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The Earth Arkive Q-Alpha 2016

January:  February:  March

Back to The Earth












To Read the Stories Published in The Earth Section in September-December 2015

The Apollo 17 crew caught this breathtaking view of our home planet as they were travelling to the Moon on Dec. 7, 1972. It's the first time astronauts were able to photograph the South polar ice cap. Nearly the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible, along with the Arabian Peninsula.

( Last Updated: Dec. 7, 2015: Editor: NASA Administrator)

Image Credit: NASA


Posted: December 9, 2015










Etosha, Namibia

Etosha: Released 25/03/2016 10:05 am: Copyright Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2015], processed by ESA

March 26, 2016: The Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over northern Namibia in this image from 18 September 2015.

The most prominent feature is the Etosha salt pan. It is believed that a lake was first formed tens of millions of years ago. More recently – mere thousands of years ago – the Kunene River would have flowed through this area, filling the large lake before tectonic movement changed the river course. The lake then dried up, leaving behind some 4800 sq km of exposed minerals.

Today only the Ekuma River, seen flowing down from the upper left, feeds water into the pan – but very little water actually flows in as it seeps into the riverbed.

Part of the wider Etosha National Park, the pan is a designated Ramsar wetland of international importance. It is the only known mass breeding ground for flamingos in Namibia, seeing as many as one million flamingos at a time during the wet season when rain water forms pools in parts of the pan.

Built-up mounds of clay and salt throughout the pan also draw animals who use them as salt licks. Animals including lions, elephants, leopards and even black rhinoceroses can be seen in the park.

The name ‘Etosha’ means ‘great white place’ in the language of the local Ovambo tribe – and looking at the image we understand why.

The straight lines cutting across the image are roads, and the one on the right side clearly delineates the border of the protected park to the south. On the northern side of the road, we can see agricultural structures.


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World Meteorological Day: Face the Future: Hotter, Drier and Wetter

March 23, 2016: In a message on World Meteorological Day Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that today the Earth is already one degree Celsius hotter than at the start of the twentieth century, indicative of this year's theme of the Day: 'Hotter, drier, wetter: face the future.'

“Climate change is affecting our natural and human environment. Our emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, and the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the ocean is increasing, he said, adding: “The international community has unanimously recognized the need for bold action.”

Citing the Paris Agreement to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees,” he stressed that WMO and the national meteorological and hydrological services are playing an essential role in building climate-resilient societies.

Health risks related to heat can be reduced through multi-hazard early warning systems that provide timely alerts to decision-makers, health services and the general public, he said, also underscoring the need to improve access to scientific knowledge and share best practices for coping with drought.

The WMO community will continue to support countries in pursuing sustainable development and tackling climate change by providing the best possible science and operational services for weather, climate, hydrology, oceans and the environment.

According to the WMO Statement on the Status of the Climate in 2015, the year made history, with shattered temperature records, intense heatwaves, exceptional rainfall, devastating drought and unusual tropical cyclone activity.

“Our planet is sending a powerful message to world leaders to sign and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and cut greenhouse gases now before we pass the point of no return,” Mr. Taalas said earlier this week in a press release, emphasizing that the worst-case scenarios can be averted by taking urgent and far-reaching measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

WMO Message


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The Earth-Hour 2016 at The Humanion

March 20, 2016: We, at The Humanion, ended up lengthening the Earth-Hour into a double-hour-candle-lit vigil for the Mother Earth because when we were ready we realised it was 19:30 so we started the Earth-Hour one hour early.

Here's some light. Please, carry the Earth with you all the time. Sustainable living....... comes from.......sustainable thinking. Dots joined together form light years as drops of water together craft vast oceans. Our tiny efforts, together do and will make a difference.

For we should, for we ought, for we must change the way we think, the way we live, the way we interact, the way we create, the way we do business and run and manage things: we must learn to change and seek to do our utmost so to be able to leave the Earth for our future generations, as the way we have found her, if not better.


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The Earth Presented

Image: NASA

March 19, 2016: Vince Ambrosia of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, gives a presentation about “NASA and Wildfires: Science and Technology Supporting the Nation” at the NASA booth at the fall 2015 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

( Editor: Jessica Culler:NASA)


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Our Earth: Hour-Earth: 20:30-21:30 GMT

Ban Ki-moon on Earth Hour 2016

Image: NASA

This year's Earth Hour comes at a pivotal moment. Last December, all the world's Governments came together to adopt the Paris Agreement on climate change. This is a historic achievement for people and the planet – but only if we follow through on the promises made.

March 19, 2016: The United Nations will go dark later this evening as the Organization shuts off the lights at its iconic Headquarters complex in New York and other facilities around the world in observance of 'Earth Hour,' an annual global event to put the spotlight on the issues facing the planet and to inspire millions across the world to live more sustainably.

In a video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said: “This year's Earth Hour comes at a pivotal moment. Last December, all the world's Governments came together to adopt the Paris Agreement on climate change. This is a historic achievement for people and the planet – but only if we follow through on the promises made.”

UK: Join Parliament and Switch Off for #EarthHourUK

March 19, 2016: Members of the public are encouraged to join Parliament in switching off all unnecessary lighting on Saturday 19 March at 8.30pm as part of the WWF's initiative Earth Hour.

The Houses of Parliament, along with landmarks around the world, will be plunged into darkness for one hour, turning out all non-essential and external lights in order to raise awareness about climate change. Spectators will be able to watch from Westminster Bridge as the Palace lights are extinguished, and then switched back on again an hour later.
Environmental Impact

Parliament has reduced its environmental impact over the past years, decreasing its carbon footprint by 22% since 2008. Electricity use has gone down by 15%, gas by 23% and water consumption by 40%. Parliament also recycles 62% of its general waste. These changes have been achieved by making modifications to buildings and systems, as well as raising awareness.

Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons said: "Parliament has made real progress in improving its sustainability over the past years, and Earth Hour has become a proud annual tradition in the Parliamentary calendar. By turning out the lights for an hour, we are helping to promote the idea of sustainability encourage awareness of the responsibilities of our interconnected global community."

Rt. Hon Baroness D’Souza, Lord Speaker, said: Rt. Hon Baroness D’Souza, Lord Speaker, said: "Through initiatives such as ensuring lights are switched off in empty rooms to turning computer monitors off at night, Parliament is working hard to reduce its energy usage. I am really pleased to be able to reaffirm our commitment to minimising our energy consumption and delighted that once again Parliament is able to support Earth Hour."

Useful Links: For social media updates, follow:

@UKParliament on Twitter  UK Parliament on Facebook

UK Parliament on Instagram Visit the Earth Hour website

Find our more about sustainability and environmental performance in Parliament   Readmore

Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour encourages individuals, companies, organizations and Governments to switch off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m., local time worldwide, to focus attention on people-driven solutions to protecting the planet and building a bright, sustainable future.

Mr. Ban notes that the world is now entering a new era of opportunity. “Together, we can create the low-emissions future the world needs for sustainable development and a life of dignity and stability for all. Earth Hour reminds us that we all have a role to play.”

First launched in 2007, Earth Hour has become an annual event, mobilizing hundreds of millions of individuals to participate and growing to become the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment.

