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.


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


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

  • Week in review – science edition
    By Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye these past several weeks Early humans escaped the worse impacts of massive volcanic eruption [link] “Since 1951, the number of heavy rainfall days per year for the whole of Germany … Continue reading →
  • Heat waves and hot air
    by Judith Curry Heat waves are the new polar bears, stoking alarm about climate change.  Climate scientists addressing this in the media are using misleading and/or inadequate approaches.  How should we approach assessing whether and how much manmade global warming … Continue reading →
  • 5 minutes
    by Judith Curry How would you explain the complexity and uncertainty surrounding climate change plus how we should respond (particularly with regards to CO2 emissions) in five minutes? Last week I served on a panel for a summer school in … Continue reading →
  • Climate Change, Extreme Weather, and Electric System Reliability
    by Judith Curry I recently participated in a Technical Conference sponsored by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This was a very interesting conference. Unfortunately there is no podcast or record of the written statements submitted by the panel … Continue reading →
  • Death spiral of American academia
    by Patrick J Michaels Earlier this year, Eric Kaufmann of the University of London published a remarkably detailed and comprehensive study of bias in academia, “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship.” Kaufmann’s writing is a product of California’s Center for the … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye these past few weeks. A new study finds a large, previously unknown contribution to climate change through human conversion of peatlands for agriculture [link] Accelerating deployment of offshore wind energy … Continue reading →
  • Truth or consequences: global warming consensus thinking and the decline of public debate
    by Geoffrey Weiss and Claude Roessiger The so-called debate about the causes and effects of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a notable irony. Rather than a forum for free disputation, AGW has in recent years become the site of a … Continue reading →
  • Simplified climate modelling. Part 1: The role of CO2 in paleoclimate
    by Thomas Anderl Simple models are formulated to identify the essentials of the natural climate variabilities, concentrating on the readily observable and simplest description. The results will be presented in a series of five articles. This first part shows an … Continue reading →
  • Collapse of the fake consensus on Covid-19 origins
    by Judith Curry The concerning saga of the creation, enforcement and collapse of a ‘consensus’ on Covid-19 origins. The Covid-19 virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, where there is a laboratory that conducts research on bat coronaviruses. However from the … Continue reading →
  • Projecting manmade climate change: scenarios to 2050
    by Judith Curry Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate change — more realistic scenarios make for better policy.  The International Energy Agency has just published a document ‘NetZero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.‘  This document provides … Continue reading →
  • How epidemiologists try to fool us with flawed statistical practices
    by S. Stanley Young and Warren Kindzierski Climate Etc. recently carried several insightful posts about How we fool ourselves. One of the posts – Part II: Scientific consensus building – was right on the money given our experience! The post pointed out that… ‘researcher degrees … Continue reading →
  • North Atlantic Nonsense
    by Alan Longhurst    “Never before in 1000 years the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as the Gulf Stream System, has been as weak as in the last decades“.   This announcement from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research was headlined … Continue reading →
  • Climate book shelf
    by Judith Curry Reviews of new books by Steve Koonin, Matthew Kahn and Marc Morano. A year ago, we discussed [link]: • False Alarm, by Bjorn Lomborg • Apocalypse Never, by Michael Schellberger Earlier this year, two notable climate books … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my these past few weeks. Future sea level change from Greenland and Antarctica, from CMIP5 and CMIP6 scenarios [link] Regional variation in the effectiveness of methane-based and land-based #climate mitigation options https://esd.copernicus.org/articles/12/513/2021/… … Continue reading →
  • Eco-anxiety
    by Judith Curry The damaging effects of generating eco-anxiety in children. Climate Etc. as an antidote. Earlier this week, I received this letter via email: To the Esteemed Dr. Judith Curry: You don’t know me but I am a frequent … Continue reading →
  • Climate is everything
    by Judith Curry . . . according to the cover story of April 26 issue of Time Magazine. How have we have fooled ourselves into thinking that manmade climate change is the dominant cause of societal problems? Some excerpts from … Continue reading →
  • Academic freedom and scholarship: perspective from Canada
    by Pamela Lindsay Mentorships by professors of students are among the vital functions of a university. Here I expose the vulnerable underbelly of mentorship and one possible threat to academic freedom and scholarship. A tiny percentage of students will go … Continue reading →
  • How we fool ourselves. Part III: Social biases
    by Judith Curry “Is the road to scientific hell paved with good intentions?” – political psychologist Philip Tetlock (1994) Part I in this series addressed logical fallacies. Part II addressed biases associated with a consensus building process. Part II addresses … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week An Icelandic volcano is a gold mine for scientists who study the possible history of life on Mars [link] Correctly simulating Southern Ocean and Antarctic mixed-phase clouds … Continue reading →
  • How we fool ourselves. Part II: Scientific consensus building
    by Judith Curry “Like a magnetic field that pulls iron filings into alignment, a powerful cultural belief is aligning multiple sources of scientific bias in the same direction. – policy scientist Daniel Sarewitz Statistician Regina Nuzzo summarizes the problem: “This … Continue reading →
  • Environmental Justice campaign to replace New York City peaking power plants
    by Roger Caiazza Environmental justice organizations are currently a major driver of environmental regulation in New York. A new report “The Fossil Fuel End Game, A frontline vision to retire New York City’s peaker plants by 2030” illustrates the campaign … Continue reading →
  • A pertinent climate question
    by Michel de Rougemont Not so innocent as it looks, a pertinent question is asked by Judith Curry on Twitter: How much of a change in cloudiness would it take to account for the 0.53 W/m2 increase in TOA radiative … Continue reading →
  • UK climate policy discussion thread
    by Judith Curry I have been contacted by a UK politician about climate policy in the UK, We have a zoom call scheduled for next Thursday to discuss. I know that at least some of the Denizens are from the … Continue reading →
  • Climate adaptation sense. Part III: Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways
    by Judith Curry Best practices in adapting to sea level rise use a framework suitable for decision making under deep uncertainty. This post is the third (and final) part in the series on New Jersey sea level rise: Climate adaptation … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye these past few weeks At the global scale, a decrease in flood probabilities [link] How much Arctic fresh water participates in the overturning circulation? [link] Simulated stability of the Atlantic … Continue reading →
  • Climate adaptation follies. Part II: scenarios of future sea level rise
    by Judith Curry How did the state of New Jersey come to adopt sea level rise projections for their adaptation planning that are more than twice as high as the IPCC’s values? Part I introduced the challenges facing New Jersey … Continue reading →
  • Climate adaptation follies. Part I: The New Jersey challenge
    by Judith Curry New Jersey has a sea level rise problem.  How should this be managed? New Jersey’s peninsular geography makes it especially vulnerable to sea level rise. The problem Sea level is rising along the New Jersey coast, at … Continue reading →
  • Canceling the AMO
    by Judith Curry Conclusion from Michael Mann’s new paper:  “We conclude that there is no compelling evidence for internal multidecadal oscillations in the climate system.” Michael Mann’s most recent paper: Multidecadal climate oscilliations during the past millennium driven by volcanic … Continue reading →
  • Compensation between cloud feedback + ECS and aerosol-cloud forcing in CMIP6 models
    By Nic Lewis An important paper, Wang et al.[1], on the relationships between cloud feedback, climate sensitivity (ECS) and aerosol-cloud interaction in the latest generation of global climate models (CMIP6) has just been published. The key conclusion of the paper … Continue reading →
  • Uncomfortable knowledge
    by Judith Curry On the misuse of science and scientific authority. The latest issue of The Breakthrough Journal is a tour de force. Excerpts from the Introduction to the issue: <begin quote> Donald Rumsfeld famously opined on the problems of … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – TX edition
    by Judith Curry A round up of some insightful articles on the TX blackout I originally planned on doing a post on TX, but no time.  Here are links to some of the more interesting articles that I flagged. Weather … Continue reading →
  • CO2 sensitivity: the polar solution
    by Alan Longhurst Natural climate variability in the polar regions. If our planet had been designed with comparative high-latitude studies in mind, it couldn’t have been better arranged than it is. The 700N parallel encloses extensive continental regions that were … Continue reading →
  • Assigning Blame for the Blackouts in Texas
    By Planning Engineer The story from some media sources is that frozen wind turbines are responsible for the power shortfalls in Texas. Other media sources emphasize that fossil fuel resources should shoulder the blame because they have large cold induced … Continue reading →
  • The progress of the COVID-19 epidemic in Sweden: an update
    By Nic Lewis I thought it was time for an update of my original analysis of 28 June 2020. As I wrote then, the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden is of great interest, as it is one of … Continue reading →
  • Assessment of climate change risk to the insurance sector
    by Judith Curry The insurance sector is abuzz with a new report from AIR Worldwide on the insurance risk from the impact of climate change on hurricanes.  Insurance industry clients of my company, Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN), have requested … Continue reading →
  • A climate of dialogue
    by Judith Curry A pacated dialogue between two serious thinkers who disagree about climate change. This post provides excerpts of a dialogue between European scholars Andrea Saltelli and Paul-Marie Boulanger. There are some real insights here.  But mostly, I like … Continue reading →
  • Road to Climate Neutrality
    by Judith Curry Spatial Requirements of Wind/Solar and Nuclear Energy and Their Respective Costs “In addition to the energy sector, the climate debate also needs a transition. From ideology and wishful thinking, to facts, figures and rationality.” An important document … Continue reading →
  • Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry
    by Judith Curry My recent interview on the Strong and Free podcast. I recently did an interview with Christopher Balkaran on his Strong and Free podcast [link] While I wasn’t previously aware of Balkaran or his podcast, you can see … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye over the past several weeks. Meet the team shaking up climate models [link] Uncertainty and the remaining 1.5C carbon budget [link] journal pub [link] Effects of global irrigation on climate … Continue reading →
  • Committed warming and the pattern effect
    By Nic Lewis A critique of the paper “Greater committed warming after accounting for the pattern effect”, by Zhou, Zelinka, Dessler and Wang.  Key points The pattern effect is the dependence of outgoing radiation to space on the spatial pattern … Continue reading →
  • The big ‘cancel’
    by Judith Curry We need to allow all voices to be heard. Like everyone else on the planet, I have been riveted by the events of the past week.  And I have been suffering from a great deal of cognitive … Continue reading →
  • COVID-19: why did a second wave occur even in regions hit hard by the first wave?
