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ACT America

Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America
(ACT-America)

https://act-america.larc.nasa.gov/
https://blogs.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions/tag/act-america/

Flying with the gases that impact the climate around you. Making the invisible journey visible.

Track carbon footprints across the sky and through four seasons!
ACT-America is on the hunt for greenhouse gases from our ground and in our air. The project measured both natural and human-based methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) to identify how these gases are created, where they go and what absorbs them. Understanding the carbon cycle is powerful knowledge. It means we can predict future climate impacts, develop smarter mitigation strategies, and create fact-based policy. Imagine the benefit from “seeing” where these invisible gases are coming from and where they go.

“ACT-America measurements fill a critical gap in our understanding of the sources, sinks and transport of climate-altering greenhouse gasses. We now see how weather stirs the atmosphere and mixes these gasses across the continent, like a large spoon mixing the cream in your coffee.” – Ken Davis, Principal Investigator

The ACT-America investigation featured five seasonal aircraft campaigns spread over three years, across the eastern and central regions of the United States. Instruments aboard a NASA C-130 and a NASA B-200 aircraft measured greenhouse gasses and indicators of the origins of these greenhouse gases and tracked how weather systems transport them. The aircraft data are part of a growing network of observations that will track the “footprints” of greenhouse gases to enable: 1) policy makers, citizens and industry to understand how their actions are changing the earth’s climate; 2) knowledge of natural gas leaks and awareness of opportunities to minimize these losses; 3) how the earth’s ecosystems contribute to the carbon cycle; and 4) accurate forecasting of future climate. ACT-America’s data can be found here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c76TfzEJLPo

Related Projects

ACT-America measurements fill a critical gap in our understanding of the sources, sinks and transport of climate-altering greenhouse gasses. We now see how weather stirs the atmosphere and mixes these gasses across the continent, like a large spoon mixing the cream in your coffee.

 
 

CloudSat

CloudSat2 

CloudSat

https://cloudsat.atmos.colostate.edu/home

https://cloudsat.atmos.colostate.edu/data

 

CloudSat is one of NASA’s weather and climate-tracking satellites, and from its name, it’s apparent what it measures – clouds!! Clouds have an enormous influence on Earth’s weather, climate and energy balance, and CloudSat has been helping scientists learn about clouds since it was launched on a Delta II rocket in 2006. From providing a view from space as we watch an approaching hurricane to providing details about how clouds impact radiation from the sun and the climate, CloudSat has been understanding the impact of clouds for nearly 15 years.

The cloud radar on CloudSat is 1000 times more sensitive than most weather radars on the ground. With its long history sending us data about clouds, CloudSat has contributed so much valuable information! CloudSat provides a never-before-seen perspective on clouds; its radar allows us to see inside the large cloud masses that make our weather. This helps us understand processes such as those that convert the tiny cloud particles to precipitation. Key discoveries from CloudSat have included how often the clouds above Earth rain and snow, how much ice and water are in clouds, and how clouds heat or cool the atmosphere. Cloudsat measurements have shown how pollution, volcanic ash, and other aerosols can interact with clouds and affect both precipitation and how efficiently clouds reflect sunlight, which has a huge impact on climate. The cloud and precipitation measurements from CloudSat have been used to track the intensity and patterns of tropical cyclones as they become hurricanes. All of these critical observations will ultimately help us predict the effects of clouds on our climate and improve our predictions of climate change.

NASA launched the CloudSat and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) spacecraft to study the role that clouds and aerosols play in regulating Earth’s weather, climate and air quality.

