[ESIP-all] Fwd: NASA Slated To Receive Billions To Study Earth (fwd)

Lenhardt, W. Christopher lenhardtc at ornl.gov
Mon Apr 5 12:34:15 EDT 2010

FYI, in case you haven't already heard about this via other channels.



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Chen <bchen at ciesin.columbia.edu<mailto:bchen at ciesin.columbia.edu>>
Date: April 5, 2010 12:14:03 PM EDT
To: "datacenters at eos.nasa.gov<mailto:datacenters at eos.nasa.gov>" <datacenters at eos.nasa.gov<mailto:datacenters at eos.nasa.gov>>
Subject: NASA Slated To Receive Billions To Study Earth (fwd)

This was on NPR this morning! Cheers, BOb

Dr. Robert S. Chen
Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network
 (CIESIN), The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Manager, NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC)
Secretary General, CODATA, Committee on Data for Science and Technology,
 International Council for Science (ICSU)
P.O. Box 1000, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964 USA
tel. +1 845-365-8952; fax +1 845-365-8922
e-mail: bchen at ciesin.columbia.edu<mailto:bchen at ciesin.columbia.edu>
CIESIN web site: http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu
SEDAC web site: http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu
CODATA web site: http://www.codata.org


NASA Slated To Receive Billions To Study Earth
by Jon Hamilton
NPR - April 5, 2010

NASA, the agency known for exploring space, will be spending a lot
more time studying Earth in the next few years.

The Obama administration has proposed a budget for NASA that includes
billions of dollars for satellites and other tools to help scientists
investigate Earth-bound problems, especially climate change.

That represents a major turnaround for NASA's Earth Science Division,
which had been allowed to languish during much of the 1990s.

Back then, the division had so little money it wasn't able to replace
aging satellites that monitor things such as polar ice, coastal
wetlands, ocean temperatures and chemicals in the atmosphere.

New Administration, New Priorities

But things have changed dramatically since the arrival of the Obama
administration, says Edward Weiler, associate administrator of NASA's
Science Mission Directorate.

"This administration has a clear priority for science in general and
Earth science in specific," he says.

And now the White House has unveiled plans to give NASA's Earth
science programs $2.4 billion in new money over the next five years.
That's an increase of more than 60 percent.

Much of the new money will be spent trying to reinvigorate efforts to
determine how fast the Earth's climate is changing, Weiler says.

"We've got to measure how fast the ice is being depleted, how fast
carbon dioxide is being added to the atmosphere as opposed to being
taken out of it," he says.

Unlocking Atmospheric Mysteries

Scientists think carbon dioxide from sources like cars and power
plants is the most important contributor to global warming. But they
still don't know much about what happens to carbon dioxide once it
gets into the atmosphere, says Michael Freilich, director of NASA's
Earth Science Division.

"In order to figure out where it's going, how it's being exchanged
between the atmosphere and the ocean, and the atmosphere and the land,
you have to make a whole variety of measurements," Freilich says.

The extra funding will help scientists get those measurements. One
chunk is paying for a new Orbiting Carbon Observatory to replace the
original, which crashed into the ocean last year just after it was

Amazing GRACE

The new funding will also allow NASA to replace twin satellites called
GRACE that have been making detailed measurements of the Earth's
gravity field since 2002.

That may sound like something only science wonks would care about. But
GRACE has proved to have many more practical applications than anyone
expected, Weiler says.

For example, he says, GRACE has been used to collect data on
gravitational fields to measure the amount of ground water in
California's San Joaquin Valley, an important agricultural resource.
And the measurements are showing that "ground water is disappearing
more quickly than it's being replenished," Weiler says.

Scientists say global warming may be contributing to this loss of
water by changing rainfall patterns in the western U.S.

The proposed NASA budget still needs approval from Congress. But NASA
officials say lawmakers seem to like the space agency's new focus on
the Earth.

Copyright 2010 National Public Radio

W. Christopher Lenhardt
Environmental Sciences Division
865 574 6332 (O)
865 241 4056 (F)

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