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NASA’s Terra Satellite captured images of Blue Cut Fire in California

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On August 16th, 2016, at around 10:30am, a brush fire ignited in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles, just to the west of Interstate 15. Within a matter of hours, extreme temperatures, high winds and low humidity allowed the fire to spread rapidly, burning through brush left tinder-dry by years of drought.

By August 17th, the fire had expanded dramatically, and firefighters continue to battle to save homes and evacuate residents.

The MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this image of the destructive Blue Cut wildfire east of Los Angeles midday on Aug. 17. (NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

The MISR instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft captured this image of the destructive Blue Cut wildfire east of Los Angeles midday on Aug. 17. (NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

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NASA Scientists examine Methane Hot Spots in Four Corners area of United States

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In an extensive airborne survey, a NASA-led team has analyzed a previously identified “hot spot” of methane emissions in the Four Corners region of the United States, quantifying both its overall magnitude and the magnitudes of its sources. The study finds that just 10 percent of the individual methane sources are contributing half of the emissions.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, both in Pasadena, California; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Boulder, Colorado; and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, used two JPL airborne spectrometers to identify and measure more than 250 individual sources of methane.

The Four Corners region of New Mexico and Colorado. Numerous light-colored spots are sites of gas and oil development. (Flickr user Doc Searls, CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The Four Corners region of New Mexico and Colorado. Numerous light-colored spots are sites of gas and oil development. (Flickr user Doc Searls, CC-BY-SA 2.0)

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NASA Study creates first ever Map of Underground Water Pollution along United States Coast

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Coastal waters and near-shore groundwater supplies along more than a fifth of coastlines in the continental United States are vulnerable to contamination from previously hidden underground transfers of water between the oceans and land, finds a new study by researchers at The Ohio State University, Columbus, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The study, published online August 4th in the journal Science, offers the first-ever map of the underground flows that connect fresh groundwater beneath the continental United States and seawater in the surrounding oceans. The map highlights areas most vulnerable to degraded water quality from these flows now and in the future.

Hydrogeologists from The Ohio State University used seepage meters to measure underwater groundwater flows. (The Ohio State University)

Hydrogeologists from The Ohio State University used seepage meters to measure underwater groundwater flows. (The Ohio State University)

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NASA Study reveals nearly one-fifth of Global Warming over the years has been missed

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study finds that almost one-fifth of the global warming that has occurred in the past 150 years has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how global temperatures were recorded. The study explains why projections of future climate based solely on historical records estimate lower rates of warming than predictions from climate models.

The study applied the quirks in the historical records to climate model output and then performed the same calculations on both the models and the observations to make the first true apples-to-apples comparison of warming rates.

Difficulties in making weather measurements in the Arctic have led to underrepresentation of this rapidly warming area in historic temperature records. (British Columbia Ministry of Transport)

Difficulties in making weather measurements in the Arctic have led to underrepresentation of this rapidly warming area in historic temperature records. (British Columbia Ministry of Transport)

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NASA study shows during winter months Carbon Emissions in Arctic may go Unobserved

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study has found that in at least part of the Arctic, scientists are not doing as good a job of detecting changes in carbon dioxide during the long, dark winter months as they are at monitoring changes during the short summer.

That’s a concern, because growing Arctic plants can act as a brake on global warming rates by removing carbon from the atmosphere, but increasing cold-season emissions could overwhelm the braking effect and accelerate global warming.

Even after the ground surface freezes in the fall, Alaskan soils can continue to emit carbon. (NOAA/Mandy Lindeberg)

Even after the ground surface freezes in the fall, Alaskan soils can continue to emit carbon. (NOAA/Mandy Lindeberg)

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NASA’s Earth Observing-1 spacecraft discovers Methane Leak from Earth Orbit

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth’s surface.

The observation — by the Hyperion spectrometer on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) — is an important breakthrough in our ability to eventually measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.

In a new paper accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team with scientist David R. Thompson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, detailed the observation, which occurred over Aliso Canyon, near Porter Ranch, California.

