A Closer Look at Our Home Planet
Our view from space shows our planet is changing, but to really understand the details of these changes and what they mean for our future, scientists need a closer look. Over the next six months, we’re taking you on a world tour as we kick off major new field research campaigns to study regions of critical change from land, sea and air.
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Take a look at the eight campaigns we will explore:
CORAL (Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory)
This three-year CORAL mission will use advanced airborne instruments and in-water measurements to survey a portion of the world’s coral reefs. The mission will assess the conditions of these threatened ecosystems to better understand their relation to the environment, including physical, chemical and human factors. With a new understanding of reef condition, the future of this global ecosystem can be predicted.
OMG (Oceans Melting Greenland)
Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission will pave the way for improved estimates of sea level rise by addressing the question: To what extent are the oceans melting Greenland’s ice from below? This mission will observe changing water temperatures and glaciers that reach the ocean around all of Greenland from 2015 to 2020. This year, the OMG mission will fly over the periphery of Greenland to take measurements of the heights and extents of Greenland’s coastal glaciers that reach the ocean and release expendable sensors to measure the temperature and salinity of coastal waters. The OMG field campaign will gather data that will help scientists both understand how the oceans are joining with the atmosphere in melting the vast ice sheet and to predict the extent and timing of the resulting sea level rise.
NAAMES (North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study)
About half the carbon dioxide emitted into Earth’s atmosphere each year ends up in the ocean, and plankton absorb a lot of it. The NAAMES mission studies the world’s largest plankton bloom and how it gives rise to small organic particles that leave the ocean and end up in the atmosphere, ultimately influencing clouds and climate. This mission will be taking measurements from both ship and aircraft in the North Atlantic.
KORUS-AQ (Korea U.S.-Air Quality)
Air quality is a significant environmental concern around the world. Scientists are developing new ways to untangle the different factors that contribute to poor air quality. KORUS-AQ is a joint field study between NASA and the Republic of Korea to advance the ability to monitor air pollution from space. The campaign will assess air quality across urban, rural and coastal South Korea using observations from aircraft, ground sites, ships and satellites to test air quality models and remote sensing methods. Findings from this study will help develop observing systems using models and data to improve air quality assessments for decision makers.
ABoVE (Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment)
The ABoVE mission covers 2.5 million square miles of tundra, forests, permafrost and lakes in Alaska and Northwestern Canada. Scientists from the mission are using satellites and aircraft to study this formidable terrain as it changes in a warming climate. Teams of researchers will also go out into the field to gather additional data. The mission will investigate questions about the role of climate in wildfires, thawing permafrost, wildlife migration habits, insect outbreaks and more.
ATom (Atmospheric Tomography)
The ATom mission takes flight through Earth’s atmosphere to understand how short-lived greenhouse gases like ozone and methane contribute to climate change. In late July through August 2016, a suite of instruments aboard our DC-8 flying laboratory will be hopping down the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. It will then travel north up the Atlantic to Greenland to measure more than 200 gases and particles in the air and their interactions all around the world.
ORACLES (Observations of Clouds above Aerosols and their Interactions)
Southern Africa produces almost a third of the world’s vegetative burning, which sends smoke particles up into the atmosphere, where they eventually mix with stratocumulus clouds over the southeastern Atlantic Ocean. Little is known about how these particles impact the clouds, which play a key role in both regional and global surface temperatures and precipitation. The ORACLES mission is a five-year ground and air campaign aimed at better understanding their interactions and improve on current climate models.
ACT-America (Atmospheric Carbon and Transport – America)
The ACT-America mission will conduct five airborne campaigns across three regions in the eastern United States to study the transport of atmospheric carbon. This region serves as an ideal study area for its productive biosphere, agricultural activity, gas and oil extraction and consumption, dynamic seasonally varying weather patterns and the most extensive carbon cycle and meteorological observing networks on Earth. Using space borne, airborne and ground-based measurements, this mission will enable more accurate and precise estimates for climate management and prediction by studying sources and sinks of greenhouse gases, which act as a thermal blanket for Earth.
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