According to the WWF, the UN family will join the thousands of homes, offices, skylines and monuments that will go dark to put the spotlight on the issues facing the planet, and to inspire millions across the world to live more sustainably. At least 178 countries and territories are expected to take part in this year's celebrations.

So far over 366 landmarks are confirmed and will be turning off on the night of Earth Hour including iconic sites such as the Brandenburg Gate, Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, the Roman Colosseum and Marina Bay Sands.

Amongst participating countries this year 90 are taking actions to achieve impact during Earth Hour through digital interactions, engaging local communities and raising awareness, adds the WWF.


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Send Your Name Towards the Van Allen Belts With ERG!

Image: JAXA

March 15, 2016: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA: In the early days of space exploration, 1958, the first US satellite Explorer 1 discovered existence of high energy charged particles in geospace by the onboard radiation detector. The observations by subsequent explorers identified that high energy charged particles are distributed in doughnut shape surrounding Earth. This radiative zone is called the Van Allen belts named after the discoverer, Dr. James Van Allen of University of Iowa, US. The Van Allen belts dynamically change their amount of high energy charged particles depending on the solar activity (especially, during geospace storms).

However, a large number of high energy charged particles in the Van Allen belts cause failure in electronic devices mounted on spacecraft and disturb accurate measurement of the charged particles inside the belts, therefore, it was very hard to observe the heart of the Van Allen belts. Consequently, the question, “Why, When, Where, and How the high energy particles are generated and lost,” has been over half a century standing scientific mystery since the discovery of the Van Allen belts.

The ERG satellite (ERG: Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace) will challenge to reveal this mystery of the Van Allen belts with the most advanced nine science instruments. Since the Van Allen belts are distributed in wide altitude range, the ERG satellite takes a highly elliptical orbit to make comprehensive observations of high energy charged particles and electromagnetic fields in the Van Allen belts. (The apogee and perigee altitudes are about 30,000 km and 300 km, respectively, and the orbital period is about 9 hours.)

We would like to take this opportunity to collect your support messages for ERG that is about to leave the Earth toward the exploration to the Van Allen belts. Your messages and names will be printed on the aluminum plates, and these plates are going to be attached on the satellite as a part of the balance weight to commemorate your support to ERG. Now, together with ERG, let's go out to the exploration of the Van Allen belts that are the last frontier in geospace!

To Apply

Iku Shinohara
Project Manager, ERG Project Team
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science


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NASA: A Year of MMS.... MMS?

Artist concept of the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission to study how magnetic fields release energy in a process known as magnetic reconnection.

March 14, 2016: NASA launched the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission on March 12, 2015. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that orbit around Earth through the dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study a little-understood phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process that happens in space, which powers a wide variety of events, from giant explosions on the sun to green-blue auroras shimmering in the night sky.

Karen C. Fox: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

(Editor: Rob Garner:NASA)


MMS Mission Overview

NASA launched the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission on March 12, 2015. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that orbit around Earth through the dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study a little-understood phenomenon called magnetic reconnection.

Magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon unique to plasma, that is, the mix of positively and negatively charged particles that make up the stars, fill space and account for an estimated 99 percent of the observable universe.

MMS will travel directly through areas near Earth known to be magnetic reconnection sites. On the sun-side of Earth, reconnection can link the sun's magnetic field lines to Earth's magnetic field lines, allowing material and energy from the sun to funnel into Earth's magnetic environment. On the night side of Earth, reconnection is believed to help trigger aurora, also known as the northern and southern lights.

Reconnection occurs when magnetic field lines cross and release a gigantic burst of energy. It is a fundamental process throughout the universe that taps energy stored in magnetic fields and coverts it into heat and energy in the form of charged particle acceleration and large-scale flows of matter. However, magnetic reconnection can only be studied in situ in our solar system and it is most accessible in near-Earth space, where MMS will study it.

Several spacecraft, such as THEMIS and Cluster, have already sent back tantalizing data when they happened to witness a magnetic reconnection event in Earth's magnetosphere, but besides MMS, no mission is currently dedicated to the study of this phenomenon.

Mission Statement

The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission studies the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known a magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that work together to provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe.

The mission observes reconnection directly in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps us understand reconnection elsewhere as well, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space.


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If You Borrowed PROBA-2' Eyes You Would See the Partial Solar Eclipse of March 08-09 Like This

Elke D'Huys Writing

Image: PROBA-2

On 2016 March 08 and 09, a solar eclipse took place over the Pacific Ocean. This eclipse was total -that is, the entire solar disk was covered by the Moon- over Indonesia and the central Pacific, starting at sunrise over Sumatra and ending at sunset north of the Hawaiian Islands. Additionally, large parts of South-East Asia, Alaska and Australia witnessed a partial solar eclipse. The path of totality had a maximum width of 155 km and the maximum duration was 4 minutes and 9 seconds at the point of greatest eclipse, which was over the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Unfortunately, this eclipse took place during night time in Belgium, so it could not be observed from ground here. Luckily, we do have the PROBA2 spacecraft observing the Sun nearly continuously. Due to its sun-synchronous orbit, PROBA2 follows the terminator, the dividing line between day and night on earth, and was thus able to observe a partial solar eclipse. Because PROBA2 has an orbit of only 90 minutes, it passed through the Moon’s shadow and observed a partial solar eclipse two times on March 9: between 00:40 UT and 00:54 UT and again between 02:58 UT and 03:13 UT. Additionally, the Moon appeared two times in the field of view of the solar instruments onboard PROBA2, SWAP and LYRA, without obscuring the solar disk.


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ISS Astronauts Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov Return Safely to Earth After a Long, Long, Long Mission

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos review procedures aboard the International Space Station in September 2015: Image: NASA

NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Tuesday after a historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. They landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST (10:26 a.m. March 2 Kazakhstan time).

Joining their return trip aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft was Sergey Volkov, also of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who arrived on the station Sept. 4, 2015. The crew touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

“Scott Kelly’s one-year mission aboard the International Space Station has helped to advance deep space exploration and America’s Journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Scott has become the first American astronaut to spend a year in space, and in so doing, helped us take one giant leap toward putting boots on Mars.”

During the record-setting One-Year mission, the station crew conducted almost 400 investigations to advance NASA’s mission and benefit all of humanity. Kelly and Kornienko specifically participated in a number of studies to inform NASA’s Journey to Mars, including research into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and the stress of long-duration spaceflight. Kelly’s identical twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, participated in parallel twin studies on Earth to help scientists compare the effects of space on the body and mind down to the cellular level.

One particular research project examined fluid shifts that occur when bodily fluids move into the upper body during weightlessness. These shifts may be associated with visual changes and a possible increase in intracranial pressure, which are significant challenges that must be understood before humans expand exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. The study uses the Russian Chibis device to draw fluids back into the legs while the subject’s eyes are measured to track any changes. NASA and Roscosmos already are looking at continuing the Fluid Shifts investigation with future space station crews.

The crew took advantage of the unique vantage point of the space station, with an orbital path that covers more than 90 percent of Earth’s population, to monitor and capture images of our planet. They also welcomed the arrival of a new instrument to study the signature of dark matter and conducted technology demonstrations that continue to drive innovation, including a test of network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft.

