Image from TERRA
Wed, 28 Jul 2021 10:00 EDT

Soil is the foundation of our food systems, and sustainable farming depends upon healthy soil, which has impacts far beyond the field on air, water and climate. Wind and water, hastened by human activity and climate change, erode the richest soil at the surface.

Image from TERRA
Wed, 23 Jun 2021 14:00 EDT

For tiny airborne-particle pollution, known as PM 2.5, researchers using NASA data found that variability from meteorology obscured the lockdown signals when observed from space.

Image from TERRA
Tue, 01 Jun 2021 14:00 EDT

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starts today, June 1. At NASA, we’re developing new technology and missions to study storm formation and impacts, including ways to understand Earth as a system.

Category: News and Events

News and Events

Comparison of overlapping one-year estimates at 6-month intervals of net top-of-the-atmosphere annual energy flux from CERES (solid orange line) and an in situ observational estimate of uptake of energy by Earth climate system (solid turquoise line).
Credits: NASA/Tim Marvel

Researchers have found that Earth’s energy imbalance approximately doubled during the 14-year period from 2005 to 2019.

Earth’s climate is determined by a delicate balance between how much of the Sun’s radiative energy is absorbed in the atmosphere and at the surface and how much thermal infrared radiation Earth emits to space. A positive energy imbalance means the Earth system is gaining energy, causing the planet to heat up. The doubling of the energy imbalance is the topic of a recent study, the results of which were published June 15 in Geophysical Research Letters.

Scientists at NASA and NOAA compared data from two independent measurements. NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) suite of satellite sensors measure how much energy enters and leaves Earth’s system. In addition, data from a global array of ocean floats, called Argo, enable an accurate estimate of the rate at which the world’s oceans are heating up. Since approximately 90 percent of the excess energy from an energy imbalance ends up in the ocean, the overall trends of incoming and outgoing radiation should broadly agree with changes in ocean heat content.

“The two very independent ways of looking at changes in Earth’s energy imbalance are in really, really good agreement, and they’re both showing this very large trend, which gives us a lot of confidence that what we’re seeing is a real phenomenon and not just an instrumental artifact, ” said Norman Loeb, lead author for the study and principal investigator for CERES at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “The trends we found were quite alarming in a sense.”

Increases in emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane due to human activity trap heat in the atmosphere, capturing outgoing radiation that would otherwise escape into space. The warming drives other changes, such as snow and ice melt, and increased water vapor and cloud changes that can further enhance the warming. Earth’s energy imbalance is the net effect of all these factors. In order to determine the primary factors driving the imbalance, the investigators used a method that looked at changes in clouds, water vapor, combined contributions from trace gases and the output of light from the Sun, surface albedo (the amount of light reflected by the Earth’s surface), tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols, and changes in surface and atmospheric temperature distributions.

The study finds that the doubling of the imbalance is partially the result an increase in greenhouse gases due to human activity, also known as anthropogenic forcing, along with increases in water vapor are trapping more outgoing longwave radiation, further contributing to Earth’s energy imbalance. Additionally, the related decrease in clouds and sea ice lead to more absorption of solar energy.

The researchers also found that a flip of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) from a cool phase to a warm phase likely played a major role in the intensification of the energy imbalance. The PDO is a pattern of Pacific climate variability. Its fingerprint includes a massive wedge of water in the eastern Pacific that goes through cool and warm phases. This naturally occurring internal variability in the Earth system can have far-reaching effects on weather and climate. An intensely warm PDO phase that began around 2014 and continued until 2020 caused a widespread reduction in cloud coverage over the ocean and a corresponding increase in the absorption of solar radiation.

“It’s likely a mix of anthropogenic forcing and internal variability,” said Loeb. “And over this period they’re both causing warming, which leads to a fairly large change in Earth’s energy imbalance. The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented.”

Loeb cautions that the study is only a snapshot relative to long-term climate change, and that it’s not possible to predict with any certainty what the coming decades might look like for the balance of Earth’s energy budget. The study does conclude, however, that unless the rate of heat uptake subsides, greater changes in climate than are already occurring should be expected.

