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Environmental Monitoring

2015:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL

April 2015 Issue

PACE Mission to Study Earth’s Climate System
NASA is beginning work on a new satellite mission that will extend critical climate measurements of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere and advance studies of the impact of environmental changes on ocean health, fisheries and the carbon cycle. Tentatively scheduled to launch in 2022, the Pre-Aerosol Clouds and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission will study Earth’s aquatic ecology and chemistry, and address the uncertainty in our understanding of how clouds and aerosols affect Earth’s climate. PACE will be managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Goddard will build PACE’s ocean color instrument to see the colors of the ocean, from the ultraviolet to near infrared, and obtain more accurate measurements of biological and chemical ocean properties, such as phytoplankton biomass and the composition of phytoplankton communities. These changes in the ocean’s color help identify harmful algal blooms.

Phytoplankton vary in their size, function, and response to environmental and ecosystem changes or stresses, such as ocean acidification. About one-fourth of human-made carbon dioxide ends up in the ocean and reacts with seawater, altering its acidity.

In addition to gathering data on ocean color, PACE will measure clouds and tiny airborne particles like dust, smoke and aerosols in the atmosphere to supplement measurements from existing NASA satellite missions. Aerosols affect how energy moves in and out of Earth’s atmosphere directly by scattering sunlight, and indirectly by changing the composition of clouds. Aerosols also can affect the formation of precipitation in clouds and change rainfall patterns.

NASA is currently planning a second PACE instrument, a polarimeter, to better measure aerosol and cloud properties to improve understanding of the role of aerosols in the climate system.

Second VIIRS for Weather Monitoring
Raytheon Co. (Waltham, Massachusetts) delivered a second Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument to support the NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) mission. The second VIIRS unit will fly aboard the JPSS-1 spacecraft, ensuring continuity of critical weather information currently being provided by its predecessor, the joint NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite launched in 2011.

Comprehensive testing at Raytheon’s Space Systems facility in El Segundo, California, preceded its on-schedule delivery for spacecraft integration. Testing confirmed that the VIIRS sensor will withstand launch conditions and operate as expected. Integration will begin immediately to support the scheduled launch of JPSS-1 in early 2017.

VIIRS is widely known for producing unprecedented, detailed images of Earth, including NASA’s 2012 Blue Marble visual image, and for breaking new ground in the observation of evolving storm patterns at night. It also improves forecasters’ ability to predict severe weather with greater precision and is important for forecasting in Arctic areas, which do not receive geostationary coverage.

VIIRS data are used for a wide range of applications, such as monitoring harmful algal blooms, sea surface temperature and vegetation stress as a predictor of drought.

JACKBOX Tested To Whitewater Extremes
Hesco’s (Leeds, England) newest addition to its environmental portfolio, Jackbox, was tested at Tees Barrage International White Water Centre in the U.K.—a 300-meter, international whitewater rafting course originally built to train 2012 Olympians and reconfigured with eddies and slaloms, suitable for gauging the limits of Jackbox’s capability.

The venue allows control of the force of flash flooding, which enabled Hesco to build dams and obstacles to test the product against extremes.

Jackbox is a lightweight and durable temporary flood barrier that recently passed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers laboratory testing in Mississippi. Each unit is self-supporting and can be carried by only two people. It is engineered to be separated as individual cells, allowing the fill material to be recovered with ease without any loss of fill material. Jackbox can create an 80-foot barrier that can be cleared away by one person in less than 35 minutes.

France Loans €50 Million to Philippines for Climate Adaptation
French President François Hollande, the chair of the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP21), to be held in Paris, France, in December, visited the Philippines, where, with Phillipine President Benigno Aquino III, he led a joint statement urging the international community to reach a universally ambitious deal on climate change.

Hollande offered Aquino €50 million for projects to prevent further disasters linked to climate change.

“President Hollande aims to show to the rest of the world that climate change is real and happening in vulnerable countries like the Philippines that have a small carbon footprint but are facing the brunt of the climate crisis,” said Anna Abad of Greenpeace.

2015:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL

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