    By Nic Lewis  Introduction Many people, myself included, thought that in the many regions where COVID-19 infections were consistently reducing during the summer, indicating that the applicable herd immunity threshold had apparently been crossed, it was unlikely that a major … Continue reading →
  • Biden Administration II
    by Judith Curry Just as everyone was heaving a sigh of relief that 2020 is over, 2021 is providing some fresh craziness. We clearly need a new thread on this topic, but I have about 15 minutes today to spend … Continue reading →
  • Looking forward: new technologies in the 2020’s
    by Judith Curry Looking ahead towards new energy technologies, plus my own saga and rationale for transitioning my personal power generation and consumption. Happy New Year everyone!  The theme I decided for my post to ring in the New Year … Continue reading →
  • The relative infectivity of the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2
    By Nic Lewis Key points A new variant, B.1.1.7, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has recently spread rapidly in England The public health agency’s best estimate of B.1.1.7’s weekly growth rate advantage is 1.51x They mis-convert this in a reproduction number … Continue reading →
  • 2020 Year in Review
    by Judith Curry A year ago, there were many things about 2020 that no one anticipated. A few reflections on 2020.  Are there any insights to be gleaned from this crazy year? 1.Falsification of WHO’s prediction:   “Climate change is the … Continue reading →
  • Asymptomatic spread(?) of Covid-19
    by Judith Curry I just finished reading an article entitled Asymptomatic Spread Revisited. A new article in Nature [link] based on an extremely extensive and thorough analysis in Wuhan found no cases of asymptomatic transmission.  Cynically, comments on this paper … Continue reading →
  • The blame game
    by Judith Curry How the ‘blame game’ gets in the way of solving complex societal problems. An essay on how attempting to identify  blame for complex societal problems can get in the way of finding solutions to these problems.  What … Continue reading →
  • Week in review – science edition
    by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye these past 10 (!) weeks Politics-free thread, please! Climate science Partitioning climate projection uncertainty with multiple large ensembles and CMIP5/6 [link] How changing content of clouds could influence climate change … Continue reading →
  • Biden administration
    by Judith Curry I’ve received requests for a new politics discussion thread. Apart from some remaining challenges to the election results, the transition to the Biden administration is underway. Cabinet members are being named [link] Notably, John Kerry  will serve … Continue reading →


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  • NASA Study Finds Tropical Forests' Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide Is Waning
    In Brief: The finding comes out of an effort to map where vegetation is emitting and soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Earth’s trees and plants pull vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis, incorporating some of that carbon into structures like wood. Areas that absorb more carbon than they emit are called carbon sinks. But plants can also emit the greenhouse gas during processes like respiration, when dead plants decay, or during combustion in the case of fires. Researchers are particularly interested in whether – and how – plants at the scale of an ecosystem like a forest act as sources or sinks in an increasingly warming world. A recent study led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California identified whether vegetated areas like forests and savannas around the world were carbon sources or sinks every year from 2000 to 2019. The research found that over the course of those two decades, living woody plants were responsible for more than 80% of the sources and sinks on land, with soil, leaf litter, and decaying organic matter making up the rest. But they also saw that vegetation retained a far smaller fraction of the carbon than the scientists originally thought. In addition, the researchers found that the total amount of carbon emitted and absorbed in the tropics was four times larger than in temperate regions and boreal areas (the northernmost forests) combined, but that the ability of tropical forests to absorb massive amounts of carbon has waned in recent years. The decline in this ability is because of large-scale deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change effects, like more frequent droughts and fires. In fact, the study, published in Science Advances, showed that 90% of the carbon that forests around the world absorb from the atmosphere is offset by the amount of carbon released by such disturbances as deforestation and droughts. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The scientists created maps of carbon sources and sinks from land-use changes like deforestation, habitat degradation, and forest planting, as well as forest growth. They did so by analyzing data on global vegetation collected from space using instruments such as NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on board ICESat and the agency’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, respectively. The analysis used a machine-learning algorithm that the researchers first trained using vegetation data gathered on the ground and in the air using laser-scanning instruments. Taking Stock “A lot of research that has come before hasn’t been spatially explicit – we haven’t had a map of where carbon fluxes were occurring,” said Nancy Harris, research director of the forest program at the World Resources Institute in Washington and one of the study authors. Other ways of estimating how much carbon is exchanged between vegetated areas and the atmosphere include looking at how many plants or forests are in a particular region and studying land-use changes, combining that information with carbon emission estimates. But those methods have spatial or temporal limitations that the study authors tried to address with their machine-learning method. Knowing where plants are taking up carbon and where they’re emitting it is important for monitoring how forests and other vegetated regions respond to a changing climate. “The Amazon was considered a substantial carbon sink because of large tracts of pristine forest that soak up carbon dioxide,” said Sassan Saatchi, principal scientist at JPL and the study lead investigator. “However, our results show that overall, the Amazon Basin is becoming almost neutral in terms of carbon balance because deforestation, degradation, and the impacts of warming, frequent droughts, and fires over the past two decades release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.” Saatchi and his colleagues developed their analysis so that it’s easier to track changes in vegetated areas based on data collected on the ground as well as remotely. “Our approach is designed to make sure we can systematically balance the global carbon budget every year, and that countries can use the results and methodology for carbon management and their own reporting needs,” he said. This map shows the change in how much carbon a vegetated area stored or emitted between the years 2000 and 2019. Greener areas absorbed more carbon than they emitted, while more pink and purple regions released more carbon than they stored. One megagram of carbon (MgC) is one metric ton. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech This budgeting analysis helped the researchers better understand the dynamics of how forests and other vegetated areas around the world were storing the carbon that they’re absorbing from the atmosphere. “Many previous studies found that vegetation around the world absorbs a lot of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” said study lead author Alan Xu, a carbon researcher at JPL and UCLA. “It gives the impression that global forests are growing and getting bigger everywhere, but that’s not the case.” Missing Pieces This study helps to fill in the picture of where and how trees and plants are absorbing or emitting carbon, but there’s more work to be done. The satellite-based carbon maps in this study covered about 39 square miles (100 square kilometers) at a time, but they couldn’t necessarily pick up changes happening on smaller scales. And there was some information about how forests stored and emitted carbon within those maps that wasn’t necessarily accounted for in the researchers’ source-sink calculations. Some of these information gaps should be remedied by higher-resolution carbon maps provided by newer satellites already in orbit, as well as upcoming missions like the NASA-Indian Space Research Organization’s NISAR. It’s important to understand how regions around the world absorb and emit carbon dioxide, said Harris. “If we’re not getting these patterns right, we may be missing some of these ecosystems and how they’re affecting the carbon cycle.” But she is encouraged by the sheer amount of data becoming available to climate scientists on how the greenhouse gas moves between the atmosphere and Earth’s forests, grasslands, and other vegetated areas. Saatchi is hopeful that having a more systematic and consistent approach to keeping track of which parts of the world are acting as carbon sources or sinks will enable better monitoring across regions and countries. “It could allow countries around the world to use the data as guidance for meeting their national commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.” Learn more about climate change and carbon dioxide here: https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/ 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
  • Satellite Data Give Scientists an Upstream Look at Native Fish
    A team of NASA scientists has found a novel way to measure biodiversity in Alaska. By combining satellite data with water samples containing fish DNA, they can locate the habitats of native fish in the Arctic over a wide area very efficiently. This information helps organizations like the federal Bureau of Land Management make more informed decisions on how to protect fish species and their ecosystems from threats from human development and a changing climate. The NASA team examined fish habitats in the roughly 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska — an area rich in both native fish populations and in oil and gas. They created maps that predict how likely it is for each fish species to appear in different parts of a stream by looking at satellite and remote sensing data on landscape characteristics like vegetation “greenness” and water temperatures. Then they combined that data with data taken from the water that showed the locations of fish species. The project is so promising that the Bureau of Land Management already plans to expand use of this tool to cover other parts of Alaska, and the NASA team is working on a similar project to monitor amphibians along the California coast. Learn more about how this project uses NASA satellite data to monitor and protect native fish species in the story, Satellite Data Meets Cellular DNA for Species of Interest.
