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Topic: National Center for Atmospheric Research

NASA reports Wintertime Arctic Sea Ice Growth Slows, Long-term Decline

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – New NASA research has found that increases in the rate at which Arctic sea ice grows in the winter may have partially slowed down the decline of the Arctic sea ice cover.

As temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at double the pace of the rest of the planet, the expanse of frozen seawater that blankets the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas has shrunk and thinned over the past three decades. The end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent has almost halved since the early 1980s. A recent NASA study found that since 1958, the Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness and now 70 percent of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice, or ice that forms and melts within a single year.

A lone Arctic sea ice floe, observed during the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project in October 2014. (NASA/Alek Petty)

A lone Arctic sea ice floe, observed during the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project in October 2014. (NASA/Alek Petty)

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NASA Scientists help study the seas around Antarctica

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A team of scientists has launched a series of research flights over the remote seas surrounding Antarctica in an effort to better understand how much carbon dioxide the icy waters are able to lock away.

Called ORCAS, the field campaign will provide a rare look at how oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the air and the Southern Ocean. The campaign is led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Michelle Gierach of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is a principal investigator, along with other scientists from a range of universities and research institutions.

The ORCAS campaign is studying carbon dioxide in the sea around Antarctica. (Flickr user Reeve Jolliffe/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The ORCAS campaign is studying carbon dioxide in the sea around Antarctica. (Flickr user Reeve Jolliffe/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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NASA and U.S. Forest Service maps used to help recovery from California Megafires

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – New maps of two recent California megafires that combine unique data sets from the U.S. Forest Service and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are answering some of the urgent questions that follow a huge wildfire: In all the acres of blackened landscape, where are the live trees to provide seed and regrow the forest? Which dead trees could endanger workers rebuilding roads and trails? What habitats have been created for fire-dependent wildlife species?

The maps, so detailed that they show individual trees, cover the areas of two California megafires — the 2013 Rim fire, which burned more than 250,000 acres (1,000 square kilometers) near and in Yosemite National Park, and 2014’s very intense King fire near Lake Tahoe — before, during and after the active burns.

The 2013 Rim fire in and near Yosemite National Park, California, was the third largest in the state's history, burning more than 250,000 acres. Almost two years later, forest restoration efforts are still ongoing. (USFS/Mike McMillan)

The 2013 Rim fire in and near Yosemite National Park, California, was the third largest in the state’s history, burning more than 250,000 acres. Almost two years later, forest restoration efforts are still ongoing. (USFS/Mike McMillan)

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NASA study shows Tropical Forests may remove more Carbon Dioxide from Atmosphere than expected

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas.

The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion — more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests.

A new NASA study suggests that tropical forests, like this one in Malaysia, absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide than is absorbed by forests in Alaska, Canada and Siberia. (Wikimedia Commons)

A new NASA study suggests that tropical forests, like this one in Malaysia, absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide than is absorbed by forests in Alaska, Canada and Siberia. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA Scientists use Global Hawk aircraft to track atmosphere changes that affect the climate of Earth

 

Written by Rachel Hoover
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – NASA’s uncrewed Global Hawk research aircraft is in the western Pacific region on a mission to track changes in the upper atmosphere and help researchers understand how these changes affect Earth’s climate.

Deployed from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, CA, the Global Hawk landed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam Thursday at approximately 5:00pm EST and will begin science flights Tuesday, January 21st. Its mission, the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX), is a multi-year NASA airborne science campaign.

NASA's Global Hawk 872 on a checkout flight from Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, in preparation for the 2014 ATTREX mission over the western Pacific Ocean. (NASA/Tom Miller)

NASA’s Global Hawk 872 on a checkout flight from Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, in preparation for the 2014 ATTREX mission over the western Pacific Ocean. (NASA/Tom Miller)

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NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment spacecraft data reveals Australia had Biggest Role in Sea Level Drop

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A unique and complex set of circumstances came together over Australia from 2010 to 2011 to cause Earth’s smallest continent to be the biggest contributor to the observed drop in global sea level rise during that time, finds a new study co-authored and co-funded by NASA.

