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NASA reports Snow Cover on Sea Ice in the Arctic has thinned significantly in last 50 years

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New research led by NASA and the University of Washington, Seattle, confirms that springtime snow on sea ice in the Arctic has thinned significantly in the last 50 years, by about a third in the Western Hemisphere and by half near Alaska.

The new study, published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research, tracks changes in snow depth over decades. It combines data from NASA’s Bromide, Ozone, and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) field campaign, NASA’s Operation IceBridge flights, and instrumented buoys and ice floes staffed by Soviet scientists from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Matthew Sturm of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a co-author of this study, takes a snow measurement on sea ice in the Beaufort Sea in March 2012 during the BROMEX field campaign. (U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory)

Matthew Sturm of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a co-author of this study, takes a snow measurement on sea ice in the Beaufort Sea in March 2012 during the BROMEX field campaign. (U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite to help Farmers manage Drought conditions

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – About 60 percent of California is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the U.S. Drought Monitor’s most dire classification. The agency issued the same warning to Texas and the southeastern United States in 2012. California’s last two winters have been among the driest since records began in 1879. Without enough water in the soil, seeds can’t sprout roots, leaves can’t perform photosynthesis, and agriculture can’t be sustained.

Currently, there is no ground- or satellite-based global network monitoring soil moisture at a local level. Farmers, scientists and resource managers can place sensors in the ground, but these only provide spot measurements and are rare across some critical agricultural areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For several months, California has been in a state of "exceptional drought." The state's usually verdant Central Valley produces one-sixth of the U.S.'s crops. (White House via Wikimedia Commons)

For several months, California has been in a state of “exceptional drought.” The state’s usually verdant Central Valley produces one-sixth of the U.S.’s crops. (White House via Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 achieves final orbit and begins sending data

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Just over a month after launch, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) — NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide — has maneuvered into its final operating orbit and produced its first science data, confirming the health of its science instrument.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, one of five new NASA Earth science missions set to launch in 2014, and one of three managed by JPL. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, one of five new NASA Earth science missions set to launch in 2014, and one of three managed by JPL. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s AcrimSat spacecraft has quit responding after 14 years of service

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After 14 years of monitoring Earth’s main energy source, radiation from the sun, NASA’s Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor satellite has lost contact with its ground operations team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and its mission has been declared completed.

AcrimSat’s ACRIM 3 instrument was the third in a series of satellite experiments that have contributed to a critical data set for understanding Earth’s climate: the 36-year, continuous satellite record of variations in total solar radiation reaching Earth, or total solar irradiance.

Artist's rendering of the AcrimSat spacecraft. (NASA)

Artist’s rendering of the AcrimSat spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will soon provide Scientists data to look into the past

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which launched on July 2nd, will soon be providing about 100,000 high-quality measurements each day of carbon dioxide concentrations from around the globe. Atmospheric scientists are excited about that.

But to understand the processes that control the amount of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, they need to know more than just where carbon dioxide is now. They need to know where it has been. It takes more than great data to figure that out.

Scientists will use measurements from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 to track atmospheric carbon dioxide to sources such as these wildfires in Siberia, whose smoke plumes quickly carry the greenhouse gas worldwide. The fires were imaged on May 18 by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer instrument on the Terra satellite. (NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response)

Scientists will use measurements from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 to track atmospheric carbon dioxide to sources such as these wildfires in Siberia, whose smoke plumes quickly carry the greenhouse gas worldwide. The fires were imaged on May 18 by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer instrument on the Terra satellite. (NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response)

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NASA’s Aura satellite celebrates it’s 10th Year analyzing Earth’s Climate System

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Nitrogen and oxygen make up nearly 99 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. The remaining one percent is comprised of gases that — although present in small concentrations — can have a big impact on life on Earth.

Trace gases called greenhouse gases warm the surface, making it habitable for humans, plants and animals. But these greenhouse gases, as well as clouds and tiny particles called aerosols in the atmosphere, also play vital roles in Earth’s complex climate system.

NASA's 10-year-old Aura satellite, which studies Earth's atmosphere, continues to help scientists understand Earth's changing climate. (NASA)

NASA’s 10-year-old Aura satellite, which studies Earth’s atmosphere, continues to help scientists understand Earth’s changing climate. (NASA)

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NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites data reveals River Areas Flood Potential

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Every year, river flooding takes a heavy toll of lives and property damage in the United States. A new study has found that the potential of a river basin to flood can be assessed months in advance of flood season by using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites. The new finding could eventually lead to longer lead times for flood warnings.

“Case studies of the catastrophic Missouri River floods of 2011 show that flood-potential early warning times could be increased by a couple of seasons using these satellite data,” said co-author Jay Famiglietti.

The flooded confluence of the Nishnabotna and Missouri Rivers in Iowa, June 2011. A study of the 2011 Missouri River Basin floods has shown that NASA satellite data can help predict the potential of a river basin to flood as much as 11 months in advance of flood season. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The flooded confluence of the Nishnabotna and Missouri Rivers in Iowa, June 2011. A study of the 2011 Missouri River Basin floods has shown that NASA satellite data can help predict the potential of a river basin to flood as much as 11 months in advance of flood season. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

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NASA successfully launches Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT) Wednesday.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket’s second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit.

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NASA set to launch Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 this morning July 1st, 2014

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California tomorrow, July 1st, at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT).

OCO-2 — the first dedicated NASA mission to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide on global scales — has only a 30-second launch window each day. The launch window is short because the spacecraft needs to be precisely aligned within a series of Earth-observing satellites known as the “A-Train.”

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 gets ready for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. The spacecraft is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, which will boost it to an orbit around Earth. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 gets ready for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. The spacecraft is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, which will boost it to an orbit around Earth. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s QuikScat satellite to be used to calibrate it’s successor RapidScat

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – June 19th marked the 15th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s QuikScat, a satellite sent for a three-year mission in 1999 that continues collecting data. Built in less than 12 months, QuikScat has watched ocean wind patterns for 15 years and improved weather forecasting worldwide. Despite a partial instrument failure in 2009, it provides calibration data to international partners.

On this anniversary, the mission’s team is calibrating ISS-RapidScat, the successor that will maintain QuikScat’s unbroken data record. After its launch in a few months, RapidScat will watch ocean winds from the International Space Station (ISS) for a two-year mission.

Using data from NASA's QuikScat, weather forecasters were able to predict hazardous weather events over oceans 6 to 12 hours earlier than before these data were available. Orange areas show where winds are blowing the hardest and blue shows relatively light winds. (NASA)

Using data from NASA’s QuikScat, weather forecasters were able to predict hazardous weather events over oceans 6 to 12 hours earlier than before these data were available. Orange areas show where winds are blowing the hardest and blue shows relatively light winds. (NASA)

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