Comparison of detected methane plumes over Aliso Canyon, California, acquired 11 days apart in Jan. 2016 by: (left) NASA's AVIRIS instrument on a NASA ER-2 aircraft at 4.1 miles (6.6 kilometers) altitude and (right) by the Hyperion instrument on NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite in low-Earth orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech/GSFC)

Comparison of detected methane plumes over Aliso Canyon, California, acquired 11 days apart in Jan. 2016 by: (left) NASA’s AVIRIS instrument on a NASA ER-2 aircraft at 4.1 miles (6.6 kilometers) altitude and (right) by the Hyperion instrument on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite in low-Earth orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA’s COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) to begin gathering data on Reefs June 6th

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s new COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) field campaign kicks off its data-gathering phase with an operational readiness test on Oahu, Hawaii, starting the week of June 6th. Over the next year, CORAL will conduct airborne and in-water surveys of representative coral reefs from Hawaii to Australia.

By focusing on entire reef ecosystems, CORAL scientists will get state-of-the-art insights into how biological, physical and chemical processes shape and affect the ecosystems. These data will help them answer fundamental questions about how reefs are changing globally due to the effects of climate change and human activities.

A pristine reef in American Samoa. (NOAA/NMFS/PIFSC/CRED, Oceanography Team)

A pristine reef in American Samoa. (NOAA/NMFS/PIFSC/CRED, Oceanography Team)

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NASA Study reveals reasons for Sea Ice Changes at the Arctic, Antarctica

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Why has the sea ice cover surrounding Antarctica been increasing slightly, in sharp contrast to the drastic loss of sea ice occurring in the Arctic Ocean? A new NASA-led study finds the geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are responsible.

A NASA/NOAA/university team led by Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used satellite radar, sea surface temperature, land form and bathymetry (ocean depth) data to study the physical processes and properties affecting Antarctic sea ice.

Older, rougher and thicker Antarctic sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in Oct. 2007, within the sea ice shield surrounding Antarctica. The ice in this region is approximately 33 feet (10 meters) thick. (M.J. Lewis)

Older, rougher and thicker Antarctic sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in Oct. 2007, within the sea ice shield surrounding Antarctica. The ice in this region is approximately 33 feet (10 meters) thick. (M.J. Lewis)

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NASA uses satellite data to solve questions about Earth’s rotational wobbles

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using satellite data on how water moves around Earth, NASA scientists have solved two mysteries about wobbles in the planet’s rotation — one new and one more than a century old. The research may help improve our knowledge of past and future climate.

Although a desktop globe always spins smoothly around the axis running through its north and south poles, a real planet wobbles. Earth’s spin axis drifts slowly around the poles; the farthest away it has wobbled since observations began is 37 feet (12 meters).

Earth does not always spin on an axis running through its poles. Instead, it wobbles irregularly over time, drifting toward North America throughout most of the 20th Century (green arrow). That direction has changed drastically due to changes in water mass on Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Earth does not always spin on an axis running through its poles. Instead, it wobbles irregularly over time, drifting toward North America throughout most of the 20th Century (green arrow). That direction has changed drastically due to changes in water mass on Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Earth Science Division launches new projects to advance our knowledge on how planet Earth works

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is sending scientists around the world in 2016 – from the edge of the Greenland ice sheet to the coral reefs of the South Pacific – to delve into challenging questions about how our planet is changing and what impacts humans are having on it.

While Earth science field experiments are nothing new for NASA, the next six months will be a particularly active period with eight major new campaigns taking researchers around the world on a wide range of science investigations.

Eight major new NASA field research campaigns, from the Greenland ice sheet to Pacific coral reefs, get underway this year to provide scientists with a deeper view of how our home planet works that will complement what they've learned from space. (NASA)

Eight major new NASA field research campaigns, from the Greenland ice sheet to Pacific coral reefs, get underway this year to provide scientists with a deeper view of how our home planet works that will complement what they’ve learned from space. (NASA)

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