Kelly and Kornienko saw the arrival of six resupply spacecraft during their mission. Kelly was involved in the robotic capture of two NASA-contracted cargo flights -- SpaceX’s Dragon during the company’s sixth commercial resupply mission and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus during the company’s fourth commercial resupply mission. A Japanese cargo craft and three Russian resupply ships also delivered several tons of supplies to the station.

Kelly ventured outside the confines of the space station for three spacewalks during his mission. The first included a variety of station upgrade and maintenance tasks, including routing cables to prepare for new docking ports for U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. On a second spacewalk, he assisted in the successful reconfiguration of an ammonia cooling system and restoration of the station to full solar power-generating capability. The third spacewalk was to restore functionality to the station’s Mobile Transporter system.

Including crewmate Gennady Padalka, with whom Kelly and Kornienko launched on March 27, 2015, 10 astronauts and cosmonauts representing six different nations (the United States, Russia, Japan, Denmark, Kazakhstan and England) lived aboard the space station during the yearlong mission.

With the end of this mission, Kelly now has spent 520 days in space, the most among U.S. astronauts. Kornienko has accumulated 516 days across two flights, and Volkov has 548 days on three flights.

Expedition 47 continues operating the station, with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in command. Kopra, Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members in about two weeks. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on March 18.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that enables us to demonstrate new technologies and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. It has been continuously occupied since November 2000 and, since then, has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next giant leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about the one-year mission, visit

For more information about the International Space Station and its crews, visit

Stephanie Schierholz: Headquarters, Washington: 202-358-1100

Dan Huot: Johnson Space Center, Houston: 281-483-5111

( Editor: Karen Northon: NASA)


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Scott Kelly's Last Sunrise From ISS: Homeward Bound He Is


NASA astronaut Scott Kelly shared a series of sunrise photographs with his social media followers on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, as he prepared to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft. Posting this first image, Kelly wrote, "Rise and shine! My last #sunrise from space then I gotta go! 1 of 5. #GoodMorning from @space_station! #YearInSpace"

Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz from the space station at 8:02 p.m. EST and land in Kazakhstan at 11:25 p.m.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. Kelly surpassed the previous record for time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut on Oct. 16, 2015. After his return, he will have spent a total of 520 days in space across four space missions. During the 340 days of this mission – which spanned four space station expeditions – Kelly has participated in a variety of research that will help scientists better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to long-duration spaceflight. That knowledge will play a critical role in future NASA missions deeper into the solar system and on the Journey to Mars, in which a round-trip mission is likely to last 500 days or longer.

( Editor: Sarah Loff: NASA)


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The Moon on Earth

In this striking view of the Giordano Bruno crater, the height and sharpness of the rim are evident, as well as the crater floor's rolling hills and rugged nature. Image: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

New Lunar Exhibit Features NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Imagery.

Images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will be on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. beginning Feb. 26.

The new exhibit, “A New Moon Rises: New Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera,” displays the dramatic lunar landscapes captured by the LRO Camera (LROC). The 61 large prints in the exhibition reveal a celestial neighbor that is surprisingly dynamic by celestial standards. They reveal newly formed impact craters, recent volcanic activity, and a crust being fractured by shrinking of a still cooling interior.

“Most people do not realize that the moon is still a very active place, and that it has breathtaking landscapes that are both familiar and alien,” said Tom Watters, senior scientist at the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies and curator of the exhibition in Washington.

“A New Moon Rises” is divided into six themes – Global Views, Exploration Sites, Discoveries, Vistas, Topography and Craters. These themes helped to determine which of the thousands of images taken by the LROC would be chosen for display. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see new images from LROC projected on a large screen. The new images will be updated daily. The exhibition includes a display of spare cameras and a large 3-D model of a young lunar crater.

“To me the LROC images reveal the moon to be a mysterious and beautiful place—a whole world just three days away,” said Mark Robinson, LROC instrument principal investigator at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. “It is my hope that visitors will walk away from the show excited about the moon.”

The exhibition is made possible by the support of NASA and Arizona State University.

“The lunar landscape is truly spectacular, and it's gratifying to know that this exhibit will bring new views of the moon to the huge audience that visits NASM every year,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon. LRO is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

For more information on LRO

Nancy Neal Jones: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
( Editor: Karl Hille:NASA)


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Tropical Fires Fuel Elevated Ozone Levels Over Western Pacific Ocean

Anderson and his colleagues traced the ozone-laden air pockets back 10 to 15 days in most cases—right back to fires in either Southeast Asia, about 2,000 miles away, or tropical Africa, over 8,000 miles away.

Image: NASA

A diverse team of atmospheric chemists, meteorologists and modelers, including scientists from NASA, has traced the origins of mysterious pockets of high ozone concentrations and low water vapor in the air above the western Pacific Ocean near Guam to fires burning in Southeast Asia and in Africa, half a world away.

These pockets of ozone—a powerful greenhouse gas—are three times more concentrated than surrounding air and are found at around 30,000 feet in the lower part of Earth’s atmosphere known as the troposphere, within the cruising altitude of most commercial airliners. As a greenhouse gas, ozone in the troposphere is an important contributor to global warming, but because it varies widely in where it occurs and how long it stays aloft, its true impact on climate change is hard to determine.

Scientists have observed the anomaly in ozone concentrations in the past, theorizing that the ozone had descended from a higher layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere, where the air is dry and ozone acts as a protective layer, since it blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth’s surface.

But researchers studying the air over Guam during the winter of 2014 during a pair of field campaigns, called the Convective Transport of Active Species in the Tropics and the Co-ordinated Airborne Studies in the Tropics, found something surprising. The scientific instruments aboard the two research aircraft captured a more comprehensive picture of the chemicals traveling with the ozone—chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and acetonitrile, which originate in fires.

"When we saw high ozone [concentrations] we also saw very high concentrations of those other [chemical] species, so it was a pretty strong indicator that fires were at least playing some sort of role in the ozone production," said Daniel Anderson, lead author and graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park, who was part of the international research team studying the atmosphere above the Western Pacific. The effort was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications in January.

To determine if the ozone and the accompanying chemicals came from fires, Anderson and his colleagues used a computer model to trace the air pockets backwards through time based on wind and other factors. The model uses observed weather data combined with the simulated behavior of the atmosphere to find where the wind came from one hour previously, and then based on the new location, where the wind came from the hour before that, and so on, determining the history of the air pocket as it moved through the atmosphere.

Anderson and his colleagues traced the ozone-laden air pockets back 10 to 15 days in most cases—right back to fires in either Southeast Asia, about 2,000 miles away, or tropical Africa, over 8,000 miles away.

"We were surprised at how well it worked out, because it created a very clear picture," Anderson said.

Ozone is a by product of burning organic material like trees and other vegetation—or of the combustion of fossil fuels in industrial settings. Burning organic matter transforms part of the carbon that was in the vegetation into its gaseous forms, including carbon dioxide, methane and what are known as volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds combine with another by product of burning, nitrogen oxides, and together they form ozone in the presence of sunlight.

