea level rise is slowly decreasing. And they discovered that glacier and Greenland ice sheet mass loss explain the increased rate of sea level rise before 1940. This infographic shows the rise in sea levels since 1900. Pre-1940, glaciers and Greenland meltwater dominated the rise; dam projects slowed the rise in the 1970s. Now, ice sheet and glacier melt, plus thermal expansion, dominate the rise. Tide-gauge data shown in blue and satellite data in orange. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In addition, the new study found that during the 1970s, when dam construction was at its peak, sea level rise slowed to a crawl. Dams create reservoirs that can impound freshwater that would normally flow straight into the sea. "That was one of the biggest surprises for me," said lead researcher Thomas Frederikse, a postdoctoral fellow at JPL, referring to the peak in global dam projects at that time. "We impounded so much freshwater, humanity nearly brought sea level rise to a halt." Since the 1990s, however, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet mass loss and thermal expansion have accelerated sea level rise, while freshwater impoundment has decreased. As our climate continues to warm, the majority of this thermal energy is absorbed by the oceans, causing the volume of the water to expand. In fact, ice sheet melt and thermal expansion now account for about two-thirds of observed global mean sea level rise. Mountain glacier meltwater currently contributes another 20%, while declining freshwater water storage on land adds the remaining 10%. All told, sea levels have risen on average 1.6 millimeters (0.063 inches) per year between 1900 and 2018. In fact, sea levels are rising at a faster rate than at any time in the 20th century. But previous estimates of the mass of melting ice and thermal expansion of the ocean fell short of explaining this rate, particularly before the era of precise satellite observations of the world's oceans, creating a deficit in the historic sea level budget. Finding a Balance In simple terms, the sea level budget should balance if the known factors are accurately estimated and added together. It's a bit like balancing the transactions in your bank account: Added together, all the transactions in your statement should match the total. If they don't, you may have overlooked a transaction or two. The same logic can be applied to the sea level budget: When each factor that affects sea level is added together, this estimate should match the sea level that scientists observe. Until now, however, the sea level budget has fallen short of the observed sea level rise. "That was a problem," said Frederikse. "How could we trust projections of future sea level change without fully understanding what factors are driving the changes that we have seen in the past?" Frederikse led an international team of scientists to develop a state-of-the-art framework that pulls together the advances in each area of study - from sea level models to satellite observations - to improve our understanding of the factors affecting sea level rise for the past 120 years. The latest satellite observations came from the pair of NASA - German Aerospace Center (DLR) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites that operated from 2002-2017, and their successor pair, the NASA - German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) GRACE Follow-On (launched in 2018). Additional data from the series of TOPEX/Jason satellites - a joint effort of NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales -that have operated continuously since 1992 were included in the analysis to enhance tide-gauge data. "Tide-gauge data was the primary way to measure sea level before 1992, but sea level change isn't uniform around the globe, so there were uncertainties in the historic estimates," said Sönke Dangendorf, an assistant professor of oceanography at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and a coauthor of the study. "Also, measuring each of the factors that contribute to global mean sea levels was very difficult, so it was hard to gain an accurate picture." But over the past two decades, scientists have been "flooded" with satellite data, added Dangendorf, which has helped them precisely track the physical processes that affect sea levels. For example, GRACE and GRACE-FO measurements have accurately tracked global water mass changes, melting glaciers, ice sheets, and how much water is stored on land. Other satellite observations have tracked how regional ocean salinity changes and thermal expansion affect some parts of the world more than others. Up-and-down movements of Earth's crust influence the regional and global levels of the oceans as well, so these aspects were included in the team's analysis. "With the GRACE and GRACE-FO data we can effectively back-extrapolate the relationship between these observations and how much sea level rises at a particular place," said Felix Landerer, project scientist at JPL for GRACE-FO and a coauthor of the study. "All observations together give us a pretty accurate idea of what contributed to sea level change since 1900, and by how much." The study, titled "The Causes of Sea Level Rise Since 1900," was published Aug. 19 in Nature. In addition to scientists from JPL and Old Dominion University, the project involved researchers from Caltech, Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, University of Siegen in Germany, the National Oceanography Centre in the United Kingdom, Courant Institute in New York, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Academia Sinica in Taiwan. JPL managed the GRACE mission and manages the GRACE-FO mission for NASA's Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Based on Pasadena, California, Caltech manages JPL for NASA. News Media Contact 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
  • Study: 2019 Sees Record Loss of Greenland Ice
    Greenland set a new record for ice loss in 2019, shedding the most mass from its giant ice sheet in any year since at least 1948. The large loss – 532 billion tons – is a stark reversal of the more moderate rate of melt seen in the previous two years. And it exceeds Greenland's previous record of 464 billion tons, set in 2012. The record melt will likely raise average global sea level by 1.5 millimeters. Using a hypothetical comparison, all the water combined would cover the entire state of California in more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water. The findings were published Aug. 20 in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. "What I found interesting is such a high variability in the rate of loss for the Greenland Ice Sheet," said Alex Gardner, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and a coauthor of the study. "The years 2017 and 2018 were relatively mild after a decade of record losses, then 2019 came back to set a new record." To provide ice-loss estimates for the study, an international team of scientists, including Gardner, combined measurements from the GRACE and GRACE Follow-On (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites with data from computer models that simulate snowfall and ice-sheet melting on Greenland. Flown between 2002 and 2017, the twin GRACE satellites measured the gravitational pull exerted by massive bodies such as ice sheets: As one satellite passed over a gravitational "bump" on Earth's surface, it would speed up just a bit, changing the distance between it and its twin. Precise measurements of these changes would yield the "weight," or mass, of the object below. GRACE-FO picked up the baton in 2018 and has been continuing to monitor changes in ice mass. Together, the two GRACE missions provide a record of total yearly changes in ice mass now approaching 20 years, allowing scientists to see significant global trends and variations from year to year. Despite a nearly one-year gap in the data record from GRACE to GRACE-FO (July 2017 to May 2018), the total yearly change in ice mass could be measured precisely. The new findings reveal that climate-related changes in weather patterns over Greenland are a major reason for the large island's increasing rate of loss, according to glaciologist Ingo Sasgen of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, who led the study. The five years with the biggest losses all have occurred in the past decade. Get a Monthly Digest of NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » "More and more often, we have stable [atmospheric] high-pressure systems over the ice sheet, which favor the influx of warmer air from the midlatitudes, one of the conditions promoting melt," Sasgen said. A similar pattern was seen in the previous record year of 2012. The years 2017 and 2018 were unusually cold and snowy, Sasgen added, leading to a more modest but still pronounced decline in Greenland's "mass balance" – the difference between ice added by snowfall and subtracted both by ice melt and by the ice flowing into the ocean along the ice sheet's margins. In 2019, Greenland returned to the pattern more prevalent in recent years: lower rates of snowfall compared to the long-term average. The computer modeling of regional climate helped reveal weather effects, such as lingering high atmospheric pressure and resulting warm air. Even as the new study improves understanding of atmospheric effects on Arctic ice melt, others, like NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG), track the ocean's effects. Both are critical to a complete picture of changes over decades. "When you look at the record as a whole, you start to see the long-term trend becoming more clear," Gardner said. 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. GRACE and GRACE-FO are mission partnerships between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, and NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences, respectively. Based on Pasadena, California, Caltech manages JPL for NASA. 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

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