Recently, NASA disclosed that its earth risk rating program will fund five major missions in 2020, using advanced aviation technology to explore the mysteries of Earth changes affecting human life and environment, from snowstorms on the east coast of the United States to ocean whirlpools on the west coast.
Sketch map of five major missions. Image source: NASA
Cloud sampling assisted snowstorm prediction
The frequent winter snowstorms on the east coast of the United States often lead to road closures and business shutdowns, and pose a serious threat to human security. However, it is difficult to measure the cloud formation process of snowstorm accurately from space, resulting in the poor accuracy of snow prediction.
For this reason, NASA will start the project of microphysics and precipitation research threatening the Atlantic coast snowstorm in January next year, use the ER-2 high altitude aircraft and P-3 cloud sampling aircraft to enter the relevant areas for flight, accurately study the distribution of snow in the cloud, make up for the lack of satellite data, and improve the weather forecast model.
Lynn mcmurdy, the projects lead researcher and associate professor at the University of Washington, said that when people see large pictures of clouds, they think its snowing everywhere, but thats not the case. There is a long and narrow strong snowfall zone inside the cloud. We try to understand why they formed and how they evolved with the development of storms in order to better predict the distribution of snow on the ground.
Air survey decoding ocean vortex
In the climate and marine ecology, the circular flow, known as vortex, promotes the heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere and the vertical transport of dissolved gases such as nutrients and oxygen in the upper ocean. The diameter of large-scale eddies is hundreds of kilometers, while the size of sub mesoscale eddies varies from 1km to 10km, which cannot be observed in detail by current ocean monitoring satellites.
NASA will start the sub mesoscale ocean dynamics experiment in April next year, sending king of the air, Gulfstream 5 and other aircraft and ocean research ships, carrying a series of independent platforms and researchers to measure the ocean temperature, salinity and current velocity at different time and space scales 200 miles away from the San Francisco coast.
It is reported that these vortices have an important long-term impact on the upper ocean, but their prediction is very sensitive to small details in the simulation process. Thomas farar, a marine physicist at the Woods Hole Institute of Oceanography, said the project could help us further improve our prediction model.
Remote sensing assessment of sea level rise threat
In the United States, millions of people depend on the coastal delta to live. It serves as a nursery for fish, crustaceans and other animals and protects inland infrastructure from hurricanes and tsunamis. However, most of the worlds deltas are likely to disappear in rising sea levels.
NASA will carry out the delta-x mission to study the Mississippi River Delta in detail to find out which areas may disappear and which areas can survive. In fact, if there is enough sediment, if plants can take root healthily, the increase of delta may follow the speed of Shanghais level rise. NASA scientists will use airplanes such as king of the sky and Gulfstream to carry out field measurements of the current with advanced remote sensing instruments to determine where the sediment will be deposited. Scientists will also quantify the amount of organic soil produced by plant decomposition.
These new data will help us understand and mitigate the impact of sea-level rise on important coastal resources in the Delta, said mark simmard, lead researcher at delta-x at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Field study of marine boundary layer clouds
Ocean boundary layer clouds cover a large area of the earths oceans and play a key role in the study of the earths energy balance and water cycle. For example, in the global warming model, cloud change is still one of the biggest uncertainties.
NASA will start the research of the experiment of aerosol cloud meteorology interaction in the western Atlantic Ocean in February next year, and send two aircrafts with a large number of remote sensing and measuring instruments to cooperate with each other to carry out the flight mission, one of which is named Falcon and the other is the king of the air. The flight area is mainly in the west of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Although many field investigations have been carried out before, we have not yet made a comprehensive measurement under various conditions to reach a clear conclusion about the climate impact of the interaction among aerosols, clouds and meteorology. Through this research, we intend to solve this problem and provide the international scientific community with data that can be used in the next few years and decades, said Amin soloshian, the main researcher of the project.
High altitude exploration of the impact of atmospheric storms
In summer, there are often strong storms in the middle of the United States. When the storms get high enough, they will surpass the troposphere and inject water vapor and pollutants into the stratosphere, which will significantly change their chemical composition and may even have a negative impact on stratospheric ozone.
In the summer of 2020, NASA will carry out the dynamics and chemistry of the stratosphere in summer project, using meteorological satellites and ground radars to measure over shooting storms, and using the ER-2 high-altitude aircraft to collect measurement data. It is reported that the aircraft can fly to 70000 feet (more than 20000 meters), far higher than most of the aircrafts flight altitude. The project is the first scientific mission dedicated to the observation of materials lifted to the stratosphere by strong storms. Ken Bowman, a lead researcher at Texas A & M University, said that by using the ER-2 aircraft to measure storm outflows directly, we can study how these storms affect todays stratosphere and how this effect changes with the atmosphere over the next few decades. Source: responsible editor of science and Technology Daily: Qiao JunJing, nbj11279
In the summer of 2020, NASA will carry out the dynamics and chemistry of the stratosphere in summer project, using meteorological satellites and ground radars to measure over shooting storms, and using the ER-2 high-altitude aircraft to collect measurement data. It is reported that the aircraft can fly to 70000 feet (more than 20000 meters), far higher than most of the aircrafts flight altitude.
The project is the first scientific mission dedicated to the observation of materials lifted to the stratosphere by strong storms. Ken Bowman, a lead researcher at Texas A & M University, said that by using the ER-2 aircraft to measure storm outflows directly, we can study how these storms affect todays stratosphere and how this effect changes with the atmosphere over the next few decades.