The smoke plumes from the fires and updrafts from large storm systems then lift the ozone—along with ozone precursors, which continue to react in transit, and other tracer compounds produced by fires—high into the atmosphere where winds transport them thousands of miles away.

The high-altitude transport also explains why the air pockets are drier than the surrounding air, Anderson said. Dry air is normally associated with the stratosphere—the previous hypothesis—because air found higher in the atmosphere is colder, and thus cannot hold as much moisture. But the upper troposphere is also much colder than the lower troposphere, achieving the same effect of drying out the high ozone air pockets. Then, when they slowly descend over the western Pacific due to normal atmospheric circulation, the air pockets continue to have lower water vapor than their surroundings.

Tropical fires have long been known to have an impact on the atmosphere, said Bryan Duncan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who was not involved in the research. The next step, he said, will be to evaluate how this new understanding of tropical fires as another the source for ozone in the western Pacific affects the greenhouse potential for both the region and the climate on a broader scale.

Read the paper at Nature Communications

NASA's Fire and Smoke page

Ellen Gray

NASA's Earth Science News Team

( Editor: Karl Hille: NASA)


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'There's No Place Like Home...........' We are Coming Home! On March 1

Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov: Image: NASA

One-Year Mission crew members at ISS, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will conclude 340 days aboard the International Space Station, returning in the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft along with Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. Kelly and Kornienko arrived at the station March 27, 2015, and Volkov joined the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory Sept. 4, 2015. Landing is scheduled at 11:27 p.m. ET (4:27 UTC and 10:27 a.m. local time in Kazakhstan on March 2).


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Natural Wonders of the Earth in the United States of America

Sand to Snow National Monument

February 17: Our country is home to some of the most beautiful God-given landscapes in the world. We’re blessed with natural treasures – from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon; from lush forests and vast deserts to lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife. And it’s our responsibility to protect these treasures for future generations, just as previous generations protected them for us: President Barack Obama: February 16, 2016

Breathtaking images of awe-inspiring natural beauty are posted at the bottom of this page. Please, scroll down to take a look.


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ESA Sentinel-3A Ready to Launch at 17:57 GMT Today

Workhorse mission for Copernicus: Each Sentinel-3 satellite carries four instruments that work together to provide systematic measurements of Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere. These measurements will be used to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics and will be used for ocean and weather forecasting. The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) delivers high-accuracy temperature readings of Earth’s surface at a spatial resolution of 500 m for visible/near-infrared and short-wavelength infrared channels, and at 1 km for the thermal infrared channels. It includes two channels for monitoring wildfires. The medium-resolution Ocean and Land Colour Instrument has 21 bands and a spatial resolution of 300 m per pixel to map changing land cover and to monitor ocean biology and water quality. The dual-frequency advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter measures sea-surface height, ocean surface waves, sea-ice extent and the height of large inland rivers and lakes. The Microwave Radiometer is used to correct measurements from the radar altimeter affected by water vapour in the atmosphere.Released 05/02/2016 1:57 pm: Copyright ESA/ATG medialab

15 February 2016: Yesterday, a ‘team of teams’ working at ESA’s control centre conducted a final rehearsal for tomorrow’s launch of Sentinel-3A.

The rehearsal was the culmination of almost six months’ intensive training for 50 engineers and scientists working on the Sentinel-3A satellite launch, set for 16 February at 17:57 GMT (18:57 CET).

Sentinel-3A carries a suite of sophisticated instruments that will measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere, providing essential information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting as part of Europe’s revolutionary Copernicus programme.

The day-long session saw the team sitting ‘on console’ in the Main Control Room at ESA’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, being led through the countdown, the liftoff and the initial hours of flight until the satellite’s solar panel opened after about two hours.

 “We’ve practised all phases of the flight during more than 25 ‘sim’ sessions, including when everything goes according to plan, and when anomalies or system failures occur,” says satellite operations manager José Morales.

“Every team member knows his or her job, and more importantly, we know how to react as a team to unexpected contingencies.

“Sentinel-3A will present us with a classic set of challenges to get it through the launch and early orbits. Everything has to happen just right, in the right sequence and at the right time.”

Directing flight: Flight Director Pier Paolo Emanuelli and Sentinel Project Representative Omar Sy watching mission progress from the Main Control Room at ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany, during the Sentinel-2A liftoff, 23 June 2015.  Released 26/06/2015 3:58 pm: Copyright ESA/J. Mai - CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Yesterday’s rehearsal involved the extended ‘team of teams’ at ESA that will see the new satellite through its first three days.

The team included satellite engineers, specialists working on tracking stations and the sophisticated ‘ground segment’ – the hardware and software used to control the satellite and distribute its data – and experts working in flight dynamics, software and networks, as well as simulation and training teams.

In a sim, engineers use the actual mission control system to operate and operate a faithful software replication of the real Sentinel-3A satellite that responds to their commands just as the real one will.

Trainers, working in a separate room, inject a carefully staged series of faults, errors and failures into the satellite or into the software and systems used to fly it.

Under the watchful eye of senior flight director Pier Paolo Emanuelli, mission controllers must recognise and assess the problem and apply the correct procedure.

“The design of Sentinel-3A means that we’ll face some interesting challenges,” says Pier Paolo, who serves as flight director for all the Sentinel missions controlled from ESOC.

 “The design of the attitude control system means it could take up to four hours after separation from the launcher to fully stabilise the satellite.

“We also have limited battery time, about five hours, and we have to ensure a power-positive status within this timeframe.

“However, after an intense and successful simulation campaign culminating with the dress rehearsal, we are confident that the mission control team is fully ready and trained for the launch and operations of Sentinel-3A.”

The satellite will be flown by ESA until the instruments are commissioned – expected in about five months. It will then be transferred to Eumetsat, the European organisation for the exploitation of meteorological satellites, for routine operation.

Sentinel-3A will be joined in orbit by Sentinel-3B next year, providing a revisit time over almost any point on Earth of under two days for this mission’s crucial optical-sensing instruments.


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Living Planet Symposium 2016 May 9-13 in Prague

Image: LPS

The 2016 European Space Agency Living Planet Symposium follows the previous successful symposia held in Edinburgh (2013), Bergen (2010), Montreux (2007) and Salzburg (2004).

The event will be held in Prague, Czech Republic from 9-13 May 2016 and is organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic and the local support from Charles University in Prague.

A first announcement has been released, with a deadline for abstract submission on 16 October 2015. Authors can check here their submitted abstracts. All received abstracts have been reviewed by a Scientific Committee, notification of acceptance has been provided in early February 2016. Registration to attend the event (free of charge) has been opened in February 2016, after the publication of the preliminary programme.

Full papers for accepted contributions shall be provided at the event and will be published as ESA Special Publication. An Exhibition will be running from 9 to 12 May 2016. Before the official opening on Monday 9 May, keynote presentations are scheduled.


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NASA, University Study Shows Rising Seas Slowed by Increasing Water on Land

Carol Rasmussen Writes

Image: NASA

New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.