 

DCOTSS

Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS)

https://dcotss.org/

DCOTSS Outreach

During the summer, strong convective storms over North America overshoot the tropopause into the lower stratosphere. These storms carry water and pollutants from the troposphere into the normally very dry stratosphere, where they can have a significant impact on radiative and chemical processes, potentially including stratospheric ozone. The photo below, taken from the International Space Station, shows one of these storms with an anvil, which is typically near the tropopause level; an overshooting top; and a plume of cirrus (ice) clouds injected into the stratosphere by the overshooting top. Overshooting tops can reach many kilometers above the tropopause into the stratosphere.
During the summer, strong convective storms over North America overshoot the tropopause into the lower stratosphere. These storms carry water and pollutants from the troposphere into the normally very dry stratosphere, where they can have a significant impact on radiative and chemical processes, potentially including stratospheric ozone.
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EPOCH

EPOCH logo

East Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes (EPOCH)

 

Over the past five years, tropical activity in the East
Pacific has increased, while decreasing in the Atlantic Basin. In addition, during El Niño years, warmer than average sea surface 5 temperatures further increase
the likelihood of tropical cyclone formation in the East Pacific. EPOCH plans to fly the AV-6 GH aircraft with the EXRAD radar, the High Altitude MMIC Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR), and the NOAA AVAPS dropsonde system to investigate genesis and rapid intensification (RI) of an East Pacific hurricane by measuring both the environment and interior structures.

EPOCH will develop the EXRAD radar from a Technical Readiness Level 6, with respect to the Global Hawk, to a Technical Readiness Level 8 at the end of the project with a successful flight of the radar, radiometer, and dropsondes over an East Pacific hurricane.

Over the past five years, tropical activity in the East
Pacific has increased, while decreasing in the Atlantic Basin. In addition, during El Niño years, warmer than average sea surface 5 temperatures further increase
the likelihood of tropical cyclone formation in the East Pacific. EPOCH plans to fly the AV-6 GH aircraft with the EXRAD radar, the High Altitude MMIC Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR), and the NOAA AVAPS dropsonde system to investigate genesis and rapid intensification (RI) of an East Pacific hurricane by measuring both the environment and interior structures.

EPOCH will develop the EXRAD radar from a Technical Readiness Level 6, with respect to the Global Hawk, to a Technical Readiness Level 8 at the end of the project with a successful flight of the radar, radiometer, and dropsondes over an East Pacific hurricane.

 
 

GeoCarb

Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCarb)

by ‎@GeoCarb22
https://www.ou.edu/geocarb

Paving the Way for Future Earth Science Missions

GeoCarb’s mission is to study Earth’s carbon cycle: The exchange of carbon among land, ocean, plants and animals, via processes like respiration and photosynthesis from the biosphere and burning fossil fuels. Carbon is the foundation of all life on Earth and understanding its circulation throughout the Earth system is crucial for understanding ecosystem health and services, ocean biodiversity and acidity, crop production, climate change and much more.

“Because the GeoCarb Mission provides persistent daytime measurements from a geostationary orbit of the concentration of the three important carbon gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon dioxide every day under changing conditions at fine spatial scales that it will provide the information needed for breakthrough investigations into the global carbon cycle. In sum, GeoCarb will provide the basis for a transformational improvement in our understanding of the carbon cycle, and it will demonstrate an effective approach to monitoring CO2 and CH4, the two most important greenhouse gasses that is synergistic with greenhouse gas measurements from low Earth orbit by missions such as OCO-2, OCO-3, GOSAT, and GOSAT-2.” – Berrien Moore, GeoCarb Principal Investigator

GeoCarb will focus on two aspects of the carbon cycle. By measuring the daily concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide over North and South America, GeoCarb will track changes in these gases over time, yielding insights into where carbon is being absorbed or released into the atmosphere. The mission will also measure solar-induced fluorescence – a faint red or infrared glow emitted by plants during photosynthesis. Together, these measurements will give scientists a clearer picture of how plants absorb and release carbon as they “breathe” during daily photosynthesis – and how this process is changing over time.

