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  • Big Trail Lake is one of Alaska’s newest lakes and one of the largest methane emission hotspots in the Arctic. Credit: NASA / Katie Jepson

    Alaska’s Newest Lakes Are Belching Methane

    “This lake wasn’t here 50 years ago.” Katey Walter Anthony, an ecologist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, dips her paddle into the water as her kayak glides across the lake. “Years ago, the ground was about three meters taller and it was a spruce forest,” she says. Big Trail Lake is a thermokarst lake, which means it formed due to permafrost thaw. Permafrost is ground that stays frozen year round; the permafrost in interior Alaska also has massive wedges of actual ice locked within the frozen ground. When that ice melts, the ground surface collapses and forms a sinkhole that can fill with water. Thus, a thermokarst lake is born.

  • IMPACTS Data User Workshop - 26-27 October 2022

    We are currently planning our third IMPACTS Data User Workshop that will be held virtually on 26-27 October 2022 from 12:00-2:30 ET. These open data workshops enable our IMPACTS team to present important information to you (our potential IMPACTS data users) to help with your analysis of the data. For more information and to register, please click in the link below.

  • Scientists and pilots with NASA’s ABoVE campaign got to tour the U.S. Army CRREL’s permafrost tunnel during their August 2022 field campaign in Fairbanks, Alaska. Credit: Sofie Bates / NASA

    Walking Back in Time to Learn About the Future of Permafrost

    There’s a freezer door in the mountainside outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Tom Douglas opens it and we step inside, breathing in cold air and musky dust as we start to walk back through time. This isn’t fantasy. It’s the Permafrost Tunnel run by the U.S. Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Alaska, where Douglas is a Senior Scientist. Recently, Douglas led a group of scientists and pilots with NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) on a tour through the Tunnel to learn about permafrost. Permafrost is any soil, ice, or organic matter like plant material or bone that has stayed frozen year-round for at least two years. The tunnel was initially excavated in the 1960s and has been expanded since 2011. Now, the Permafrost Tunnel has almost 500 meters of excavation. “There’s just nowhere else on Earth that has this type of access to permafrost,” said Douglas.

  • Measuring Methane in the Everglades

    The field campaign—called Blue Carbon Prototype Products for Mangrove Methane and Carbon Dioxide Fluxes (BLUEFLUX)—is designed to measure the methane and carbon dioxide changes at key wetlands around the Caribbean. Field teams took samples from the ground, while NASA’s Carbon Airborne Flux Experiment (CARAFE) aircraft measured methane emissions from the same locations from above. The broader goal of the campaign is to link ground and aerial data with satellite observations using machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms in order to produce a daily methane flux dataset for the Caribbean region.

  • SARP students carry an ozone sonde balloon to launch at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California.

    SARP Ozone Sondes Coincide with SAGE III/ISS Measurements

    A NASA student research program recently took to the stratosphere to make ozone measurements that coincided with events from the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III on the International Space Station (ISS), an instrument developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

  • Student researchers participating in the first year of NASA’s Student Airborne Science Activation (SaSa) program pose in front of the agency’s P-3 aircraft, July 9, 2022, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Participants flew aboard the P-3 to collect Earth science data for their research. SaSa aims to increase diversity in the geosciences by providing students from minority-serving institutions with research experience and professional support. Pictured here are SaSa participants

    Toward Greater Diversity in Earth Sciences: NASA’s Student Airborne Science Activation Program

    Understanding Earth and the complex influences on our planet’s climate are some of the biggest challenges of our times, and we need all the help we can get to tackle them. But, in the last 40 years, the minority representation in geosciences – meaning Earth, atmosphere, and ocean sciences – has remained relatively low despite its increase in proportion of the U.S. population. This summer, in an effort to address that, a new NASA program welcomed its first class of students.

  • NASA flight crew, SARP students and mentors pose in front of the DC-8 on June 21, 2022.