A new study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth’s continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

The water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world’s seventh largest lake. The study is published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Each year, a large amount of water evaporates from the oceans, falls over land as rain or snow, and returns to the oceans through runoff and river flows. This is known as the global hydrologic, or water, cycle. Scientists have long known small changes in the hydrologic cycle -- by persistent regional changes in soil moisture or lake levels, for instance -- could change the rate of sea level rise from what we would expect based on ice sheet and glacier melt rates. However, they did not know how large the land storage effect would be because there were no instruments that could accurately measure global changes in liquid water on land.

"We always assumed that people’s increased reliance on groundwater for irrigation and consumption was resulting in a net transfer of water from the land to the ocean,” said lead author J.T. Reager of JPL, who began work on the study as a graduate student at UC Irvine. "What we didn’t realize until now is that over the past decade, changes in the global water cycle more than offset the losses that occurred from groundwater pumping, causing the land to act like a sponge -- at least temporarily. These new data are vital for understanding decadal variations in sea level change. The information will be a critical complement to future long-term projections of sea level rise, which depend on melting ice and warming oceans.”

The 2002 launch of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites provided the first tool capable of quantifying land liquid water storage trends. By measuring the distance between the two GRACE satellites to within the width of a strand of human hair as they orbit Earth, researchers can detect changes in Earth’s gravitational pull that result from regional changes in the amount of water across Earth’s surface. With careful analysis of these data, JPL scientists were able to measure the change in liquid water storage on the continents, as well as the changes in ice sheets and glaciers.

“These results will lead to a refinement of global sea level budgets, such as those presented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, which acknowledge the importance of climate-driven changes in hydrology, but have been unable to include any reliable estimate of their contribution to sea level changes,” said JPL senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti, senior author of the paper and a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Famiglietti also noted the study is the first to observe global patterns of changes in land water storage, with wet regions getting more wet and dry areas getting drier.

“These patterns are consistent with earlier observations of changing precipitation over both land and oceans, and with IPCC projections of changing precipitation under a warming climate,” he said. “But we’ll need a much longer data record to fully understand the underlying cause of the patterns and whether they will persist.”

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more on NASA's sea level rise research:

More information on the GRACE mission can be found at:

For more on how NASA studies Earth:

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

Sean Potter : Headquarters, Washington

Alan Buis: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Brian Bell: University of California, Irvine
( Editor: Karen Northon: NASA)


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Earth' s 30-Piece Satellite-Necklace Made of Galileo Satellite Constellation

30-satellite Galileo constellation: Released 18/07/2014 9:00 am: Copyright ESA-P. Carril

The complete Galileo constellation will consist of 30 satellites along three orbital planes in medium Earth orbit (including two spares per orbit). The result will be Europe’s largest ever fleet of satellites, operating in the new environment of medium-Earth orbit, providing worldwide navigation coverage.


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The Asteroid Day Celebrations Around the Earth: June 30


ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission is joined by two triple-unit CubeSats to observe the impact of the NASA-led Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) probe with the secondary Didymos asteroid, planned for late 2022. AIM and CubeSats watch impact: Released 26/06/2015 11:15 am: Copyright ESA -

9 February 2016: Asteroid Day, a global movement to increase knowledge and awareness of asteroids, announced its plans for 2016 from a press conference hosted at ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands and livestreamed around the world.

Participants included astrophysicist and guitarist of rock group Queen Brian May and filmmaker Grigori Richters – who together founded Asteroid Day – as well as astronauts Tom Jones, Dorin Prunariu, Ed Lu, Chris Hadfield, Rakesh Sharma, Soyeon Yi,and Anousheh Ansari.

Also taking part were Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt; Bill Nye, Planetary Society CEO, Lord Martin Rees, UK Astronomer Royal; Amanda Sickafoose of the South African Astronomical Observatory and Franco Ongaro, ESA’s Director of Technical and Quality Management.

Ian Carnelli, project manager for ESA’s proposed Asteroid Impact Mission, spoke from the ESTEC technical centre at Noordwijk, the Netherlands: “ESA has been studying the role of space missions to address the asteroid hazard over the last 15 years.

Didymos binary asteroids model. Model of the Didymos binary asteroid system, target of ESA's proposed Asteroid Impact Mission: Released 09/02/2016 4:57 pm: Copyright ESA

 “Today we have the technology to change the path of an asteroid, but we need to test our technology in space and learn if our models are correct by measuring all the relevant parameters.”

Four-time NASA Shuttle astronaut Tom Jones, now a board member of the Association of Space Explorers, commented: “The Association of Space Explorers continues to promote international cooperation in confronting the risks of a future asteroid impact on Earth.

“Our association of astronauts and cosmonauts is excited about supporting Asteroid Day 2016, appearing at Asteroid Day events around the globe and sharing our belief that space technology can find rogue asteroids and prevent a future damaging impact on our planet.”

 Asteroid Day is held on 30 June – the anniversary of the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history, at Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908. The first Asteroid Day was launched in 2015, inspiring more than 150 events worldwide, attended by tens of thousands of scientists, academics and member s of the public.

Events are organised independently by museums, research institutes, government agencies, universities, astronomers, filmmakers and concerned citizens.

Mr Richters, Asteroid Day Executive Director, announced international partners as well as six ‘premiere events’ for this year’s Day:

- Barcelona, Spain, hosted by ICE (Spanish National Research Council)

- Tenerife, Spain, hosted by the Starmus Festival

- San Francisco, USA, hosted by the California Academy of Sciences/B612

- Vienna, Austria, hosted by the Natural History Museum

- Seoul, South Korea, hosted by the Gwacheon National Science Museum.

Asteroid Day


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NASA Global Hawk to Begin NOAA El Nino Storm Mission

NASA's remotely piloted Global Hawk aircraft will complete a series of flights in February to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign. The mission, called Sensing Hazards Operational Unmanned Technology or SHOUT, will focus on gathering El Niño storm data out over the Pacific Ocean. Credits: NASA / Jim Ross

NASA and NOAA are teaming up again to send NASA’s remotely piloted Global Hawk out over the Pacific to take a closer look at storms brewed by this year’s strong El Niño. The observation flights are part of an ongoing NOAA mission, called Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT).

Based from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, the Global Hawk will fly four to six 24-hour flights during the month of February. The mission will provide detailed meteorological measurements from a region in the Pacific that is known to be particularly critical for interactions linked to West Coast storms and rainfall.

SHOUT is a multi-year NOAA project, designed to demonstrate the use of autonomous aircraft to fill in data gaps for weather modeling systems in case the loss of a polar-orbiting satellite occurs.

This year SHOUT will support NOAA’s larger El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign. In addition to the Global Hawk, NOAA will also deploy a Gulfstream IV research plane and NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown that will have researchers stationed on Kiritimati (Christmas) Island in the Republic of Kiribati, approximately 1,340 miles south of Honolulu. Together, scientists will collect atmospheric data from the tropical Pacific where El Niño-driven weather systems are spawned.

El Niño is a recurring climate phenomenon, characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, which increases the odds for warm and dry winters across the Northern United States and cool, wet winters across the South. El Niño is the warm phase of the ocean cycle known as El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO for short. La Niña is the cool phase. The pattern can shift back and forth every two to seven years, disrupting weather patterns across the globe.

