This DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of many aircraft used to support five new investigations into interconnected Earth systems and their influence on climate change.
NASA will launch five new airborne field campaigns in 2015 that will investigate different aspects of Earth systems and their influence on climate change. The studies were chosen through a competition, with each of the five projects funded for no more than $30 million over five years. The Earth Venture investigations are the second set of such projects, with the first set selected in 2010.
"These new investigations address a variety of key scientific questions critical to advancing our understanding of how Earth works," said Jack Kaye, associate director for research in NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington. “These innovative airborne experiments will let us probe inside processes and locations in unprecedented detail that complements what we can do with our fleet of Earth-observing satellites.”
The five selected Earth Venture investigations are:
- Atmospheric chemistry and air pollution – Steven Wofsy of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., will lead the Atmospheric Tomography project to study the impact of human-produced air pollution on certain greenhouse gases.
- Ecosystem changes in a warming ocean – Michael Behrenfeld of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., will lead the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study, which seeks to improve predictions of how ocean ecosystems would change with ocean warming. The mission will study the annual life cycle of phytoplankton and the impact small airborne particles derived from marine organisms have on climate in the North Atlantic.
- Greenhouse gas sources – Kenneth Davis of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Kan., will lead the Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America project to quantify the sources of regional carbon dioxide, methane and other gases, and document how weather systems transport these gases in the atmosphere.
- African fires and Atlantic clouds – Jens Redemann of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., will lead the Observations of Aerosols above Clouds and their Interactions project to probe how smoke particles from massive biomass burning in Africa influences cloud cover over the Atlantic.
- Melting Greenland glaciers – Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will lead the Oceans Melting Greenland mission to investigate the role of warmer saltier Atlantic subsurface waters in Greenland glacier melting.
Learn more about these Earth Venture investigations and about NASA’s Earth science mission here.