  • NASA Tracks Heat Wave Over US Southwest
    The AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite collected temperature readings in the atmosphere and at the surface during an unprecedented heat wave in the southwestern U.S. from July 1 to July 12, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In Brief: While one science instrument mapped the dome of high pressure that settled over the southwestern U.S. in early July, another captured ground surface temperatures. Just weeks after the Pacific Northwest endured record-shattering temperatures, another heat wave scorched the U.S. Southwest. This heat wave, which started around July 7, tied or broke several all-time records in California, Nevada, northern Arizona, and southern Utah. Two instruments – NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) aboard the Aqua satellite, and the agency’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) – tracked the heat wave, providing visualizations of it. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The AIRS instrument captured the progression of a slow-moving heat dome across the southwestern U.S from July 1 to July 12. The animation of the AIRS data (above) shows surface air temperature anomalies – values above or below long-term averages. The hottest areas, shown in pink, experienced surface air temperatures more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5.6 degrees Celsius) above average. Surface air temperature is something that people directly feel when they are outside. On July 8, 2021, NASA’s ECOSTRESS instrument, aboard the space station captured ground surface temperature data over California. Areas in red – including Death Valley – had surpassed 86 degrees Fahrenheit by 7 a.m. local time, well above average ground surface temperatures for the area. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech On July 8, NASA’s ECOSTRESS instrument, attached to the International Space Station, captured ground surface temperature data over California. In the image (middle image), areas in red – including Death Valley – had surpassed 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) by 7 a.m. local time, well above average ground surface temperatures for the area. On July 9, Death Valley recorded a high air temperature of 130 F, which fell just a few degrees short of the official all-time surface air temperature record of 134 F set in 1913. On July 11, Bishop, California, hit an all-time high of 111 F and Stovepipe Wells, California, set a new record for daily average temperature with 118 F. Numerous other daily, monthly, and all-time records were set throughout the inland areas of central and Southern California and northern Arizona. More information about AIRS can be found at: https://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/ More information about ECOSTRESS can be found at: https://ecostress.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
  • Five Ways NASA Helps with Shark Conservation
    NASA’s CALIPSO satellite uses lidar to measure the movement of marine wildlife throughout the ocean. Credit: NASA / Timothy Marvel While scientists at our partner institutions are directly focusing on shark conservation, NASA's Earth-observing satellites collect key information about sharks' habitat – the ocean. NASA's satellites measure the height of the ocean, track currents, monitor marine habitats, and oversee water quality events like harmful algal blooms. Our long-term data sets also help us understand how climate change is affecting the ocean and marine life. NASA shares ocean data with conservation groups, researchers and partners like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 1. NASA Satellites Help Track Marine Animals' Movement NASA satellite data combined with field measurements help scientists construct a clearer picture of the travel routes of sharks and other marine animals. In 2019 with the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite (CALIPSO), a joint venture between NASA and the French space agency, the Centre National D'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), observed a massive animal migration that takes place on our planet. In this case, marine animals such as fish, krill and squid rise from the ocean depths to the surface to feast on microscopic plants called phytoplankton as well as smaller zooplankton and other animals on a daily basis. Studies like this provide information about the food supply available to sharks and how changes in ecosystems could impact the health of sharks and other large marine wildlife. Knowing where marine animals are by using NASA satellite data and field observations also supports sustainable fishing practices and reduces bycatch. 2. NASA Studies the Productivity of Earth's Oceans From space and ships and autonomous underwater vehicles, NASA's EXport Processes in the Ocean from Remote Sensing (EXPORTS) campaign is studying the ocean's biological pump – the process by which carbon from the atmosphere and surface ocean is sequestered in the deep ocean. This process starts at the surface, where phytoplankton draw carbon out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis. This kicks off the marine food web because phytoplankton turn atmospheric carbon into food when they are eaten by tiny animals called zooplankton. Those in turn are eaten by fish who are eaten by other fish and large marine animals, including sharks. When fish and marine animals die, they can carry the carbon stored in their bodies to the ocean floor. Three ships used in the EXPORTS campaign – the R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa (foreground), positioned close to the RRS James Cook (middle) and RRS Discovery (back) – at a meet up point in the northeast Atlantic. Credit: Courtesy of Marley Parker Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » 3. A Hubble Star-Mapping Algorithm Tracks Whale Sharks Back in 1986, a researcher at Princeton University developed an algorithm to map the stars and galaxies captured by NASA's Hubble Telescope. Now, that algorithm has been adapted to recognize the star-like patterns on speckle-skinned whale sharks. This allows the algorithm to identify individual whale sharks, which helps scientists keep tabs on these rare, 40-foot-long sharks as part of the Australian non-profit ECOCEAN's Whale Shark Photo-Identification Library. A diver attaches a tracking tag to a speckle-skinned whale shark. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Paul Morris. The full video and credits can be found on the NASA SVS page. 4. NASA Measures Changes in Sea Level Rise and Climate Patterns NASA has been measuring ocean height for almost 30 years, starting with the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite mission from 1992-2006 and continuing with the Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, Jason-3 and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich missions. these satellites can detect changes in ocean height within an inch, giving extremely precise measurements of sea level. This information is crucial for understanding storm severity, sea level rise and climate patterns like La Niña, El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that impact marine animals. Sea surface height data is also useful for cleaning up marine oil spills, sustainably managing fisheries, routing ships and understanding the behavior of ocean animals like Stellar sea lions and whales. In addition, sea level measurements are used to derive ocean surface currents and ocean eddies that continuously stir and mix the water, changing its biogeochemistry and thus impacting the behavior and migration patterns of sharks. This visualization shows total sea level change between 1992 and 2019, with orange/red regions indicating where sea levels are rising. Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. Download this image and similar animations on the NASA SVS site. 5. NASA Is Developing New Missions to Study Earth's Oceans NASA has three new missions planned to study the ocean. Scheduled to launch in 2022, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will measure small-scale ocean currents and swirling eddies to better understand the mixing and transport of water and nutrients as well as the dispersal of pollution into the ocean. Monitoring ocean eddies is important to predict migratory patterns of megafauna, including sharks. SWOT is jointly developed by NASA and CNES with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and United Kingdom Space Agency. The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission will use next generation "ocean color" technology to learn more about phytoplankton that live in the upper ocean. In addition to being the base of the marine food web, phytoplankton play a similar role to land plants by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. The Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer (GLIMR) instrument will provide unique observations of ocean biology, chemistry and ecology in the Gulf of Mexico, portions of the southeastern United States coastline and the mouth of the Amazon River where it enters the Atlantic Ocean. In the future, NASA's upcoming Earth System Observatory will use new and innovative techniques to study all facets of our planet, including the more than 70% of Earth's surface covered by ocean. An artist’s impression of the future SWOT satellite making sea surface observations, even through clouds. Credit: Centre National D'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
  • How Much Carbon Dioxide Are We Emitting?
    [[SCROLLYSTORY||142||{"hide_chunk_titles":true}||scrolly_co2_demo carbon_feature]] In 1900, almost 2 billion metric tons of CO2 were released due to fossil fuel usage. By 1960, that number had more than quadrupled to over 9 billion metric tons. The latest data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center shows that over 35 billion metric tons of CO2 were released in 2014. * Because emissions are only partially reduced by natural land and ocean sinks, the rest of the annual carbon dioxide emissions from the human burning of fossil fuels remains in Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the annual year-over-year rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, as seen here. Explore NASA's climate vital signs to learn more about carbon dioxide and other factors related to climate change. * Latest annual data from CDIAC Data sources: Our World in Data, CDIAC Learn More FAQ: How might Earth’s atmosphere, land, and ocean systems respond to changes in carbon dioxide over time?
