NASA has highlighted its 2016 achievements in an epic YouTube mixtape, putting the spotlight on its monitoring of ice sheets and carbon dioxide levels.
The video by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center – a major space research laboratory – shows off some of the organisation’s most exciting observations and historic discoveries against the backdrop of catchy beats.
Climate change features prominently with a mention for Operation IceBridge, which measured Antarctic ice for the eight consecutive year.
Using a fleet of research aircraft, NASA images Earth’s polar ice to better understand connections between polar regions and the global climate system.
NASA also mentions its supercomputers that crunched satellite data to provide a brand new three-dimensional view of how carbon dioxide moves through Earth’s atmosphere.
The resulting animation shows how most of the carbon dioxide accumulates in the northern hemisphere where it originates in Europe, North America and Asia before it moves towards the Arctic. Emissions from wildfires in South America and Africa are also visualised.
The Goddard Center
The Goddard Space Flight Center is home to America’s largest group of scientists, engineers and technologists who build spacecraft, instruments and new technologies to study the planet, sun, solar system and the universe.
As part of the centre, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies has been tasked with the prediction of climate change in the 21st century one of its key objectives. The institute’s research combines geological records and the analysis of satellite data with computer models of atmospheric, land surface and oceanic processes.
The Future of Earth Observation
Should NASA’s earth observation activities really be scaled back significantly, as promised by the incoming US president, Europe may have to step up and increase its own efforts in that field to maintain a steady supply of climate data.
Europe’s Copernicus programme is already working on this. Copernicus consists of a set of systems that collect data from multiple sources. The programme is expanding its network of Earth observation satellite, and also maintains sensors at ground stations as well as airborne sensors and sensors at sea.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the programme is teaming up with Climate-KIC, the EU’s climate innovation initiative, to accelerate the use of satellite data in creating climate change solutions.