The Global Hawk aircraft offers NASA and NOAA scientists a unique vantage point to observe atmospheric conditions with its ability to fly at 65,000 feet and for periods of up to 30 hours. These long-endurance and high-altitude observations give NOAA scientists the opportunity to see a larger picture of how atmospheric changes in the tropics are directly impacting weather activity in the Western U.S.

“The Global Hawk provides amazing capability in its ability to be airborne for 24-hours or more. With the aircraft’s long-endurance we can sample a large range of the ocean, much like a satellite does but in much greater detail,” says Gary Wick, lead NOAA scientist for the SHOUT mission.

The aircraft will carry a suite of four instruments including a dropsonde system called the Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System, or AVAPS. The dropsondes, small tube-shaped sensors, are deployed from the aircraft in-flight and transmit real-time data on air temperature, humidity, and wind speed. The High Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP) instrument, operated and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the High Altitude MMIC Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR) instrument, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will collect remote observations of the area, producing data similar to satellite observations. The final instrument, NOAA-O3, will measure ozone at the level of the aircraft is located.

For more information on SHOUT

For more information on NOAA’s El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign

Kate Squires: Public Affairs Specialist: NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

( Editor: Yvonne Gibbs: NASA)


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Elbaran Tibet

Elbara in Tibet: Released 29/01/2016 3:17 pm
Copyright CAREERI/UT-ITC: An ‘Elbara’ L-band radiometer placed on the Tibetan Plateau to help interpret measurements from ESA’s SMOS mission. Ground-truth measurements form an important part of the mission. To include different soil types and vegetation cover, validation measurements are made in many parts of the world, from Spain to Antarctica. New Elbara systems were recently placed in Poland and on the Tibetan Plateau. Understanding the Tibetan Plateau’s water cycle is extremely important to manage Asia’s water resources since major rivers such as the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtze and the Yellow River are all fed from the plateau.


29 January 2016: Ground measurements are essential for making sure that satellites deliver accurate information about our changing world. Although the Tibetan Plateau may not seem the obvious place to take such readings, this remote location is being used to check on ESA’s SMOS satellite.

SMOS uses an innovative technique of capturing images of ‘brightness temperature’. Corresponding to radiation emitted from Earth’s surface, these images are used to produce maps of soil moisture and ocean salinity – two important variables in the water cycle.

Even before the SMOS satellite was launched in 2009, field experiments formed an important part of its development. Since then, continual efforts have been made to ensure its data are fit for purpose.

For this exercise to be as comprehensive as possible, in situ measurements have to be taken from all over the world. For example, to address the soil moisture part of the mission, measurements have to be taken from places that have different types of soil and vegetation cover.

To provide comparable measurements from the ground, Gamma in Switzerland built a number of ‘Elbara’ L-band radiometers, two of which were recently placed on the Tibetan Plateau and in Poland.

 While SMOS continues to deliver key information on soil moisture and ocean salinity to advance our understanding of the planet, it is becoming increasingly important for ‘real world’ applications such as forecasting weather and crop yields.

Understanding the Tibetan Plateau’s water cycle is extremely important to manage Asia’s water resources because major rivers such as the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtze and the Yellow River are all fed from the plateau.

The plateau also plays a critical role in the onset, intensity and duration of the East Asian monsoon as strong surface heating and cooling affects the development of weather systems. It is also known that high-altitude ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change.

Thanks to collaboration with the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the micrometeorological station near Maqu is now home to an Elbara.

Prof. Bob Su from the university’s Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation said, “We know that the soil moisture and surface temperature trends on the Tibetan Plateau change with elevation and depend on the season.

“However, we can only hypothesise about whether this is also connected soil–water freezing and thawing. The Elbara radiometer is the ideal tool to observe the freeze–thaw cycle and underlying processes.”

 With the third instrument now providing measurements in Tibet, a fourth has also been placed in Poland to measure a wetland site.

ESA’s SMOS campaign coordinator, Tânia Casal, said, “Comparing SMOS brightness temperatures with similar measurements is certainly one key element in the quality control of our observations.

“These ground-based Elbara measurements allow us to better understand complex processes and their influence on the SMOS signal in a well-controlled environment on the ground.”


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NASA Sees Dawn and Records Breaking as Major Winter Storm Departs

On January 24, 2016 at 11:45 UTC (6:45 a.m. EST) NOAA's GOES- East satellite captured an image of the major winter storm over the Atlantic Ocean, just east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. NASA/NOAA GOES Project

NASA Sees Dawn and Records Breaking as Major Winter Storm Departs

NASA and NOAA gathered night-time and daytime views of the Blizzard of 2016 from the Suomi NPP and the GOES-East satellites. NASA's GPM satellite provided a look at the moisture wrapping into the storm from the Atlantic Ocean. The 2016 blizzard occurred just 4 days before 2015's major northeast blizzard.

On January 23, 2016 at 1239 UTC (7:39 a.m. EST) NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core observatory passed above the deadly winter storm that was burying the Northeast under a deep layer of snow. As GPM passed above, it observed a band of snow approaching the island of Manhattan.  GPM's Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instruments showed massive amounts of moisture being transported from the Atlantic Ocean over states from New York westward through West Virginia.  GPM's Radar instruments provided 3-D data (DPR Ku Band) showing the 3-D structure of rainfall within bands of precipitation in the winter storm.

A combination of the day-night band and high resolution infrared imagery from the NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite showed the historic blizzard as it moved north of the Mid-Atlantic and over the New York Metropolitan area and southern New England at 06:55 UTC (1:55 a.m. EST) on January 24, 2016. The nighttime lights of the region were blurred by the high cloud tops associated with the storm.

On Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 3:55 a.m. EST NOAA's National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland said "Snow is tapering off over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as the winter storm system tracks further offshore. This system dumped copious amounts of snow over West Virginia, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. A few locations came close to, or surpassed all-time 1-day and 2-day snow records. Accumulations of 2 to 3 feet were common, with a few isolated areas in the West Virginia and Maryland panhandles measuring 3.5 feet."

Snowfall Records Broken in Mid-Atlantic

This storm set quite a number of snowfall records in the Mid-Atlantic north to New York City on January 23, 2016. In the Baltimore/Washington metro area, all three airports recorded record snowfall according to NOAA's National Weather Service.

A record snowfall of 11.3 inches was set at Washington Reagan National airport. This breaks the old record of 11.0 set in 1935. A record snowfall of 25.5 inches was set at Baltimore BWI Thurgood Marshall airport. This breaks the old record of 11.5 set in 1935. A record snowfall for the day of 22.1 inches was set at Washington Dulles airport yesterday. This breaks the old record of 1.7 set in 1982.

Snowfall records also fell from Richmond, Virginia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The NWS noted that a record snowfall of 5.3 inches was set at Richmond, Virginia. This breaks the old record of 2.7 inches set back in 1908. In central Pennsylvania, snow totals were much higher. A record daily snowfall of 26.4 inches was set at Harrisburg. This breaks the old record of 9.5 inches set on January 23 in 1982. A continuous weather record has been kept at Harrisburg since 1888.