    NASA Flies Students on DC-8 to Study Air Quality

    A group of university students and mentors flew aboard NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s DC-8 aircraft to study air quality as part of NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program (SARP).

  • The P-3 aircraft is fueled on NASA's Wallops Flight Facility main base runway in Virginia.

    NASA Aircraft Conducting Atmospheric Studies Over DC to Baltimore

    A NASA aircraft will fly over the I-95 corridor from Washington to Baltimore and Hampton, Virginia, in support of an atmospheric campaign in the mid-Atlantic region between July 5 and 16, 2022.

  • Students from Victor Scott Primary in Bermuda sit at the hangar door and look across the runway at one of the ACTIVATE aircraft.

    NASA Airborne Science Mission Engages with Students in Bermuda

    A NASA airborne science mission conducting research flights over the Atlantic Ocean held an outreach event June 9 during a three-week deployment to Bermuda.

  • NASA's ER-2 No. 806 returns to flying high-altitude on April 7, 2022, after three years of heavy maintenance. NASA Armstrong operates two ER-2 aircraft to collect information about Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes.

    NASA’s ER-2 No. 806 Returns to Flight

    NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft No. 806 returned to flight after three years of significant modifications and heavy maintenance.

  • Shown is the air-LUSI telescope positioned to measure a simulated Moon in a laboratory for testing and calibration before and after the flight campaign.

    NASA Uses Moonlight to Improve Satellite Accuracy

    NASA’s airborne Lunar Spectral Irradiance, or air-LUSI, flew aboard NASA’s ER-2 aircraft from March 12 to 16 to accurately measure the amount of light reflected off the Moon. Reflected moonlight is a steady source of light that researchers are taking advantage of to improve the accuracy and consistency of measurements among Earth-observing satellites.

  • SARP 2020/2021 students in front of the NASA DC-8 aircraft

    Student Airborne Researchers Fly on NASA’s DC-8

    In December 2021, 53 students from various universities across the United States majoring in sciences, mathematics, and engineering were selected to fly on NASA Armstrong’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory, as part of the NASA Ames’ Student Airborne Research Program (SARP).

     
  • A group of Stony Brook students getting the weather balloons ready for a past storm on January 28, 2022. The instruments are tied to strings attached to the balloons, including a parachute and GPS system that provides the location of the balloon. Around 8 kilometers (5 miles), the communication drops off and contact is lost with the system. Photo Courtesy of Brian Colle.

    Planning, Coordinating and Communicating: The Science Behind Winter Storm Chasing Experiments

    As the snowstorm headed through New York on February 24, one professor at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York spent the hours leading up to it preparing his students to head right into the storm.

  • IMPACTS team

    IMPACTS 2022: NASA Planes Fly into Snowstorms to Study Snowfall

    NASA’s Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Storms (IMPACTS) mission, which began in January and is planned to wrap up at the end of February, has seen upwards of 10 flights so far.

  • Storm Chasing Scientists Fly Into the Clouds to Understand Winter Snowstorms

    Imagine the feeling of flying on an airplane. Smooth sailing, clear skies, not a cloud in sight. It’s a relaxing ride that many take for work or recreational travel. Now imagine flying through clouds, with the turbulence of different intensities. While some sink and hold onto their seats, others view it like a rollercoaster ride with their adrenaline pumping. Christian Nairy and Jennifer Moore know a thing or two about that.

  • IMPACTS 2022: NASA Planes Fly into Snowstorms to Study Snowfall

    Goddard Media Studios reports on IMPACTS - watch their video chronicles of our February 3rd science flight!

  • IMPACTS Media Day 2022

    PI Lynn McMurdie and pilots Rod Turbak and Greg “Coach” Nelson answer questions about IMPACT. Watch the YouTube video here.

