Tag Archives: Climate

NASA Space Place – Exploring the Water World

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in April, 2013.

By Diane K. Fisher

2013february2_spaceplaceIn some ways, we know more about Mars, Venus and the Moon than we know about Earth. That’s because 70% of our solar system’s watery blue planet is hidden under its ocean. The ocean contains about 98% of all the water on Earth. In total volume, it makes up more than 99% of the space inhabited by living creatures on the planet.

As dominant a feature as it is, the ocean—at least below a few tens of meters deep—is an alien world most of us seldom contemplate. But perhaps we should.

The ocean stores heat like a “fly wheel” for climate. Its huge capacity as a heat and water reservoir moderates the climate of Earth. Within this Earth system, both the physical and biological processes of the ocean play a key role in the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and climate variability.

This great reservoir continuously exchanges heat, moisture, and carbon with the atmosphere, driving our weather patterns and influencing the slow, subtle changes in our climate.

The study of Earth and its ocean is a big part of NASA’s mission. Before satellites, the information we had about the ocean was pretty much “hit or miss,” with the only data collectors being ships, buoys, and instruments set adrift on the waves.

Now ocean-observing satellites measure surface topography, currents, waves, and winds. They monitor the health of phytoplankton, which live in the surface layer of the ocean and supply half the oxygen in the atmosphere. Satellites monitor the extent of Arctic sea ice so we can compare this important parameter with that of past years. Satellites also measure rainfall, the amount of sunlight reaching the sea, the temperature of the ocean’s surface, and even its salinity!

Using remote sensing data and computer models, scientists can now investigate how the oceans affect the evolution of weather, hurricanes, and climate. In just a few months, one satellite can collect more information about the ocean than all the ships and buoys in the world have collected over the past 100 years!

NASA’s Earth Science Division has launched many missions to planet Earth. These satellites and other studies all help us understand how the atmosphere, the ocean, the land and life—including humans—all interact together.
Find out more about NASA’s ocean studies at http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography. Kids will have fun exploring our planet at The Space Place, http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/earth.

This article was written by Diane K. Fisher and provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Caption: This image from September 2012, shows that the Arctic sea is the smallest recorded since record keeping began in 1979. This image is from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center.

About NASA Space Place

The goal of the NASA Space Place is “to inform, inspire, and involve children in the excitement of science, technology, and space exploration.” More information is available at their website: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/

First Announcement: NASA Climate Day At The MOST – 2 April 2013

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

I’m pleased to announce that The MOST is hosting a NASA-sponsored Climate Day on Tuesday, April 2nd. The combined indoor/outdoor (hopefully outdoor, if the skies hold) event includes demos and lectures on NASA’s Global View of Climate Change, understanding the differences between Weather & Climate, mini-Green House demonstrations, and Ocean Salinity.

Four notable presentations will also be made during the event, including:

Dave Eichorn: “Climate Impact” (6:30 – 7:15)

Anne Saltman, CNY Regional Planning and Development Board: “Regional Climate Impact – Responding To Climate Change in Central New York”

Todd Rodgers, National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project: “NEED & The SCSD Green Team”

Emily Alexander: “Nano And How It Relates To Climate Change – Reducing The Carbon Footprint Through Nanotechnology”

And, while everyone else considers our changing climate indoors, a few CNYO members will be hosting a solar observing session on the Creekwalk just North of The MOST (at the same location that the Syracuse Astronomical Society hosted the Venus Transit session on 6 June 2012). A google map of the proposed location (centered in the map between West Fayette and Walton) is provided below (The MOST is located just below the bottom of the map).


View Larger Map

There will be more information to follow (esp. for CNYO organization) as the event draws near, but we’ll be looking for a head count of available solar scopes (and solar scope operators). The first flyer from the MOST is reproduced below.

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We hope you can join us!

Banner image at top: Snow Cover and Sea Surface Temperatures – With an albedo of up to 80 percent or more, snow-covered terrain reflects most of the earth’s incoming solar radiation back into space, cooling the lower atmosphere. When snow cover melts, the albedo drops suddenly to less than about 30 percent, allowing the ground to absorb more solar radiation, heating the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere. Credit: NASA. Read more at www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/earthandsun/climate_change.html.