Snowfall Records Fall in the Northeast

Newark, New Jersey, Central Park in New York City and Connecticut also reported record-breaking snowfall on January 23.

A record snowfall of 27.5 inches was set at Newark, New Jersey. This breaks the old record of 4.5 set in 2005.

According to the National Weather Service, Central Park received the second greatest storm total snowfall set and the greatest daily snowfall record. Storm total snowfall for the current snowstorm at midnight was at 26.8 inches. This is only 0.1 inch shy of the all-time record storm total snowfall of 26.9 inches...set during the snowstorm of February 11-12 2006. A record all time daily snowfall record snowfall of 26.6 has also been set at the park. The previous record was 24.1 inches...set on Feb 12 2006.

To the northeast in Connecticut, a record snowfall of 12 inches was set at Bridgeport. This breaks the old record of 7.1 set in 1965.

In Westerly, Rhode Island, 10.5 inches of snow were reported and East Harwich, Massachusetts on Cape Cod reported 15.5 inches.

As residents from the Mid-Atlantic to the northeastern U.S. were waking up to daylight and the record-setting snowfall at 11:45 UTC (6:45 a.m. EST) on January 24, 2016, NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental or GOES-East satellite showed the system centered over the North Atlantic Ocean just east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The image was created by the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

GOES satellites provide the kind of continuous monitoring necessary for intensive data analysis. Geostationary describes an orbit in which a satellite is always in the same position with respect to the rotating Earth. This allows GOES to hover continuously over one position on Earth's surface, appearing stationary. As a result, GOES provide a constant vigil for the atmospheric "triggers" for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes.

One Year Ago: An Historic Northeastern U.S. Blizzard

Back in 2015, NASA and NOAA satellites were covering another blizzard that happened within the same week. On Jan. 27, 2015 the National Weather Service noted "the powerful nor'easter that brought moderate to heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions to the Northeast on Monday will continue to affect the region on Tuesday, with heavy snow and blizzard conditions expected from eastern Long Island to Maine as the system slowly moves to the northeast."

Over the last two years, the last week of January has brought two record-setting storms and NASA and NOAA satellites continue to provide valuable data to forecasters.

For updated information about the storm system, visit NOAA's NWS website

For more information about GOES satellites, visit  Or

For more information about Suomi NPP  And
For information about the January 2015 storm, visit

Rob Gutro: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center


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The Earth-CARE Observing the Earth


EarthCARE: Released 20/12/2013 11:24 am: Copyright ESA–P. Carril, 2013

EarthCARE will advance our understanding of the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incident solar radiation back into space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface. These observations are in much-need to improve climate predictions and weather forecasts.

EarthCARE – the largest and most complex Earth Explorer mission to date – is being developed as a joint venture between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA.


P: 240116


NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015

2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to a new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The record-breaking year continues a long-term warming trend — 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have now occurred since 2001.Credits: Scientific Visualization Studio/Goddard Space Flight Center


The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.


Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.

The 2015 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York (GISTEMP). NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2015 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data. Because weather station locations and measurements change over time, there is some uncertainty in the individual values in the GISTEMP index. Taking this into account, NASA analysis estimates 2015 was the warmest year with 94 percent certainty.

“Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice - now is the time to act on climate.”

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Last year was the first time the global average temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average.

Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the tropical Pacific Ocean, can contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño was in effect for most of 2015.

“2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Niño,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “Last year’s temperatures had an assist from El Niño, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.”

Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year. For example, NASA and NOAA found that the 2015 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record.

NASA’s analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations. These raw measurements are analyzed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heating effects that could skew the conclusions if left unaccounted for. The result of these calculations is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.

NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but a different baseline period, and different methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures.

GISS is a NASA laboratory managed by the Earth Sciences Division of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. The agency develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. NASA shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

The full 2015 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculation are available at:

The slides for the Wednesday, Jan. 20 news conference are available at:

For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit:

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington

Michael Cabbage / Leslie McCarthy
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York
212-678-5516 / 5507  /
( Editor: Karen Northon: NASA)


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ESA's Sentinel 3A to Lift Off on February 4 on an SS-19 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Converted into a Rocket to Observe the Earth

 Sentinel-3: Released 13/01/2016 10:43 am: Copyright ESA/ATG medialab
Sentinel-3 is arguably the most comprehensive of all the Sentinel missions for Europe’s Copernicus programme. Carrying a suite of state-of-the-art instruments, it provides systematic measurements of Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics and provide critical information for ocean and weather forecasting.

14 January 2016: Following the Christmas break, the Sentinel-3A satellite has been taken out of its storage container and woken up as the campaign to prepare it for launch resumes at the Russian Plesetsk cosmodrome. Liftoff is set for 4 February.

This latest satellite for Europe’s environmental Copernicus programme has been at the launch site since early December going through a series of tests and being readied for the big day.

Since the cosmodrome was effectively closed over the Christmas break, the satellite has been stored safely in its transport container in the cleanroom over the last three weeks.

The European Commission’s Copernicus is now well and truly powering ahead as its comprehensive integrated system of Sentinel satellites grows. Carrying a suite of cutting-edge instruments, Sentinel-3A will join the Sentinel-1A radar satellite and the Sentinel-2A high-resolution optical satellite in orbit to monitor the health of our planet.

Copernicus is a revolution in Earth observation, offering a range of operational and sustained environmental services to benefit European policymakers and citizens alike.

This latest multitalented mission will measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics. It will provide critical information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting.

Before it can get to work, however, there is the important task of getting it ready for liftoff.

Greeted by temperatures of –27°C, the first team members, which included people from ESA, Thales Alenia Space and Eurockot, arrived back in Plesetsk earlier this week.

Their first task was to make sure the facilities were still spotless and then they could wake their baby from its slumber and get it into the right position to work on.

Following confirmation that the ground system is ready to control the satellite, the team at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Germany has been simulating the launch and early orbit phase as part of its training.

Over the next couple of weeks the satellite will be fuelled, joined to the rocket’s upper stage, sealed in the fairing and rolled out to the launch pad.

It will then be taken into orbit on a Rockot, which is a converted SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile, to begin its life monitoring our planet.


P: 190116


This is NASA's Greek Aurora!

NASA Releases Image of GREECE Mission Launching Into Aurora

A NASA-funded sounding rocket launches into an aurora in the early morning of March 3, 2014, over Venetie, Alaska. The GREECE mission studies how certain structures – classic curls like swirls of cream in coffee -- form in the aurora. Credits: NASA/Christopher Perry


On March 3, 2014, at 6:09 a.m. EST, a NASA-funded sounding rocket launched straight into an aurora over Venetie, Alaska. The Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics – Electron Correlative Experiment, or GREECE, sounding rocket mission, which launched from Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska, will study classic curls in the aurora in the night sky.

"The conditions were optimal," said Marilia Samara, principal investigator for the mission at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "We can't wait to dig into the data."