  • Up, up and away: Launching Balloons in a Blizzard

    Andrew Janiszeski and Troy Zaremba blow up a weather balloon in a dark hotel lobby. The weather was calm last night when they drove into Plymouth, Massachusetts, but this morning a blizzard is raging outside. Snow is piling up in the hotel parking lot, wind gusts are near 70mph, and the power is out – but they have a job to do.

  • NASA Planes Fly into Snowstorms to Study Snowfall

    Scientists repeatedly check the weather forecasts as they prepare aircraft for flight and perform last-minute checks on science instruments. There’s a large winter storm rolling in, but that’s exactly what these storm-chasing scientists are hoping for.

  • Exploring Earth: Student Airborne Researchers fly on NASA’s DC-8

    After a year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 53 students flew on NASA’s DC-8 as part of NASA’s Student Airborne Research Project (SARP).
    Now in its thirteenth year, SARP offers opportunities to undergraduate students from various universities across the United States who are majoring in sciences, mathematics, and engineering to participate in a NASA research campaign.

  • NASA Invites Media to Learn About S-MODE Mission

    NASA held a media teleconference on Friday, Oct. 29 to share information about the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE), a campaign to study small ocean whirlpools, eddies, and currents. Understanding small-scale ocean dynamics will help scientists better understand how Earth’s oceans help slow climate change.

  • Instruments in the Sea and Sky: NASA’s S-MODE Mission Kicks off 1st Deployment

    Using instruments at sea and in the sky, the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) team aims to understand the role these ocean processes play in vertical transport, the movement of heat, nutrients, oxygen, and carbon from the ocean surface to the deeper ocean layers below. In addition, scientists think these small-scale ocean features play an important role in the exchange of heat and gases between air and sea. Understanding small-scale ocean dynamics will help scientists better understand how Earth’s oceans slow the impact of global warming and impact the Earth climate system.

  • TRACER-AQ research flights are being conducted aboard a Gulfstream V research aircraft flying out of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston

    NASA Study Examines Houston-area Air Quality Issues

    NASA scientists are in Houston this month for an intensive air quality study exploring the effects of emissions and weather on air pollution, as well as the relationship between air quality and socioeconomic factors.

  • Student Airborne Research Program interns Kristen Gregg of Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, Brionna Findley of Spelman College in Atlanta, and Jason Beal of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    Backyard Science: NASA Airborne Science Interns Collect Data from Home

    For more than a decade, dozens of students from across the United States traveled to California to collect air samples aboard NASA research aircraft. Since 2009, about 30 students every year have studied Earth and airborne science as part of the NASA Student Airborne Research Program, or SARP, summer internship. Although COVID-19 restrictions impacted SARP 2020 and lingered in 2021, student interns continued to receive hands-on research experience using Earth and atmospheric science datasets.

  • NASA's DC-8 taking off to St. Croix in support of the Convective Processes Experiment - Aerosols and Winds campaign (CPEX-AW) on Aug 17, 2021. Credits: NASA / Joshua Fisher

    NASA’s DC-8 Deploys to the U.S. Virgin Islands

    NASA’s DC-8 aircraft deploys to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Aug. 17 after more than six months of preparation and instrument upload.

  • NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center ER-2 #809 high-altitude aircraft taking off for Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS) science flights in Palmdale, CA on June 17, 2021. Credits: NASA Photo / Carla Thomas

    NASA Mission Explores Intense Summertime Thunderstorms

    NASA and university scientists will be studying the intense summer thunderstorms over the central United States to understand their effects on Earth’s atmosphere and how it contributes to climate change.

  • A view of the MOOSE study region from the Langley C-20B Gulfstream III. On the far side is the city of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. Detroit is in the foreground, with downtown Detroit on the lower left. The Detroit River runs between the two cities. Credits: NASA/Kenny Christian

    NASA Maps Air Quality in Ozone Hot Spot

    Scientists are flying an airborne campaign out of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia this month to contribute to a joint U.S.-Canadian study on air quality in a region with high surface ozone levels.