“The lengthening and highly complementary records from Argo and CERES have allowed us both to pin down Earth’s energy imbalance with increasing accuracy, and to study its variations and trends with increasing insight, as time goes on.” said Gregory Johnson, co-author on the study and physical oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. “Observing the magnitude and variations of this energy imbalance are vital to understanding Earth’s changing climate.”

Joe Atkinson
NASA’s Langley Research Center
Last Updated: Jun 16, 2021Editor: Joe Atkinson

Link to original article: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/langley/joint-nasa-noaa-study-finds-earths-energy-imbalance-has-doubled/

Valley Fever is caused by the Coccidioides fungus, which grows in dirt and fields. The fungus, when inhaled, can cause fever, rash and coughing. Dust storms in the Southwestern United States carry these spores in the air, where they can be inhaled and cause illness.

Supported by NASA’s Health and Air Quality (HAQ), NASA researcher Daniel Tong, an associate professor at George Mason University, and his team are studying the impact of dust storms in the southwest U.S on the spread of Valley fever. Using a novel, yet simple technique, Tongs team catches dust using cake pans and marbles. The dust is tested for the Coccidioides fungus. Their research “combines this data with NASA satellite data and high-end computer modeling to enhance current forecasting and surveillance activities related to dust storms and the airborne spread of Valley fever across the southwestern states.” 

Mentions of Terra from NASA articles
NASA Applied Science – Dust Storms, Valley Fever… and Cake Pans

“The on-the-ground measurements were combined with Earth observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard the NASA satellites Terra and Aqua. These satellites monitor vegetation and soil moisture, which can reveal where conditions are ripe for the growth of Coccidioides and the spread of arid dust. MODIS instruments also help track dust storms’ spread by detecting the light reflected from the tiny particles as they are swept across the country. The team also used these data to help “train” their models that assessed long-term trends of dust storms in the region.”

“Tong and his team are combining NASA satellite data and high-end computer modeling with homemade dust catchers made of pans for baking cakes and marbles.” 

nasa.gov – Dust Storms and Valley Fever in the American West

“While the team gathers data on the ground, NASA satellites are hard at work getting the view from above. Tong’s team uses data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard the NASA satellites Terra and Aqua. These data show likely habitats for this fungus because they monitor vegetation and soil moisture, revealing where conditions are ripe for fungal growth and spread of arid dust”

But tracking dust storms’ movement through air is easier with the help of NASA’s Earth observing instruments – like MODIS – which can also detect the light reflected from the tiny particles as they’re swept across the country. These true color dust observations from MODIS even helped to “train” models developed by the team to assess how the frequency of dust storms is changing.

“This tool provides information that will help people track droughts or floods, make plans for when to plant crops, and forecast agricultural yields.”

Farmers, researchers, meteorologists, and others now have access to high-resolution NASA data on soil moisture, thanks to a new tool developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), NASA and George Mason University.

The app, Crop Condition and Soil Moisture Analytics (Crop-CASMA), provides access to high-resolution data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument in an easy-to-use format. Soil moisture data are critical for professionals in the agriculture and natural resources sectors who use soil moisture in tandem with other data to plan crop planting, forecast yields, track droughts or floods, and improve weather forecasts.

Read the entire article at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasa-data-powers-new-usda-soil-moisture-portal

An article from Earth Observatory shows MISR’s role in understanding plume height of the explosive eruptions from the Caribbean volcano that have flung ash and sulfate particles to the stratosphere.

“Explosions on April 10 were energetic enough that the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on NASA’s Terra satellite measured part of the plume at altitudes up to 20 kilometers (12 miles).”

Read the entire article: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/148190/tracking-la-soufrieres-plume

What NASA EOSDIS Earth science datasets were released in March 2021? Find new MODIS Terra/Aqua LAI datasets at #LPDAAC. Read more from NASA Earth Data https://go.nasa.gov/3wAhwPO