More information on the GREECE mission

Karen C. Fox
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
( Editor: Rob Garner: NASA)


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Sentinel 3A: European Mission Control Specialists are Set to Be Very Busy

 Sentinel-3 is ejected from the Breeze upper stage of the ROCKOT launcher: Released 20/01/2016 10:16 am: Sentinel-3 is arguably the most comprehensive of all the Sentinel missions for Europe’s Copernicus programme. Carrying a suite of state-of-the-art instruments, it provides systematic measurements of Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics and provide critical information for ocean and weather forecasting. Copyright ESA–Pierre Carril


5 February 2016: Moments after Sentinel-3A separates from its rocket, a team of European mission control specialists will assume control, shepherding the new spacecraft through its critical first days in space.

Carrying a suite of cutting-edge instruments, Sentinel-3A is set to join the Sentinel-1A radar satellite and the Sentinel-2A high-resolution optical satellite in orbit to monitor the health of our planet.

This latest multitalented mission will measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics. It will provide essential information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting as part of Europe’s revolutionary Copernicus programme.

The job of lofting the 1150-kg satellite into orbit will be carried out by a multistage 29-m tall Rockot launcher, set to lift off from Plesetsk, Russia, on 16 February.

From its initial leap off the pad at 17:57 UTC (18:57 CET) until the satellite separates from the Breeze upper stage high in space, the journey will take just 80 minutes, with Sentinel-3A injected into a polar orbit at about 815 km altitude, orbiting 40 times faster than an aircraft.

At ESOC, ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, a team of highly trained specialists will be watching closely, waiting for Sentinel-3A to complete an initial automated sequence and start transmitting a signal via the Agency’s Kiruna ground station in Sweden.

 “After separation from the Breeze upper stage, we have to wait about 13 minutes for first ‘acquisition of signal’ over Kiruna, while our satellite uses its sensors and actuators to stabilise towards a Sun-pointing attitude,” says Spacecraft Operations Manager José Morales.

“At that point, we expect to establish stable communication with our ‘new-born baby’, enabling us to verify its health and status, assume command and start the complex process of bringing it into a stable Earth-pointing mode.”

Mission controllers will be very anxious to verify that the power-producing solar arrays have automatically deployed, as the onboard batteries will only last five to six hours.

“The first 36 hours will be the most intensive,” says José.

Receipt of the radio signals from space will mark the start of an extremely busy three-day period for José and his colleagues, who will work round the clock to operate the spacecraft through the critical LEOP – the launch and early orbit phase – for which the Mission Control Team has trained for months.

 Training for LEOP involved multiple teams of engineers and scientists at ESOC totalling about 50 people, including spacecraft engineers, specialists working on tracking stations and the sophisticated ‘ground segment’ – the hardware and software used to control the satellite and distribute its data – and experts working in flight dynamics, software and networks, as well as simulation and training teams.

The simulation training campaign followed several years of preparation at the ESOC centre, during which engineers developed flight procedures, built up the ground systems that will control the satellite and tested hardware and software using live data connections to the actual satellite as it was being built and assembled.

For launch, the team at ESOC includes representatives from ESA’s Sentinel project team, as well as several operations engineers integrated within the Flight Control Team and shared with Eumetsat, the European organisation for the exploitation of meteorological satellites.

 “This ‘team of teams’ has conducted 25 training sessions since August 2015, using sophisticated simulator software to practice flying the spacecraft through both nominal and contingency situations,” says Pier Paolo Emanuelli, the ESA Flight Director overseeing the launch of all Sentinel satellites.

“The operations and payload teams have worked hard for many months together with colleagues from Eumetsat, the Copernicus project and European industry to ensure everything is ready for Sentinel-3A launch.”

Eumetsat will take over responsibility for Sentinel-3A at the start of the operational phase, once it has been fully checked out and its payload commissioned, expected in July.

“On launch day, when we catch the first signals from space, that’s when teamwork, experience and expertise will combine to ensure the success of this crucial mission,” says Paolo Ferri, Head of Mission Operations at ESA.


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Natural Wonders of the Earth in the United States of America

Our country is home to some of the most beautiful God-given landscapes in the world. We’re blessed with natural treasures – from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon; from lush forests and vast deserts to lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife. And it’s our responsibility to protect these treasures for future generations, just as previous generations protected them for us: President Barack Obama: February 16, 2016

President Obama has taken unprecedented action to invest and conserve America's natural treasures. The natural and cultural richness of our national parks, monuments, forests, and public lands are important reflections of our environmental responsibility and the legacy we leave to future generations. That is why this President has protected more than 265 million acres of land and water – more than any other president in history.

Today, he's adding a few million acres more.

Today, he designated three new national monuments in the California desert: Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument.

These designations encompass nearly 1.8 million acres and nearly double the number of acres of public lands that he's previously protected. Take a look and find out a bit more about our nation's newest national monuments.


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Spanning 1.6 million acres, including 400,000 acres of previously congressionally-designated Wilderness, the Mojave Trails National Monument is comprised of a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes.


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The monument will protect irreplaceable historic resources including ancient Native American trading routes, World War II-era training camps, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66.
















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The area has been a focus of study and research for decades, including geological research and ecological studies on the effects of climate change and land management practices on ecological communities and wildlife.














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Sand to Snow National Monument

Encompassing 154,000 acres, including just over 100,000 acres of already congressionally-designated Wilderness, Sand to Snow National Monument is an ecological and cultural treasure and one of the most biodiverse areas in southern California, supporting more than 240 species of birds and 12 threatened and endangered wildlife species.















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Castle Mountains National Monument

The Castle Mountains National Monument is an integral piece of the Mojave Desert with important natural resources and historic sites, including Native American archaeological sites. The 20,920-acre monument will serve as a critical connection between two mountain ranges, protecting water resources, plants, and wildlife such as golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bobcats.














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The Lake Eden Eye





The Window of the Heavens Always Open and Calling: All We Have to Do Is: To Choose to Be Open, Listen and Respond




Imagine a Rose-Boat

Imagine a rose floating like a tiny little boat on this ocean of infinity
And raise your soul-sail on this wee-little boat and go seeking out
All along feed on nothing but the light that you gather only light
Fear shall never fathom you nor greed can tempt nor illusion divert
For Love you are by name by deeds you are love's working-map



Only in the transparent pool of knowledge, chiselled out by the sharp incision of wisdom, is seen the true face of what truth is: That what  beauty paints, that what music sings, that what love makes into a magic. And it is life: a momentary magnificence, a-bloom like a bubble's miniscule exposition, against the spread of this awe-inspiring composition of the the Universe. Only through the path of seeking, learning, asking and developing, only through the vehicles and vesicles of knowledge, only through listening to the endless springs flowing beneath, outside, around and beyond our reach, of wisdom, we find the infinite ocean of love which is boundless, eternal, and being infinite, it makes us, shapes us and frees us onto the miracle of infinite liberty: without border, limitation or end. There is nothing better, larger or deeper that humanity can ever be than to simply be and do love. The Humanion


Poets' Letter Magazine Archive Poetry Pearl

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The Humanion Online Daily from the United Kingdom for the World: To Inspire Souls to Seek

At Home in the Universe : One Without Frontier. Editor: Munayem Mayenin

All copyrights @ The Humanion: London: England: United Kingdom: Contact Address: editor at thehumanion dot com

First Published: September 24: 2015