  • A photo of the DLR ATRA aircraft leaving contrails while using alternative fuels. It was taken from a DLR Falcon during the 2015 ECLIF-I research flights. Credits: DLR

    NASA-DLR Study Finds Sustainable Aviation Fuel Can Reduce Contrails

    Cleaner-burning jet fuels made from sustainable sources can produce 50%-70% fewer ice crystal contrails at cruising altitude, reducing aviation’s impact on the environment, according to research conducted by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

     

  • NASA’s S-MODE Takes to the Air and Sea to Study Ocean Eddies

    After being delayed over a year due to the pandemic, a NASA field campaign to study the role of small-scale whirlpools and ocean currents in climate change is taking flight and taking to the seas in May 2021.

    Using scientific instruments aboard a self-propelled ocean glider and several airplanes, this first deployment of the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) mission will deploy its suite of water- and air-borne instruments to ensure that they work together to show what’s happening just below the ocean’s surface. The full-fledged field campaign will begin in October 2021, with the aircraft based out of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

    “This campaign in May is largely to compare different ways of measuring ocean surface currents so that we can have confidence in those measurements when we get to the pilot in October,” said Tom Farrar, associate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and principal investigator for S-MODE.

    The S-MODE team hopes to learn more about small-scale movements of ocean water such as eddies. These whirlpools span about 6.2 miles or ten kilometers, slowly moving ocean water in a swirling pattern. Scientists think that these eddies play an important role in moving heat from the surface to the ocean layers below, and vice versa. In addition, the eddies may play a role in the exchange of heat, gases and nutrients between the ocean and Earth’s atmosphere. Understanding these small-scale eddies will help scientists better understand how Earth’s oceans slow down global climate change.

  • S-MODE Conducts Field Campaign in Southern California

    After a 13-month delay to the start of science operations due to COVID-19, the Submesoscale Ocean Dynamics and Vertical Transport Experiment (S-MODE) investigation has officially started collecting data with a short field campaign that began on May 3. This campaign features flights based at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) main campus in Edwards, CA on the AFRC B200, a deployment of instrumented ocean Wave Gliders from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) that look at currents at depth and other environmental conditions, and a Twin Otter International (TOI) aircraft. The B200 is equipped with the JPL Doppler Scatterometry instrument (DopplerScatt) that measures ocean surface velocity and wind, and UCLA’s Multiscale Observing System of the Ocean Surface (MOSES) that measures sea surface temperature (SST). The TOI Twin Otter carries the SIO Modular Aerial Sensing System (MASS), which measures sea surface topography, SST, ocean color, and ocean surface waves.
     
    The week of May 3 marked a number of long-awaited firsts for S-MODE. On Monday, the first flight on the B200 with the combined payload of the JPL DopplerScatt and UCLA MOSES instruments flew lines between Catalina and San Clemente islands — an area of strong ocean currents. The research activities on Friday, centered at  Office of Naval Research experiment site about 350 km offshore of Los Angeles, allowed the science team to conduct joint operations for the first time among the four instruments listed above. This combination of instruments represents some of the key measurements that will be made during future S-MODE campaigns. Demonstrating successful joint operations among these platforms is a key milestone for the S-MODE investigation, and the science team is very pleased with the resulting data so far.
     
    The current experiment will continue until May 18 in preparation for the S-MODE October Pilot campaign, whose flight operations will be based at NASA Ames Research Center.

    S-MODE is supported by the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program Office at NASA Langley Research Center through the Earth Venture Suborbital-3 program and managed by the Earth Science Project Office (ESPO) at NASA Ames Research Center.

    Picture:  Pilots Jim Less (NASA AFRC) and Mike Stewart (NASA ARC) and instrument investigators Jeroen Molemaker (UCLA) and Federica Polverari (JPL) before takeoff of RF4 on May 7, 2021. (Photo J. Piotrowski, AFRC)

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