  • Mosquito Bites and Satellites: Tracking Mosquito-Borne Disease with Earth Data
    Mosquitos are unwelcome guests at outdoor summer events across America — and thanks to rising global temperatures, they’re becoming more prevalent and sticking around longer. A warmer planet has also brought invasive mosquito species to American soil, accompanied by mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus. From 2004 to 2016, there has been a tenfold increase in cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earth-observing satellites, in combination with ground-level surveillance data, are helping to map the locations of disease-carrying insects to keep communities safe. Through a website called VectorSurv, mosquito control agencies and public health officials nationwide can access daily updated maps to monitor which communities are most at risk from invasive, potential disease-carrying mosquitoes. Partially funded by NASA grants in 2015, VectorSurv’s early warning system allows officials to monitor and respond to potential outbreaks with agility, nipping outbreaks in the bud and reducing human suffering. More about how VectorSurv is being used across the U.S. in the story, NASA Helps Fight the Mosquito Bite Coast-to-Coast.
  • Mapping Tropical Forest Health with NASA Satellite Data
    When assessing the world’s tropical forests, size isn’t the only thing that matters. NASA’s high-resolution satellite data now allow scientists to measure forest quality by tree height, forest canopy thickness and disturbances from logging, fires and more. Beyond being some of the world’s most species-rich environments, tropical forests also play a crucial role in fighting climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That has led conservation groups and governments to create maps showing both extent and quality of forests. According to research using NASA satellite data, despite roughly half of all tropical forests qualify as “high quality,” only 6.5% of them currently have formal protections against logging, hunting and other human threats. The United Nations Development Programme is using these maps in their decision-making. At the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference, currently scheduled for October, 196 countries will set global biodiversity priorities for the next 30 years. With access to more detailed information on forest health than ever before, researchers have an opportunity to work with government leaders to set realistic targets and establish closer monitoring over the coming decade. Learn more about how NASA satellite data can help detect and protect tropical forests in the story, Pinpointing Tropical Forests with High Ecological 'Quality.'
  • Getting a Bird's-Eye View of Food Insecurity with Catherine Nakalembe
    Every year millions of people worldwide suffer from hunger and food insecurity. Climate change —and increased drought, pests and other climate-related side effects — threatens to further impact every facet of food production, from food quality to people’s ability to access it. That’s why scientists like Catherine Nakalembe use Earth data to monitor crop health. Nakalembe helps farmers and government decision makers prepare for and mitigate changes to their food supply. A principal investigator for SERVIR, a joint venture between NASA Earth Science Applied Sciences’ Capacity Building program area and the U.S. Agency for International Development, Nakalembe helps countries launch or improve their crop monitoring programs. Using historical and real-time satellite data, farmers in eastern and southern Africa can make informed decisions about emergencies, food insecurity and impacts to agricultural markets. Nakalembe grew up in Uganda and came to America for graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, later pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. It was during her studies that she discovered her passion for using satellite data and mapping to help communities increase food security. Throughout her career, she has shattered people’s preconceptions about what a scientist should look like and works to inspire other young women of color to pursue their dreams in STEM as well. Learn more about Nakalembe’s life and work in the story, Mapping the Future of Food Security: Catherine Nakalembe.
  • NASA's AIRS Tracks Record-Breaking Heat Wave in Pacific Northwest
    The AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite collected temperature readings in the atmosphere and at the surface during an unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada that started around June 26. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In Brief: The science instrument mapped the dome of high pressure that settled over the northwestern U.S. and western Canada in late June, sending temperatures into the triple digits. An unprecedented heat wave that started around June 26 smashed numerous all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), aboard the Aqua satellite, captured the progression of this slow-moving heat dome across the region from June 21 to 30. An animation of some of the AIRS data show surface air temperature anomalies – values above or below long-term averages. Surface air temperature is something that people directly feel when they are outside. In many cases, the highs exceeded previous temperature records by several degrees or more. On June 28, Quillayute, Washington, set an all-time high temperature record of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), shattering the old record of 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Numerous weather stations broke records on consecutive days, showing the unprecedented nature of this extreme heat, which is also being blamed for a number of fatalities. In British Columbia, the village of Lytton set a new all-time record for Canada at 119 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) on June 29, only to break it the next day with a reading of 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The AIRS instrument recorded similar temperature anomalies at an altitude of about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), showing that the extreme heat also affected mountainous regions. And temperature anomalies at roughly 18,000 feet (5,500 meters) demonstrated that the heat dome extended high into Earth’s troposphere, creating the conditions for intense heat at the planet’s surface that are normally found farther south. 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 the planet’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 aboard NASA’s Aqua spacecraft, the AIRS and AMSU instruments are managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of Caltech. 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
  • Study Projects a Surge in Coastal Flooding, Starting in 2030s
    In Brief: In the mid-2030s, every U.S. coast will experience rapidly increasing high-tide floods, when a lunar cycle will amplify rising sea levels caused by climate change. High-tide floods – also called nuisance floods or sunny day floods – are already a familiar problem in many cities on the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported a total of more than 600 such floods in 2019. Starting in the mid-2030s, however, the alignment of rising sea levels with a lunar cycle will cause coastal cities all around the U.S. to begin a decade of dramatic increases in flood numbers, according to the first study that takes into account all known oceanic and astronomical causes for floods. Led by the members of the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii, the new study shows that high tides will exceed known flooding thresholds around the country more often. What’s more, the floods will sometimes occur in clusters lasting a month or longer, depending on the positions of the Moon, Earth, and the Sun. When the Moon and Earth line up in specific ways with each other and the Sun, the resulting gravitational pull and the ocean’s corresponding response may leave city dwellers coping with floods every day or two. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » “Low-lying areas near sea level are increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The combination of the Moon’s gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world. NASA’s Sea Level Change Team is providing crucial information so that we can plan, protect, and prevent damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods affected by flooding.” “It’s the accumulated effect over time that will have an impact,” said Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and the lead author of the new study, entitled "Rapid increases and extreme months in projections of United States high-tide flooding," published last month in Nature Climate Change. Thompson pointed out that because high-tide floods involve a small amount of water compared to hurricane storm surges, there’s a tendency to view them as a less significant problem overall. “But if it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can’t keep operating with its parking lot under water. People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue.” Why will cities on such widely separated coastlines begin to experience these higher rates of flooding at almost the same time? The main reason is a regular wobble in the Moon’s orbit that takes 18.6 years to complete. There’s nothing new or dangerous about the wobble; it was first reported in 1728. What’s new is how one of the wobble’s effects on the Moon’s gravitational pull – the main cause of Earth’s tides – will combine with rising sea levels resulting from the planet’s warming. In half of the Moon’s 18.6-year cycle, Earth’s regular daily tides are suppressed: High tides are lower than normal, and low tides are higher than normal. In the other half of the cycle, tides are amplified: High tides get higher, and low tides get lower. Global sea level rise pushes high tides in only one direction – higher. So half of the 18.6-year lunar cycle counteracts the effect of sea level rise on high tides, and the other half increases the effect. The Moon is in the tide-amplifying part of its cycle now. However, along most U.S. coastlines, sea levels have not risen so much that even with this lunar assist, high tides regularly top flooding thresholds. It will be a different story the next time the cycle comes around to amplify tides again, in the mid-2030s. Global sea level rise will have been at work for another decade. The higher seas, amplified by the lunar cycle, will cause a leap in flood numbers on almost all U.S. mainland coastlines, Hawaii, and Guam. Only far northern coastlines, including Alaska’s, will be spared for another decade or longer because these land areas are rising due to long-term geological processes. The researchers uncovered these tipping points in flood numbers by studying 89 tide gauge locations in every coastal U.S. state and territory but Alaska. They created a new statistical framework that mapped NOAA’s widely used sea level rise scenarios and flooding thresholds, the number of times those thresholds have been exceeded annually, astronomical cycles, and statistical representations of other processes, such as El Niño events, that are known to affect tides. They projected results to 2080. Ben Hamlington of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California is a co-author of the paper and also the leader of NASA’s Sea Level Change Team. He notes that the findings of the new study are a vital resource for coastal urban planners, who may be focused on preparing for extreme events rather than more high-tide floods. “From a planning perspective, it’s important to know when we’ll see an increase,” Hamlington said. “Understanding that all your events are clustered in a particular month, or you might have more severe flooding in the second half of a year than the first – that’s useful information.” A high-tide flood tool developed by Thompson already exists on the NASA team’s sea level portal, a resource for decision-makers and the general public. The flood tool will be updated in the near future with the findings from this study. News Media Contacts Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • Assembly of Satellite to Track World's Water Shifts From US to France
