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Topic: Carbon

APSU SGI, TVA partner to save Southern Grasslands

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – In the South, old-timers tell children, “Long ago, squirrels could run in trees from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River without touching the ground.” Austin Peay State University (APSU) professor of Biology Dr. Dwayne Estes hears that often and knows it’s not always polite to fight over Southern folklore.

Austin Peay Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Dwayne Estes, leads a tour through Baker Prairie Natural Area.

Austin Peay Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Dwayne Estes, leads a tour through Baker Prairie Natural Area.

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NASA Satellite Data reveals Climate Change effect on Fires

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Hot and dry. NASA says these are the watchwords for large fires. While every fire needs a spark to ignite and fuel to burn, it’s the hot and dry conditions in the atmosphere that determine the likelihood of a fire starting, its intensity and the speed at which it spreads. Over the past several decades, as the world has increasingly warmed, so has its potential to burn.

Since 1880, the world has warmed by 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit, with the five warmest years on record occurring in the last five years. Since the 1980s, the wildfire season has lengthened across a quarter of the world’s vegetated surface, and in some places like California, fire has become nearly a year-round risk.

Fires are a natural part of the ecosystem in North American forests. However, their size and intensity is shaped by climate. (NASA)

Fires are a natural part of the ecosystem in North American forests. However, their size and intensity is shaped by climate. (NASA)

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NASA study reveals Boreal Forest Fires Could Release Deep Soil Carbon

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – According to results from the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) funded by NASA’s Earth Science Division, increasingly frequent and severe forest fires could burn generations-old carbon stored in the soils of boreal forests.

Releasing this previously buried carbon into the atmosphere could change these forests’ balance of carbon gain and loss, potentially accelerating warming.

Canada’s Northwest Territories were scorched by record-breaking wildfires in 2014.

The 2014 fires in Canada’s Northwest Territories burned more than 7 million acres of boreal forest, mainly comprised of cone-bearing trees like these jack pines. The fires released nearly 104 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. (NASA / Xanthe Walker, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University)

The 2014 fires in Canada’s Northwest Territories burned more than 7 million acres of boreal forest, mainly comprised of cone-bearing trees like these jack pines. The fires released nearly 104 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. (NASA / Xanthe Walker, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 will study Earth’s Carbon Cycle from International Space Station

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says that when the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, OCO-3, heads to the International Space Station, it will bring a new view – literally – to studies of Earth’s carbon cycle.

OCO-3 will observe near-global measurements of carbon dioxide on land and sea, from just after sunrise to just before sunset from its perch on the space station. That makes it far more versatile and powerful than its predecessor, OCO-2.

“OCO-2 revisits areas on Earth at roughly the same time of day due to its sun-synchronous orbit,” said Matt Bennett, OCO-3’s project systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “OCO-3 will expand the time period of that coverage and observe the presence of carbon dioxide at varying times of day.”

OCO-3 sits on the large vibration table (known as the "shaker") in the Environmental Test Lab at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

OCO-3 sits on the large vibration table (known as the “shaker”) in the Environmental Test Lab at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) will study plant growth

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says when plants take in too much energy, they don’t get fat – they lighten up. They absorb more sunlight than they need to power photosynthesis, and they get rid of the excess solar energy by emitting it as a very faint glow.

The light is far too dim for us to notice under normal circumstances, but it can be measured with a spectrometer. Called solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), it’s the most accurate signal of photosynthesis that can be observed from space.

That’s important because, as Earth’s climate changes, growing seasons worldwide are also changing in both timing and length.

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

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NASA reports new study reveals Arctic Carbon Cycle accelerating

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When people think of the Arctic, snow, ice and polar bears come to mind. Trees? Not so much. At least not yet.

A new NASA-led study using data from the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) shows that carbon in Alaska’s North Slope tundra ecosystems spends about 13 percent less time locked in frozen soil than it did 40 years ago. In other words, the carbon cycle there is speeding up — and is now at a pace more characteristic of a North American boreal forest than of the icy Arctic.

A 2017 image of Qikiqtaruk-Herschel Island Territorial Park in the Yukon shows more vegetation, shrubs and water compared with the 1987 image of the same area. (Isla Myers-Smith/University of Edinburgh)

A 2017 image of Qikiqtaruk-Herschel Island Territorial Park in the Yukon shows more vegetation, shrubs and water compared with the 1987 image of the same area. (Isla Myers-Smith/University of Edinburgh)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe receives revolutionary Heat Shield

 

Written by Justyna Surowiec
NASA’s Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationLaurel, MD – The launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, the mission that will get closer to the Sun than any human-made object has ever gone, is quickly approaching, and on June 27th, 2018, Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield — called the Thermal Protection System, or TPS — was installed on the spacecraft.

A mission 60 years in the making, Parker Solar Probe will make a historic journey to the Sun’s corona, a region of the solar atmosphere. With the help of its revolutionary heat shield, now permanently attached to the spacecraft in preparation for its August 2018 launch, the spacecraft’s orbit will carry it to within 4 million miles of the Sun’s fiercely hot surface, where it will collect unprecedented data about the inner workings of the corona.

The Thermal Protection System connects to the custom-welded truss on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft at six points to minimize heat conduction. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

The Thermal Protection System connects to the custom-welded truss on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft at six points to minimize heat conduction. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover discovers Ancient Organic Molecules on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

The new findings — “tough” organic molecules in 3-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere — appear in the June 8th edition of the journal Science.

NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered ancient organic molecules on Mars, embedded within sedimentary rocks that are billions of years old. (NASA/GSFC)

NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered ancient organic molecules on Mars, embedded within sedimentary rocks that are billions of years old. (NASA/GSFC)

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NASA’s ExoMars Rover will use Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer to search for Life on Mars

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An international team of scientists has created a tiny chemistry lab for a rover that will drill beneath the Martian surface looking for signs of past or present life.

The toaster oven-sized lab, called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer or MOMA, is a key instrument on the ExoMars Rover, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, with a significant contribution to MOMA from NASA. It will be launched toward the Red Planet in July 2020.

Precision assembly and mechanical technician Ryan Wilkinson inspects MOMA during thermal vacuum testing at Goddard. (NASA)

Precision assembly and mechanical technician Ryan Wilkinson inspects MOMA during thermal vacuum testing at Goddard. (NASA)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to search Solar System for Water

 

Written by Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD –  Water is crucial for life, but how do you make water? Cooking up some H2O takes more than mixing hydrogen and oxygen. It requires the special conditions found deep within frigid molecular clouds, where dust shields against destructive ultraviolet light and aids chemical reactions. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will peer into these cosmic reservoirs to gain new insights into the origin and evolution of water and other key building blocks for habitable planets.

A molecular cloud is an interstellar cloud of dust, gas, and a variety of molecules ranging from molecular hydrogen (H2) to complex, carbon-containing organics. Molecular clouds hold most of the water in the universe, and serve as nurseries for newborn stars and their planets.

Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. (European Southern Observatory (ESO))

Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. (European Southern Observatory (ESO))

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