GeoCarb’s instrument is a spectrometer, which measures the wavelengths of incoming light to determine composition of gases and other atmospheric state variables. GeoCarb’s four measured wavelength regions allow it to measure the three greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide), as well as oxygen, which helps the team calculate the mixing ratio (column concentrations) of gases in the atmospheric column. The channel used to obtain oxygen concentrations also procies a measure of solar-induced fluorescence and other atmospheric characteristics. Understanding the role of plant photosynthesis in the carbon cycle will help scientists predict how atmospheric carbon concentrations could affect climate and other Earth systems in the future.

GeoCarb’s mission is to study Earth’s carbon cycle: The exchange of carbon among land, ocean, plants and animals, via processes like respiration and photosynthesis from the biosphere and burning fossil fuels. Carbon is the foundation of all life on Earth and understanding its circulation throughout the Earth system is crucial for understanding ecosystem health and services, ocean biodiversity and acidity, crop production, climate change and much more.

 
 

IMPACTS

IMPACTS

Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS)

New NASA research project employs an impressive array of technology to discern how and why intense bands of snow form in winter storms in order to supply forecasters with data to improve predictions of severe winter snowfall.

IMPACTS is carrying out several major field campaigns that will study how snow bands develop and grow in hazardous East Coast snowstorms, something that has not been the focus of a major research campaign in 30 years! The US East Coast has many large cities and population centers, so the snow from these snowstorms can have a big societal impact on transportation, commerce, and public safety. The data that IMPACTS collects will be used to improve how we forecast snow. Heavy snow falls from long narrow “snow bands” within storms. The unevenness of the snow bands within the storm is what makes predicting snowfall amounts so difficult. Which storms have strong snow bands and which storms do not? Can we measure snowfall from these narrow snow bands from space? Can we predict the location of the most intense snowfall? IMPACTS will help us find out! Better predictions mean communities can be proactive in protecting populations from oncoming hazards and disruptions.

“I have loved watching clouds and the sky for as long as I can remember. I have always loved doing outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, biking and gardening, and understanding the weather, clouds and processes that create the rain and snow help me decide when and where to do those activities. Now as a scientist I not only get to admire the sky and the clouds, but learn about my favorite storms – snowstorms – and learn about them on all scales, down to the processes that make the snow and organize the snow into snowbands.” – Lynn McMurdie

Two NASA aircraft are being used by IMPACTS to go ‘snowstorm chasing’ during three wintertime field campaigns over a three-year period. The NASA ER-2 aircraft flies above the clouds at heights of more than 15 km (9 miles), and carries instruments such as radars, lidars, and microwave sensors that are similar to instruments on satellites now. The second aircraft is the NASA P-3B, and it flies within the snowstorm. The P3B carries instruments that directly sample characteristics of the snowstorm, such as the shapes and sizes of the snow crystals and the environment in which they form. These two aircraft fly coordinated patterns within, above, and around snowstorms as the storms develop, taking data so the scientists can learn exactly how intense snow bands develop within the storms. The data from the remote sensing instruments on the ER-2 aircraft will also help scientists improve our ability to measure snow from satellites.

 

IMPACTS collects data from a “satellite-simulating” ER-2 and in-situ measurements from a cloud penetrating P-3, augmented by ground-based radar and rawinsonde data, multiple NASA and NOAA satellites [including GPM, GOES-16, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)], and computer simulations. The ER-2 and P-3 provide the flight-altitude and long-endurance capabilities and payload capacity needed for the combined remote sensing and in-situ measurements.

 
 

Related Projects

ACT America

CloudSat2

CloudSat

DCOTTS

DCOTSS

EPOCH

GeoCarb

IMPACTS

IMPACTS

Libera

Libera

NAAMESlogo

NAAMES

RaD-X

RaD-X

TROPICS

Fleet Photo

Other Air News

New NASA research project employs an impressive array of technology to discern how and why intense bands of snow form in winter storms in order to supply forecasters with data to improve predictions of severe winter snowfall.

 
 

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Libera

Libera

Libera

 
 
https://lasp.colorado.edu/home/libera/

What causes the Earth to cool or warm?