    In Brief: Set for launch next year, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission will help scientists monitor Earth’s ocean, as well as the amount of fresh water in its lakes and rivers. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission took a big step toward launch this week when a team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California shipped the scientific heart of the satellite to France. A U.S. Air Force C-17 airplane carrying the hardware – which includes finely tuned research instruments – left March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, on June 27. It arrived today, June 30, at a Thales Alenia Space clean room facility near Cannes, France, where engineers and technicians will spend the next year integrating the hardware with the rest of the satellite. Some of the people who helped to load the hardware for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite’s research instruments onto a C-17 airplane pose for a picture. The payload left March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, on June 27 and is headed to France. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech “Sunday was a long day under very hot conditions, but the team did a great job packing the hardware into the plane. Now that the payload is in France, we’re a major step closer to finishing this satellite and getting to launch,” said Parag Vaze, SWOT project manager at JPL. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » SWOT is a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatial (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA). The SUV-size spacecraft will make global surveys of Earth’s surface water. By measuring its height, researchers can track the volume and location of the finite resource around the world. The data will help with monitoring changes in flood plains and wetlands, measure how much fresh water flows into and out of lakes and rivers and back to the ocean, and track regional shifts in sea level. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission (SWOT) will help scientists monitor Earth’s ocean, as well as the amount of fresh water in its lakes and rivers when it launches in late 2022. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The information SWOT will provide on small-scale ocean currents will also support real-time ocean activities like shipping that are affected by tides, currents, storm surges, and other natural phenomena. And SWOT data will provide, for the first time, global observations of how circular currents, called eddies, affect how the ocean stores heat and releases it into the atmosphere, as well as how carbon moves through the marine environment. Several of JPL’s engineers and technicians are following the hardware to France. Once there, they’ll help their counterparts with CNES and their prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space, complete the build. Once done, SWOT will make the journey back to California, where it will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base no earlier than November 2022. This illustration shows the SWOT satellite in orbit around Earth, with two antennas on either side of the spacecraft, as well as two large solar panels. SWOT will provide about a terabyte of data each day about the amount and distribution of Earth’s surface water to researchers. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech More About the Mission Part of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite’s science instrument payload sits in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory during assembly. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech SWOT is being jointly developed by NASA and CNES, with contributions from the CSA and UKSA. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system payload, NASA is providing the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, and a two-beam microwave radiometer. CNES is providing the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) system, nadir altimeter, and the KaRIn RF subsystem (with support from the UKSA). CSA is providing the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA is providing associated launch services. To learn more about the mission, visit: https://swot.jpl.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
  • Major Ocean-Observing Satellite Starts Providing Science Data
    In Brief: Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the latest spacecraft to monitor sea surface height, releases its first science measurements to users. After six months of check-out and calibration in orbit, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will make its first two data streams available to the public on June 22. It launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 21, 2020, and is a U.S.-European collaboration to measure sea surface height and other key ocean features, such as ocean surface wind speed and wave height. One of the sea surface height data streams that will be released is accurate to 2.3 inches (5.8 centimeters) and will be available within hours of when the instruments aboard Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich collect it. A second stream of data, accurate to 1.4 inches (3.5 centimeters), will be released two days after collection. The difference in when the products become available balances accuracy with delivery timeliness for tasks like forecasting the weather and helping to monitor the formation of hurricanes. More datasets, which will be accurate to about 1.2 inches (2.9 centimeters), are slated for distribution later this year and are intended for research activities and climate science including tracking global mean sea level rise. Find out more about Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich as it orbits Earth to collect critical sea level and atmospheric data. Click anywhere on the image to take it for a spin. View the full interactive experience and fly along with the mission in real time at Earth Now. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The satellite, named after former NASA Earth Science Division Director Michael Freilich, collects its measurements for about 90% of the world’s oceans. It is one of two satellites that compose the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission. The second satellite, Sentinel-6B, is slated for launch in 2025. Together, they are the latest in a series of spacecraft starting with TOPEX/Poseidon in 1992 and continuing with the Jason series of satellites that have been gathering precise ocean height measurements for nearly 30 years. Shortly after launch, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich moved into position, trailing the current reference sea level satellite Jason-3 by 30 seconds. Scientists and engineers then spent time cross-calibrating the data collected by both satellites to ensure the continuity of measurements between the two. Once they have are assured of the data quality, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will then become the primary sea level satellite. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » “It’s a relief knowing that the satellite is working and that the data look good,” said Josh Willis, project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Several months from now, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will take over for its predecessor, Jason-3, and this data release is the first step in that process.” Keeping an Eye on Rising Seas The ocean absorbs 90% of the heat trapped in the Earth system due to increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The resulting warming seawater expands, contributing to the ongoing rise in global sea level. Monitoring ocean height is important because it helps forecasters predict things, including ocean currents and potential hurricane strength. “These initial data show that Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is an amazing new tool that will help to improve marine and weather forecasts,” said Eric Leuliette, program and project scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Maryland. “In a changing climate, it’s a great achievement that these data are ready for release.” Ocean Altimetry Programme Manager Julia Figa Saldana of EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), added that the operational release of the first data streams from this unique ocean altimetry mission was a significant milestone at the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. “The altimetry data are now being processed at EUMESAT headquarters in Darmstadt, from where the satellite is also being controlled, and released to ocean and weather forecasting data users around the world for their operational usage,” Saldana said. Scientists also anticipate using the data to gauge how fast sea levels are rising because of climate change. The expansion of warm seawater accounts for about one-third of modern-day sea level rise, while meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets accounts for the rest. The rate at which the oceans are rising has accelerated over the past two decades, and researchers 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. More About the Mission Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by ESA (European Space Agency), EUMETSAT, NASA, and NOAA, with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from France's National Centre for Space Studies. 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 U.S. members of the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team. For more about Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6 To access data from Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit: https://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/ https://search.earthdata.nasa.gov/search?q=sentinel-6 News Media Contacts Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • Machine Learning Model Doubles Accuracy of Global Landslide ‘Nowcasts'
    In Brief: The upgraded interactive mapping tool can show you potential landslide activity anywhere between the poles in near-real-time. Every year, landslides – the movement of rock, soil, and debris down a slope – cause thousands of deaths, billions of dollars in damages, and disruptions to roads and power lines. Because terrain, characteristics of the rocks and soil, weather, and climate all contribute to landslide activity, accurately pinpointing areas most at risk of these hazards at any given time can be a challenge. Early warning systems are generally regional – based on region-specific data provided by ground sensors, field observations, and rainfall totals. But what if we could identify at-risk areas anywhere in the world at any time? Enter NASA’s Global Landslide Hazard Assessment (LHASA) model and mapping tool. LHASA Version 2, released last month along with corresponding research, is a machine-learning-based model that analyzes a collection of individual variables and satellite-derived datasets to produce customizable “nowcasts.” These timely and targeted nowcasts are estimates of potential landslide activity in near-real time for each 1-square-kilometer area between the poles. The model factors in the slope of the land (higher slopes are more prone to landslides), distance to geologic faults, the makeup of rock, past and present rainfall, and satellite-derived soil moisture and snow mass data. “The model processes all of this data and outputs a probabilistic estimate of landslide hazard in the form of an interactive map,” said Thomas Stanley, Universities Space Research Association scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the research. “This is valuable because it provides a relative scale of landslide hazard, rather than just saying there is or is not landslide risk. Users can define their area of interest and adjust the categories and probability threshold to suit their needs.” Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » In order to “teach” the model, researchers input a table with all of the relevant landslide variables and many locations that have recorded landslides in the past. The machine learning algorithm takes the table and tests out different possible scenarios and outcomes, and when it finds the one that fits the data most accurately, it outputs a decision tree. It then identifies the errors in the decision tree and calculates another tree that fixes those errors. This process continues until the model has “learned” and improved 300 times. “The result is that this version of the model is roughly twice as accurate as the first version of the model, making it the most accurate global nowcasting tool available,” said Stanley. “While the accuracy is highest – often 100% – for major landslide events triggered by tropical cyclones, it improved significantly across all inventories.” Version 1, released in 2018, was not a machine learning model. It combined satellite precipitation data with a global landslide susceptibility map to produce its nowcasts. It made its predictions using one decision tree largely based on rainfall data from the preceding week and categorized each grid cell as low, moderate, or high risk. “In this new version, we have 300 trees of better and better information compared with the first version, which was based on just one decision tree,” Stanley said. “Version 2 also incorporates more variables than its predecessor, including soil moisture and snow mass data.” Generally speaking, soil can only absorb so much water before becoming saturated and, combined with other conditions, posing a landslide risk. By incorporating soil moisture data, the model can discern how much water is already present in the soil and how much additional rainfall would push it past that threshold. Likewise, if the model knows the amount of snow present in a given area, it can factor in the additional water entering the soil as the snow melts. This data comes from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, which is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. It launched in 2015 and provides continuous soil moisture coverage. LHASA Version 2 also adds a new exposure feature that analyzes the distribution of roads and population in each grid cell to calculate the number of people or infrastructure exposed to landslide hazards. The exposure data is downloadable and has been integrated into the interactive map. Adding this type of information about exposed roads and populations vulnerable to landslides helps improve situational awareness and actions by stakeholders, from international organizations to local officials. This image shows a landslide “nowcast” for Nov. 18, 2020 during the passage of Hurricane Iota through Nicaragua and Honduras. Credit: NASA Building on years of research and applications, LHASA Version 2 was tested by the NASA Disasters program and stakeholders in real-world situations leading up to its formal release. In November 2020, when hurricanes Eta and Iota struck Central America within a span of two weeks, researchers working with NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Disasters program used LHASA Version 2 to generate maps of predicted landslide hazard for Guatemala and Honduras. The researchers overlaid the model with district-level population data so they could better assess the proximity between potential hazards and densely populated communities. Disasters program coordinators shared the information with national and international emergency response agencies to provide better insight of the hazards to personnel on the ground. While it is a useful tool for planning and risk mitigation purposes, Stanley says the model is meant to be used with a global perspective in mind rather than as a local emergency warning system for any specific area. However, future research may expand that goal. “We are working on incorporating a precipitation forecast into LHASA Version 2, and we hope it will provide further information for advanced planning and actions prior to major rainfall events,” said Stanley. One challenge, Stanley notes, is obtaining a long-enough archive of forecasted precipitation data from which the model can learn. In the meantime, governments, relief agencies, emergency responders, and other stakeholders (as well as the general public) have access to a powerful risk assessment tool in LHASA Version 2. To learn more and to access the current map, please visit: https://landslides.nasa.gov/viewer 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
  • Local Lockdowns Brought Fast Global Ozone Reductions, NASA Finds
    In Brief: When lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic cut local nitrogen oxide emissions, the effect on ozone pollution was global and unexpectedly rapid. As the coronavirus pandemic slowed global commerce to a crawl in early 2020, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – which create ozone, a danger to human health and to climate – decreased 15% globally, with local reductions as high as 50%, according to a study led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. As a result of the lower NOx emissions, by June 2020, global ozone levels had dropped to a level that policymakers thought would take at least 15 years to reach by conventional means, such as regulations. The study shows that innovative technologies and other solutions intended to decrease NOx locally have the potential to rapidly improve air quality and climate globally. It published today in Science Advances. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Ozone protects us from destructive solar radiation when it’s high above Earth in the stratosphere. Closer to the ground, though, it has other lasting impacts. Ozone at the surface was estimated to cause 365,000 deaths globally in 2019 by damaging the lungs of vulnerable people, such as young children and those with asthma. Similarly, it damages the breathing systems of plants – their ability to photosynthesize – reducing plant growth and crop yields. And at the top of the troposphere, it’s a potent greenhouse gas, increasing global temperatures. As the coronavirus pandemic slowed global commerce to a crawl in early 2020, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – which create ozone, a danger to human health and to climate – decreased 15% globally with local reductions as high as 50%, according to a study led by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio When the world went into lockdown, scientists had an unprecedented opportunity to study how human activity interacts with natural Earth system processes at regional and global scales. A team of international researchers led by JPL scientist Kazuyuki Miyazaki used this opportunity to research the two main oxides of nitrogen: nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, collectively called NOx. They charted the chain of events from reduced fossil fuel burning during lockdowns to reduced local NOx emissions and finally to reduced global tropospheric ozone pollution. The more stringent the lockdown a nation imposed, the greater the reduction in emissions. For example, China’s stay-at-home orders in early February 2020 produced a 50% drop in NOx emissions in some cities within a few weeks; most U.S. states achieved a 25% drop later in the spring. The total result of the reduced NOx emissions was a 2% drop in global ozone – half the amount that the most aggressive NOx emission controls considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authoritative body of international experts on climate, were expected to produce over a 30-year period. Ozone reductions from the reduced NOx emissions quickly spread both around the globe and from the surface upward more than 6 miles (10 kilometers). “I was really surprised at how large the impact on global ozone was,” said JPL scientist Jessica Neu, a co-author of the new study. “We expected more of a local response at the surface.” The reactions that transform NOx into ozone require sunlight and depend on many additional factors, such as weather and what other chemicals are in the air. These factors interact in so many ways that, in some circumstances, reducing NOx emissions actually increases ozone. So researchers can’t understand or predict ozone concentrations from NOx emissions data alone. That requires a more thorough analysis, like this study. The researchers used measurements of NOx, ozone, and other atmospheric gases from five NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) Earth-observing satellites. They fed the multiple satellite observations into four numerical models of atmospheric chemical reactions and weather, using a data analysis system developed at JPL. They found that the changes in the models’ atmospheres matched the satellite observations well and reproduced known increases and decreases in emissions as regions went into and out of lockdowns. These findings indicate that both NOx emissions and global ozone will climb again as the world economy revs back up. “I was very happy that our analysis system was able to capture the detailed changes in emissions across the world,” said Miyazaki. “The challenging and unprecedented nature of this work is a testament to improvements in satellite monitoring in service of societal needs.” This new capability of combining multiple types of satellite observations and models is already unlocking new understanding of Earth’s atmosphere and how it is changing. The research team also included scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokohama, Nagoya University in Japan, and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt. News Media Contacts Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • NASA Map Gives Most Accurate Space-Based View of LA's Carbon Dioxide
    This animation shows the accumulation of data from NASA’s OCO-3 instrument used to create a map of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations that covers about 50 square miles (80 square kilometers) of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The highest concentrations are in yellow. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In Brief: Such detailed maps could help policymakers choose the most effective ways of cutting carbon emissions. Using data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) instrument on the International Space Station, researchers have released one of the most accurate maps ever made from space of the human influence on carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The map shows tiny variations in airborne CO2 from one mile of the giant L.A. Basin to the next. The highest CO2 readings, in yellow on the map, are on the west side of downtown L.A. – a densely populated area with congested freeways and CO2-emitting industries. Yellow indicates atmospheric CO2 elevated by five or more molecules out of every million molecules of air, or five parts per million. That’s equivalent to the amount that global atmospheric CO2 is rising globally on average every two years. The animation shows five adjoining swaths of data the OCO-3 instrument collected over the metropolitan area to create a map of CO2 concentrations that covers about 50 square miles (80 square kilometers). Each pixel is about 1.3 miles (2.2 kilometers); the color indicates how much higher the concentration of CO2 is in that spot than in clean desert air north of the city (measured at NASA’s Armstrong Research Center, upper right). Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » Most of the increasing CO2 in the global atmosphere comes from humans burning fossil fuels for energy, and 70% of that comes from cities. Los Angeles has set goals for cutting its carbon emissions. This type of data can help decisionmakers choose the most effective policies to reach those goals and to measure the effectiveness of new regulations. Data from ground level provides critical local measurements, but satellite data is equally necessary because it covers a wider area and also measures CO2 throughout the entire depth of the atmosphere. The International Space Station, which hosts the OCO-3 instrument, circles Earth between 52 degrees north and 52 degrees south latitudes – about the latitudes of London and Patagonia. Almost all cities on Earth come within its view on average once every three days. The OCO-3 team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California schedules measurements at up to 40 locations a day. Most of these targets are high-CO2-emitting cities. The instrument consists of a telescope and three spectrometers, a kind of instrument that analyzes wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum of sunlight to find the spectral “fingerprint” of carbon dioxide. The telescope swivels rapidly to collect as many adjoining swaths of data as possible over a targeted location within two minutes. OCO-3 usually collects a single swath of data as it orbits, like its predecessor the OCO-2 mission (which is still operating), but it’s designed to create snapshot maps like this one to give researchers a more complete picture of emissions from cities and other areas of interest. The maps were published this week in a paper in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment. News Media Contacts Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • Study Identifies Methane ‘Super-Emitters' in Largest US Oilfield