In 2011, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and the University of Colorado at Boulder reported that between early 2010 and summer 2011, global sea level fell sharply, by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimeter.

Changes in Australia's mass as reported by data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites from June 2010 to February 2011. Areas in greens and blues depict the greatest increases in mass, caused by excessive precipitation. The contour lines represent various land surface elevations. (Credit: NCAR/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Changes in Australia’s mass as reported by data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites from June 2010 to February 2011. Areas in greens and blues depict the greatest increases in mass, caused by excessive precipitation. The contour lines represent various land surface elevations. (Credit: NCAR/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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National Research Council report shows more ways the Sun effects Earth’s Climate

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.

There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

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NASA study shows Climate change likely hotter than current Projections

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-funded study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, finds climate model projections that show a greater rise in global temperature are likely to prove more accurate than those showing a lesser rise.

The findings, published today in the journal Science, could provide a breakthrough in the longstanding quest to narrow the range of global warming expected in coming decades and beyond.

Scientists used observations from two NASA satellite instruments, including relative humidity data similar to these, from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft, to analyze how well leading global climate models reproduce observed relative humidity in Earth's tropics and subtropics. The AIRS surface relative humidity data shown here are representative only and are not from the study. Areas shown in reds and yellows are the driest; blue areas the moistest. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists used observations from two NASA satellite instruments, including relative humidity data similar to these, from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua spacecraft, to analyze how well leading global climate models reproduce observed relative humidity in Earth’s tropics and subtropics. The AIRS surface relative humidity data shown here are representative only and are not from the study. Areas shown in reds and yellows are the driest; blue areas the moistest. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA uses data from multiple Observatories to study Coronal Cavities in the Sun’s Atmosphere

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The sun’s atmosphere dances. Giant columns of solar material – made of gas so hot that many of the electrons have been scorched off the atoms, turning it into a form of magnetized matter we call plasma – leap off the sun’s surface, jumping and twisting. Sometimes these prominences of solar material, shoot off, escaping completely into space, other times they fall back down under their own weight.

The prominences are sometimes also the inner structure of a larger formation, appearing from the side almost as the filament inside a large light bulb. The bright structure around and above that light bulb is called a streamer, and the inside “empty” area is called a coronal prominence cavity.

Scientists want to understand what causes giant explosions in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, such as this one. The eruptions are called coronal mass ejections or CMEs and they can travel toward Earth to disrupt human technologies in space. To better understand the forces at work, a team of researchers used NASA data to study a precursor of CMEs called coronal cavities. (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO))

Scientists want to understand what causes giant explosions in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, such as this one. The eruptions are called coronal mass ejections or CMEs and they can travel toward Earth to disrupt human technologies in space. To better understand the forces at work, a team of researchers used NASA data to study a precursor of CMEs called coronal cavities. (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO))

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NASA Study Solves Case of Earth’s ‘Missing Energy’

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two years ago, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO, released a study claiming that inconsistencies between satellite observations of Earth’s heat and measurements of ocean heating amounted to evidence of “missing energy” in the planet’s system.

Where was it going? Or, they wondered, was something wrong with the way researchers tracked energy as it was absorbed from the sun and emitted back into space?

An international team of atmospheric scientists and oceanographers, led by Norman Loeb of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, and including Graeme Stephens of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, set out to investigate the mystery.

Clouds play a vital role in Earth's energy balance, cooling or warming Earth's surface depending on their type. This painting, "Cumulus Congestus," by JPL's Graeme Stephens, principal investigator of NASA's CloudSat mission, depicts cumulus clouds, which transport energy away from Earth's surface. (Image credit: Graeme Stephens)

Clouds play a vital role in Earth's energy balance, cooling or warming Earth's surface depending on their type. This painting, "Cumulus Congestus," by JPL's Graeme Stephens, principal investigator of NASA's CloudSat mission, depicts cumulus clouds, which transport energy away from Earth's surface. (Image credit: Graeme Stephens)

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