LLibera is named after the daughter of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. Libera is all about building on and connecting to other studies. Because of this relationship Libera is called a continuity mission, meaning it will continue the multi-decadal record of Earth’s outgoing mission NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES). Libera will continue the mission of her mother, measuring Earth’s outgoing radiative energy.

These measurements of solar radiation that is reflected by Earth’s surface and atmosphere, and terrestrial radiation, that is emitted by the Earth and vented to space. When averaged over the time period and area of the globe and then compared with the incoming solar radiative energy, this provides an important assessment of the state of the climate system. If the outgoing radiation exceed incoming, the Earth cools; if incoming exceeds outgoing, it warms.

The Libera instrument will fly on NOAA’s operational Joint Polar Satellite System-3 (JPSS-3) satellite, which is scheduled to launch by December 2027.

“Libera will provide vital information on the state of Earth’s climate, including how it is changing and what are the causes. It will extend an important climate data record, increasing the value of this record for identifying and quantifying the processes responsible for global change.” Peter Pilewski PI, Libera

Understanding climate change and its causes is perhaps the greatest environmental challenge humankind has faced. Knowledge gained from Libera may be used to guide policy that aids current and future generations on how to mitigate and adapt to global change.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-selects-new-instrument-to-continue-key-climate-record

NASA has selected a new space-based instrument as an innovative and cost-effective approach to maintaining the 40-year data record of the balance between the solar radiation entering Earth’s atmosphere and the amount absorbed, reflected, and emitted. This radiation balance is a key factor in determining our climate: if Earth absorbs more heat than it emits, it warms up; if it emits more than it absorbs, it cools down.

 
 

NAAMES

NAAMES

North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES)

Tracking plankton ecosystems to rescue the balance between our sky and ocean
https://naames.larc.nasa.gov/
http://www.journalistatsea.com/

Predict change, manage Earth’s resources and mitigate impacts,…no this isn’t the new SimCity, this is the story of Plankton and NASA’s NAAMES project

Plankton are a vital food source for ocean life and also a key indicator of climate change. Plankton are very sensitive to the temperature of the ocean, so while plankton can impact the climate, the climate can also impact plankton. So, what makes plankton bloom every year, what determines the size and duration of blooms, how do they impact the atmosphere? How will the warming surface ocean temperatures predicted to happen over the 21st century threaten plankton life? Can we change our future with the most productive ocean ecosystem on Earth?

“Our environment is changing. Our climate is changing. Ocean ecosystems are directly linked to climate. It’s hard to imagine that organisms you can’t see make a difference, but they really do.” – Mike Behrenfeld, NAAMES principal investigator, Oregon State University

The NAAMES investigation aimed to find out how the atmosphere and the ocean are intertwined through that ultimate connector, plankton. Gases and aerosols from plankton are released into the atmosphere and become the seeds of clouds. Because marine clouds are an important part of the Earth’s climate, understanding why and how plankton blooms happen, and how they influence clouds, can help us understand the Earth’s climate.

NAAMES consisted of four joint ship and aircraft field campaigns from 2015-2018 that were each performed at a specific time of the year to target different parts of the annual plankton cycle. Ship-based measurements were taken to learn about how much and what types of plankton were present at different times of the year, how fast they lived and died, and how plankton changed the ocean source of gases and aerosols. Measurements from the overflying aircraft were taken to see how aerosol concentrations varied in the overlying air and how efficiently the aerosols seeded cloud formation. The collected data was studied to help us better understand this beautiful relationship between Plankton and clouds. You can predict climate future and societal impacts with NAAMES. Come take a journey with us!

https://naames.larc.nasa.gov/video/NAAMESoverview.mp4

Related Projects

ACT America

CloudSat2

CloudSat

DCOTTS

DCOTSS

EPOCH

GeoCarb

IMPACTS

IMPACTS

Libera

Libera

NAAMESlogo

NAAMES

RaD-X

RaD-X

TROPICS

Fleet Photo

Other Air News

The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) is a five year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds and their implications for climate.