    In Brief: Fixing just the worst leaks in the Permian Basin oilfield’s infrastructure could cut methane emissions by 55 tons an hour, according to a study by NASA, University of Arizona, and ASU. About half of the biggest sources of the potent greenhouse gas methane in the Permian Basin oilfield are likely to be malfunctioning oilfield equipment, according to a month-long airborne study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. Repeatedly measuring the size and persistence of emission sources using sensor-equipped aircraft, researchers found that repairing only the 123 sources that they found leaking most persistently on their flights would reduce methane emissions by 55 tons (50 metric tons) an hour. That’s equivalent to 5.5% of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s estimates of all methane emissions from oil and gas production in the entire United States. The research team measured methane concentrations around “super-emitter” methane sources – those emitting more than 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of methane per hour – in the oilfield, which is located in Texas and New Mexico. They calculated the emission rates by combining observed methane concentrations with reported wind speeds. Using airborne imaging spectrometers that identify methane and other gases by their effects on reflected sunlight, the campaign located a total of 1,756 super-emitters in a 22,000-square-mile (57,000-square-kilometer) section of the immense oilfield. As they resurveyed the area throughout the month, the team recorded emissions each time a plume was visible, whether once or a dozen times. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » “Multiple revisits of these sites are the best way to discriminate between unplanned and planned emissions,” said Daniel Cusworth, a JPL scientist and lead author of an analysis published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Cusworth explained that while some regular operations in an oilfield, such as venting pressure-relief valves, release methane, plumes from these planned operations would probably be visible on only one or two consecutive flights. If an emission plume persists, by far the most likely cause is malfunctioning or broken oil and gas equipment. There’s no other industry in the region that could produce such large plumes, and there are more than 60,000 oil and gas wells as well as compressors, pipelines, and other types of equipment – all of which can potentially leak. For their analysis, Cusworth and colleagues focused on 1,100 sources seen emitting methane plumes on at least three flights. Just 123 of these were classified as most persistent, with plumes visible on 50 to 100% of revisits. These few sources emitted about 29% of all the methane detected from the entire group. The 258 plumes in the next most persistent class produced an additional 23% of detected emissions; the researchers think these sources are leaks or a mixture of leaks and planned operations. They classified the remaining two-thirds of the sources as least persistent and most likely to be the result of planned operations. This last and largest class produced 48% of emissions. Once methane sources have been located and verified on the ground by facility operators, there’s a good chance that leaks can be repaired, said Riley Duren of the University of Arizona, who designed and led the flight campaign. “We’ve done cooperative studies with oil and gas operators in California and the Permian where they independently report that 50% of the sources we’re finding are fixable.” The campaign also recorded surprisingly large variations in the extent of emissions. In one part of the basin, emissions almost doubled over a five-day period and then dropped back almost to the original value over another 10 days. These large, unpredictable variations prove that a single snapshot of methane emissions from any location is inadequate for decision-makers to monitor and regulate emission sources, Duren said. “You need measurements daily or weekly,” he added. “That’s a big argument for using airborne and satellite remote sensing.” The imaging spectrometers used in the study, NASA’s Next-Generation Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer and ASU’s Global Airborne Observatory, are able to pinpoint methane sources to within about 15 to 30 feet (5 to 10 meters) while flying at the altitude of a commercial airliner. When methane emission plumes were detected, researchers used a high-resolution camera to relate the plumes to individual pieces of equipment on the ground. Data from this study can be viewed and downloaded at the team’s data portal. News Media Contacts Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-0307 jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov
  • Satellites Show How Earth's Water Cycle Is Ramping Up as Climate Warms
    In Brief: NASA scientists have studied 17 years of gravity observations of our planet to understand how the global water cycle is changing. The rate at which plants and the land surface release moisture into the air has increased on a global scale between 2003 and 2019. These processes are collectively known as evapotranspiration, and a new NASA study has calculated its increase by using observations from gravity satellites. By gauging the mass change of water between the oceans and the continents, the researchers determined that evapotranspiration’s rate of increase is up to two times higher than previous estimates. This is important because evapotranspiration represents a critical branch of the global water cycle – a cycle that creates the conditions for life on land. While it is known that a warming climate should increase the rate of evapotranspiration, accurate global measurements have, until now, been elusive. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » “Our study found that evapotranspiration has increased by about 10% since 2003, which is more than previously estimated, and is mostly due to warming temperatures,” said Madeleine Pascolini-Campbell, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, who led the study. “We hope that this information about the water cycle will help to better inform the development and validation of climate models.” But how does the rate of evapotranspiration affect the global water cycle? As moisture from the oceans circulates through the atmosphere, a portion falls as precipitation over the continents. Some of this water goes into rivers as runoff, and some seeps into soils. The remaining water evaporates from the land and transpires from plants back into the air. Finding that evapotranspiration is increasing at a faster rate than previously known has implications for understanding how climate change could impact Earth in the future. As the world warms, evapotranspiration will accelerate, speeding up the drying of land and vegetation. Weather patterns can also be affected: Increased evaporation from land can create droughts in some regions. This is a symptom of a warming world that can have major consequences for ecosystems and human societies as stress on surface and groundwater supplies increases. “Images of melting glaciers and shrinking ice sheets are a palpable way for us to understand the impacts of global warming,” said Pascolini-Campbell. “But dramatic changes are also happening to other key components of our planet’s water cycle that aren’t so visible, such as when water evaporates from the land before it can enter the rivers as runoff.” The Gravity of Water To get a global estimate of how evapotranspiration is changing, researchers found a new way to leverage data collected by the pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites that operated from 2002 to 2017, and the successor pair, GRACE Follow-On, that launched in 2018. The GRACE mission was launched by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and GRACE-FO is a partnership between NASA and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ). Because water has mass and therefore contributes to the Earth’s gravity signal, these spacecraft are exquisitely sensitive to the movement of water around the world, from tracking changes in ice sheets to water stored on land to variations in ocean mass. Seeing an opportunity, the researchers studied the 17-year dataset from GRACE and GRACE-FO to see if it was possible to tease out the gravitational signal associated with the movement of water by evapotranspiration. “With the combined record of GRACE and GRACE-FO, we now have a long-enough observational record to be able to monitor these critical signs of global change,” said JT Reager, a JPL scientist and an investigator on the study. “When the gravity signal decreases, it means the land is losing water. Some of that loss is through rivers flowing back into the oceans, but the rest of it goes up into the atmosphere as evapotranspiration.” By subtracting all the water mass outputs from the inputs over land and then calculating the residual mass of water, the researchers were able to estimate the rate of evapotranspiration. They did this by subtracting independent estimates of global river discharge (in other words, the rate of water flowing through rivers to the ocean) and GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite data (that reveal the local changes in water mass on and in the ground) from global precipitation measurements to find out the mass of water being lost to the atmosphere. Due to observational and measurement challenges, global estimates of evapotranspiration are typically approximated using models or by taking measurements from individual locations and then scaling those measurements up. But these methods can be prone to error. By measuring global mass changes using gravity satellite observations, however, the researchers were able to get a more precise estimate for the rate of global evapotranspiration. Using this method, they found that evapotranspiration increased from 405 millimeters (about 16 inches) per year in 2003 to 444 millimeters (about 17.5 inches) per year in 2019. That represents an upward trend of 2.30 millimeters (about 0.1 inches) per year –a 10% increase – with a corresponding uncertainty of 0.5 millimeters (0.02 inches) per year, or 2%. “For years, we’ve been looking for a way to measure gross changes in the global water cycle, and finally we’ve found it,” said Reager. “The magnitude of the evapotranspiration increases really surprised us: This is a sizable signal indicating our planet’s water cycle is changing.” These results add to a growing body of research about our planet’s water cycle while also underlining the importance of continuity for Earth observations. Continuous satellite observations by satellites with a global view of water mass changes provide the long record necessary to observe the changing planet over the decades. These observations also help scientists track year-to-year variability in the water cycle caused by climate change and natural cycles. The study, titled: “A 10% increase in global land evapotranspiration from 2003 to 2019,” was published May 26 in Nature. In addition to JPL, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, contributed to this research. 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 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 NASA Earth System Observatory to Help Address, Mitigate Climate Change
    NASA will design a new set of Earth-focused missions to provide key information to guide efforts related to climate change, disaster mitigation, fighting forest fires, and improving real-time agricultural processes. With the Earth System Observatory, each satellite will be uniquely designed to complement the others, working in tandem to create a 3D, holistic view of Earth, from bedrock to atmosphere. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact of hurricanes made more intense and destructive by climate change, like Maria and Irma. The Biden-Harris Administration’s response to climate change matches the magnitude of the threat: a whole of government, all hands-on-deck approach to meet this moment,” said NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson. “Over the past three decades, much of what we’ve learned about the Earth’s changing climate is built on NASA satellite observations and research. NASA’s new Earth System Observatory will expand that work, providing the world with an unprecedented understanding of our Earth’s climate system, arming us with next-generation data critical to mitigating climate change, and protecting our communities in the face of natural disasters.” Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The observatory follows recommendations from the 2017 Earth Science Decadal Survey by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which lays out ambitious but critically necessary research and observation guidance. Areas of focus for the observatory include: Aerosols: Answering the critical question of how aerosols affect the global energy balance, a key source of uncertainty in predicting climate change. Cloud, Convection, and Precipitation: Tackling the largest sources of uncertainty in future projections of climate change, air quality forecasting, and prediction of severe weather. Mass Change: Providing drought assessment and forecasting, associated planning for water use for agriculture, as well as supporting natural hazard response. Surface Biology and Geology: Understanding climate changes that impact food and agriculture, habitation, and natural resources, by answering open questions about the fluxes of carbon, water, nutrients, and energy within and between ecosystems and the atmosphere, the ocean, and the Earth. Surface Deformation and Change: Quantifying models of sea-level and landscape change driven by climate change, hazard forecasts, and disaster impact assessments, including dynamics of earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, glaciers, groundwater, and Earth’s interior. NASA is currently initiating the formulation phase for the observatory. Among its first integrated parts is NASA’s partnership with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which brings together two different kinds of radar systems that can measure changes in Earth’s surface less than a half-inch. This capability will be utilized in one of the observatory’s first missions intended as a pathfinder, called NISAR (NASA-ISRO synthetic aperture radar). This mission will measure some of the planet’s most complex processes such as ice-sheet collapse and natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides. NISAR can assist planners and decision makers with managing both hazards and natural resources in the future. For more information about NASA’s Earth science programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earth News Media Contacts Tylar Greene/Karen Fox Headquarters, Washington 202-358-0030/301-286-6284 Tylar.j.greene@nasa.gov/karen.fox@nasa.gov
