The Science and Technology Daily reported on December 3 that when referring to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), people first thought of looking at the stars and exploring the universe. In fact, it sometimes stands in the sky and overlooks the earth.
A few days ago, NASA disclosed that its “Earth Risk Grade Project” will fund five major missions in 2020, using advanced aviation technology to explore the mysteries of earth changes that affect human life and the environment, from snowstorms on the east coast of the United States to ocean eddies on the west coast.
Schematic diagram of five major missions. Image credit: NASA
Cloud Sampling Assists Blizzard Prediction
Frequent winter blizzards on the densely populated US East Coast often cause road closures and business shutdowns and seriously threaten human security. However, the cloud formation process of a blizzard is difficult to accurately measure from space, resulting in poor prediction of snowfall.
To this end, NASA will begin the “Microphysical and Precipitation Research on Threat of the Atlantic Coastal Snowstorm” from January next year. It will use “ER-2” high-altitude aircraft and “P-3” cloud sampling aircraft to fly into relevant areas to accurately study snow The distribution in the cloud layer makes up for the lack of satellite data and improves the weather forecast model.
The project’s principal researcher, Lynn McMurdy, an associate professor at the University of Washington, said that when people see large clouds of photos, they think it’s snowing everywhere, but this is not the case. There is a long and narrow snow band inside the clouds. We sought to understand why they formed and how they evolved with the development of storms to better predict the distribution of snowfall on the ground.
Air survey decodes ocean whirlpool
In climate and marine ecology, the ring-shaped current called 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. Large-scale vortices have diameters of hundreds of kilometers, while submesoscale vortices range in size from 1 km to 10 km. Current ocean monitoring satellites cannot observe them in detail.
NASA will begin the “sub-mesoscale ocean dynamics experiment” in April next year, sending aircraft such as “King of the Air”, “G Gulfstream V” and “Ocean” research vessels, carrying a series of autonomous platforms and researchers to San Francisco 200 miles off the coast measure ocean temperature, salinity, and water velocity at different time and space scales.
These whirlpools have been reported to have important long-term effects on the upper ocean, but their predictions are very sensitive to small details during the simulation. Thomas Farrell, a marine physicist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said the project could help us further improve our predictive models.
Remote Sensing Assessment of Sea Surface Rising Threats
In the United States, millions of people live on the coast of the delta. It serves as a “care center” for fish, crustaceans and other animals, and protects inland infrastructure from hurricanes and tsunamis. However, most deltas in the world are likely to disappear with rising sea levels.
NASA will launch a “Delta-X” mission to study the Mississippi River Delta in detail to understand which areas may disappear and which areas can survive. In fact, if there is enough sediment, and if the plants can take root, the increase in the delta may follow the rate of rising of the Shanghai plane. NASA scientists will use aircraft such as the “King of the Air” and “Gulfstream” to carry advanced remote sensing instruments to conduct field measurements of the current to determine where the sediment will deposit. At the same time, 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 Simad, principal researcher at Delta-X at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The field study of stratospheric ocean boundary clouds
Marine boundary layer clouds cover large areas of the earth’s oceans and play a key role in studying the earth’s energy balance and the water cycle. For example, in global warming models, cloud changes remain one of the biggest uncertainties.
NASA will begin the “Aerosol-Cloud-Meteorological Interaction Experiment on the Western Atlantic” in February next year, sending two aircrafts carrying a large number of remote sensing and measuring instruments to cooperate with each other to perform flight missions, one of which is code-named “Falcon”, The other is the “King of the Air”, and the flight area is mainly concentrated in the western North Atlantic.
“Although many field surveys have been carried out before, we have not performed comprehensive measurements under various conditions to draw clear conclusions about the climate impact of the interactions between aerosols, clouds, and meteorology.” The project’s principal investigator, Arizona University Amin Solothian said that with this research, we intend to solve this problem and provide the international scientific community with data that can be used for years and decades to come.
High-altitude exploration of the effects of atmospheric storms
During the summer, severe storms often occur in the central United States. When storms become high enough, they can exceed the troposphere and inject water vapor and pollutants into the stratosphere, significantly changing their chemical composition, and may even negatively affect stratospheric ozone.
In the summer of 2020, NASA will launch a “Summer Stratospheric Dynamics and Chemistry” project, using meteorological satellites and ground radars to measure overshooting storms and use “ER-2” high-altitude aircraft to collect measurement data. It is reported that the aircraft is sufficient to fly 70,000 feet (more than 20,000 meters), which is much higher than the flight altitude of most aircraft.
“This project is the first scientific mission dedicated to observing material that has been lifted into the stratosphere by a strong storm.” Ken Bowman, a principal researcher from Texas A & M University, said that the storm was measured directly using the “ER-2” aircraft Outflow, we can study how these storms affect today’s stratosphere and how this impact will change with changes in the atmosphere in the coming decades.