 
 

RaD-X

RaD-X

 
 

The NASA Radiation Dosimetry Experiment (RaD-X) high-altitude balloon mission was successfully launched from Fort Sumner, New Mexico on 25 September, 2015. Over 20 hours of science data were obtained from four dosimeters at altitudes above 20 km. It provided first-time indications of how cosmic rays deposit energy at the top of atmosphere – which produce showers of additional particles that increase the energy deposited where commercial airlines fly. The data from this experiment will improve NASA’s Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) model, which is currently used by public and private entities for informed decision-making about radiation exposure safety for flight crews, the general public, and commercial space operations.

TROPICS

TROPICS

Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS)

Storm trackers observing inside dangerous tropical cyclones to identify storm intensity and structure

https://tropics.ll.mit.edu/CMS/tropics/Mission-Overview
 
https://disasters.nasa.gov/programs/tropics
 
 
Imagine if you could peer inside a powerful tropical cyclone (TC). NASA’s TROPICS does and it aims to save lives in the process.

Tropical cyclones have been a source of some of the most devastating natural disasters, claiming countless lives, accounting for more than half of U.S. billion-dollar natural disaster damage events (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/summary-stats), and disrupting society. A rise in global temperatures is expected to ramp up storm intensity and rainfall. NASA’s Time Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) is expected to launch in 2022 and will address science objectives that will ultimately improve our ability to accurately predict storm strength, giving people more time to evacuate and avoid loss of life. TROPICS is on a mission to find out how TCs form and intensify by measuring 3D temperature, humidity, cloud ice, and precipitation. This mission is critical because close to 60 million people, nearly 1/5 of Americans, live along the East and Gulf coasts. Recent years have seen major landfalling TCs along Atlantic coasts such as Irma, Maria, Michael, and Dorian that can cause significant death and destruction; damage projections suggest a doubling of US economic losses from TCs every ten years!

“TROPICS will observe deep inside cyclones, so we can forecast storms better, improve disaster preparation and ultimately save lives.” -William Blackwell, Principal Investigator, TROPICS

TROPICS provides high‐resolution, rapid updates on storm intensity, size, and precipitation structure. The science team will analyze observations of temperature, moisture, and precipitation at spatial resolutions ranging from approximately 15 kilometers to several hundred kilometers across the sky. Better storm prediction over all ocean basins is provided by six small satellites called CubeSats. They fly in three separate low-Earth orbital planes. Each CubeSat hosts a high‐performance sensor measuring water vapor absorption and precipitation‐sized ice particles. These instruments allow the team to view inside the core of a TC, with high resolution from different angles. The power of this knowledge about how TCs form, how they are maintained, and what makes some more intense than others, will lead to smarter storm predictions and better storm preparation by local authorities and residents.

Related Projects

MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD); Laser Enhanced Mission Communications Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS); Deep Space Optical Comm (DSOC) Psyche Discovery Mission; Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
NASA Earth Science Technology Office. MicroMAS, CubeSat in 2018.

Tropical cyclones have been a source of some of the most devastating natural disasters, claiming countless lives, accounting for more than half of U.S. billion-dollar natural disaster damage events (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/summary-stats), and disrupting society.  A rise in global temperatures is expected to ramp up storm intensity and rainfall. NASA’s Time Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) is expected to launch in 2022 and will address science objectives that will ultimately improve our ability to accurately predict storm strength, giving people more time to evacuate and avoid loss of life.  TROPICS is on a mission to find out how TCs form and intensify by measuring 3D temperature, humidity, cloud ice, and precipitation. This mission is critical because close to 60 million people, nearly 1/5 of Americans, live along the East and Gulf coasts. Recent years have seen major landfalling TCs along Atlantic coasts such as Irma, Maria, Michael, and Dorian that can cause significant death and destruction; damage projections suggest a doubling of US economic losses from TCs every ten years!

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