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article imageNASA begins testing of greenhouse gases over eastern U.S.

By Karen Graham     Jul 7, 2016 in Environment
Hampton - NASA wants to improve on our scientists understanding of the sources of two very powerful greenhouse gases and how they interact in the atmosphere.
Understanding how two powerful greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide and methane — cycle into and out of the atmosphere will allow for improvements in the management and simulation of future climate models.
Called Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America, or ACT-America, Engadget reports the project beginning this month is a multi-year endeavor that will measure concentrations of CO2 and methane and how the gases relate to weather systems across the U.S.
Technician Jim Plant checks an instrument rack aboard the King Air B-200 at NASA s Langley Research ...
Technician Jim Plant checks an instrument rack aboard the King Air B-200 at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in preparation for the first ACT-America flights this month.
NASA/David Bowman
NASA will be using real-time measurements from instruments in the agency's C-130H and King Air B-200 aircraft as well as satellite and ground measurements as they attempt to find answers to where on the surface the gases are originating and where they are absorbed.
The information NASA expects to collect will really fill in the blanks on how gases are moved by weather systems, helping scientists to understand and interpret long-term greenhouse gas data more accurately.
Until recently, finding the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases has relied on a sparse network of long-term, ground-based tower observation posts.
Then came space-based measurements with the launch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Greenhouse gases Observing Satellite in 2009 and NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory–2 (OCO-2) in 2014.
NASA s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2 spacecraft is moved into a thermal vacuum chamber at Orbi...
NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2 spacecraft is moved into a thermal vacuum chamber at Orbital Sciences Corporation's Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Gilbert, Ariz., for a series of environmental tests
NASA
These satellites cover more of the Earth's surface and have sent back useful data on greenhouse gases worldwide, but because they are continually orbiting the planet, they can't see through clouds or sample gases from one location continuously.
Michael Freilich, the director of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters, Washington says, “The ability of the ACT-America campaign to help bridge the spatial scales between satellite and ground observations, as well as to look in detail about how weather patterns contribute to changes in the distributions of carbon dioxide and methane makes it a unique addition to the global effort to understand the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases."
The Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America  or ACT-America  campaign will study the atmosphere o...
The Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America, or ACT-America, campaign will study the atmosphere over three areas of the eastern United States this summer with flights originating from Virginia, Nebraska and Louisiana.
NASA
The ACT-America flights will be based at three locations in the eastern U.S. The first flights will be based out of NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, and the Wallops Flight Facility, on Wallops Island, Virginia. Later flight will come out of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Shreveport, Louisiana.
This summer's flights are just the first of five field campaigns planned during the study, each one lasting six weeks, says NASA.
More about NASA, actamerica, Greenhouse gases, Satellites, Carbon dioxide
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