  • International Cooperation Award for NASA JPL's Michael Watkins, Michael Gross
    In Brief: The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is honoring Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Watkins and Autonomous Systems Manager Gross, plus two European partners, for work on the GRACE missions. JPL Director Michael Watkins. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics recently bestowed its 2021 International Cooperation Award on JPL Director Michael Watkins and JPL Autonomous Systems Manager Michael Gross, and their counterparts in Germany – Frank Flechtner of GFZ/German Research Centre for Geosciences and Albert Zaglauer of Astrium GmbH. Michael Gross. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Focusing on the GRACE and GRACE-FO missions, the award cites the “outstanding leadership of the international consortium in the planning and implementation of the successful Earth gravity missions.” As with GRACE (short for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), the GRACE Follow-on mission consists of twin spacecraft flying about 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart. By precisely measuring the varying distance between the two spacecraft, scientists can map Earth’s gravity field and detect the effects of ocean currents, glaciers, ice sheets, and other phenomena. The GRACE mission was launched in March 2002 and decommissioned in October 2017. Designed to continue the data record of its predecessor, GRACE-Follow-on launched in May 2018 and remains operational to this day. A GRACE-FO team photo from 2016 includes Michael Gross (front row, far left) and Michael Watkins (front row, third from left). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » The international collaboration was a necessity at first, according to Watkins, an originator of GRACE. He left the University of Texas at Austin to come to JPL and help make the mission a reality, then served as the project scientist leading science development for GRACE and GRACE-FO before becoming JPL director in 2016. “Money was tight, so we needed a partner,” Watkins says. This GRACE alliance turned out to provide so much more than a financial benefit. “We’ve known each other now for 25 years, and the team is so much greater than the sum of its parts,” Watkins adds, pointing out that “we’ve had an incredible amount of research from a viewpoint of science around the world – about 5,000 science papers covering Greenland Ice Sheet melting, water storage around the world,” and other topics of global impact. “The camaraderie is so palpable,” says Gross, who served as GRACE-FO deputy project manager. “We created a family of people who shared a similar passion for the missions that directly affect our home planet.” He notes that the GRACE teams represent “a borderless organization” where everyone worked together, set their egos aside, and learned from each other. Gross says teamwork was especially crucial for the GRACE missions, where extreme precision was needed. The award will be presented virtually at a gala ceremony on Aug 12, 2021 with a potential in-person celebration when pandemic conditions have subsided sufficiently. Gross calls the award “humbling” and says, “It means a lot to me that people I’ve worked with at JPL and abroad are winning this award, together.” News Media Contact Matthew Segal Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-8307 matthew.j.segal@jpl.nasa.gov
  • International Cutting-Edge SWOT Satellite to Survey the World's Water
    In Brief: So just how does the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission expect to measure what’s flowing in the planet’s lakes, rivers, and oceans? A very busy project manager explains. How much water sloshes around in Earth’s lakes, rivers, and oceans? And how does that figure change over time? The upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission plans to find out. Targeting a late-2022 launch date, this SUV-size satellite will measure the height of Earth’s water. SWOT will help researchers understand and track the volume and location of water – a finite resource – around the world, making NASA’s first truly global survey of the planet’s surface water. The data will help to monitor changes in floodplains and wetlands, measure how much fresh water flows into and out of Earth’s lakes and rivers and back to the ocean, and track regional shifts in sea level at scales never seen before. It will provide information on small-scale ocean currents that will support real-time marine operations affected by tides, currents, storm surge, sediment transport, and water quality issues. And the information that SWOT collects will also provide, for the first time, global observational evidence of how circular currents, called eddies, contribute to changes in the ocean, such as to its energy and heat storage, as well as to how carbon moves through the marine environment. But before the mission can do all that, engineers and technicians need to finish building the spacecraft. The payload that will carry the science instruments for this hefty satellite is taking shape in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where rigorous testing is under way. Then in late June, it travels to France, where engineers and technicians from the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatial (CNES), their prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, and JPL will complete the build and prepare the satellite for shipment to its California launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter » JPL Project Manager Parag Vaze (pronounced vah-zay) is central to ensuring the handoff to his CNES counterpart Thierry Lafon goes smoothly. An engineer by training, Vaze has been working on Earth-satellite missions for 25 years at JPL. He’s been the project manager for several missions that measure sea level, including Jason-2, Jason-3, and the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which launched into low-Earth orbit last November while SWOT was undergoing assembly at JPL. SWOT is a big satellite with big ambitions and a demanding timeline. Vaze sat down to answer questions about the important work that lay ahead. This illustration of the SWOT spacecraft shows the two antennas on either side of the satellite, as well as the large solar panels. The satellite will provide a huge amount of information – roughly a terabyte of data each day – about the amount and distribution of Earth’s surface water to researchers. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech What intrigues you the most about SWOT? I think the fresh water aspect of the mission intrigues me the most. The ocean science is absolutely critical to understanding what’s happening with Earth in the mid- to long-term with climate change and sea level rise. But I’m originally from India, and I’ve personally seen the difficulties in obtaining clean fresh water for people. I believe in my heart that that will be the challenge of the next century – even more than finding oil and energy alternatives. How will SWOT help to address that challenge? First, understanding a problem requires information. There are millions of lakes and rivers on Earth that are good sources of fresh water, but we don’t have any real consistent information on them. Most of the information that people do have comes from ground-based instruments in populated areas. Being able to measure those lakes and rivers not only in populated areas consistently, but also those in other areas that aren’t being measured at all will help with the science. And it could also help with finding additional sources of fresh water. SWOT will collect information on bodies of water across the globe, and this information will be freely available to everybody who needs it. SWOT’s going to provide incredibly high-resolution data on the planet’s surface water. What tools will it use to do that? We have the main instrument, the Ka-band Radar Interferometer [KaRIn], which is new. It bounces radar pulses off the surface of water and receives the return signals with two different antennas at the same time. This allows us to triangulate the height of the water’s surface. This is a high-resolution radar that will be able to “see” rivers and other small water bodies on Earth’s surface. The antennas, which stick out about 16 feet [5 meters] on either side of the satellite, will let us cover about 30 miles [50 kilometers] of Earth’s surface to the right and 30 miles [50 kilometers] to the left of the spacecraft. There’s also an altimeter that will look straight down and measure the height of the ocean’s surface. This instrument is similar to altimeters we have on satellites like Jason-3 and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich. We have this more traditional instrument aboard to allow cross-validation with KaRIn data. We also have a radiometer. Water vapor in the atmosphere affects the propagation of radar pulses from the altimeter or KaRIn, which can throw off the surface height measurements. A radiometer allows us to correct for this by measuring the amount of water vapor between the spacecraft and Earth’s surface. Then we have a few precision orbital positioning instruments – including a global position system – that tell us where the satellite is geolocated in space. Those are the science instruments. It sounds like you’ll be generating a lot of information. How much data are we talking about, and how is SWOT going to handle it all? We’re trying to take data 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So overall, we’re planning on downlinking about a terabyte of data every day. We’ve needed to make a couple of additions to the payload to handle all of this information. We’re doing onboard processing – not just compression but actual processing of the ocean data – to help manage the huge amounts of data the satellite sends back to us. And we also have a unique X-band downlink system which can transmit more than 620 megabits per second. How much work goes into building a spacecraft like this? SWOT started to become a reality around 2010, and it has since ramped up to hundreds of engineers and scientists working in the U.S. and Europe, some of whom have invested a significant portion of their careers into this project. The teams have had to work through many cutting-edge development challenges, not only on the satellite but on the ground systems and algorithms. Many of the missions you’ve worked on have been conducted with international partners. This one includes CNES as well as the Canadian Space Agency and the United Kingdom Space Agency. Why has this kind of cooperation been such a big part of your work? Planning, executing, and funding these kinds of missions is a really big endeavor, and it requires commitment and trust. We’ve been successful at this because we can share the burden and the risk. And we’ve been able to do that because the need for the kinds of information that these satellites collect has been expressed across the globe. The problems they’ll help to address are global issues, not just ones that are only happening in places like North America or Europe or Africa. What about the mission keeps you up at night? Everything and nothing. Every day brings numerous and diverse sets of challenges, many of which I don’t foresee, even with years of experience. But, I’m able to sleep because I know that we have extremely talented and dedicated people working together to overcome whatever we’re facing. More About the Mission SWOT is being jointly developed by NASA and CNES, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA). JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system, NASA is providing the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, and a two-beam microwave radiometer. CNES is providing the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) system, nadir altimeter, and the KaRIn RF subsystem (with support from the UKSA). CSA is providing the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA is providing associated launch services. To learn more about the mission, visit: https://swot.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

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