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 Earth Science
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Earth scientists conduct basic research employing end-to-end expertise in observations from multiple vantage points along with theoretical modeling to characterize and understand the atmosphere, land, cryosphere and oceans on our home planet, with an overarching goal of improving predictions of future changes. Specific research is focused on:

  • natural and human effects on stratospheric ozone, both globally and the enhanced loss in the winter polar regions
  • the ocean circulation and its interaction with the atmosphere and ice
  • the evolution of the Greenland and Antarctic icesheets, as well as glaciers and icecaps
  • processes affecting air quality
  • the Earth's water cycle, including water vapor isotopes, cirrus cloud formation, and soil moisture
  • the behavior of the 'solid' earth, including earthquake fault systems, the processes and impact of volcanic eruptions, and the composition of the Earth's surfaces
  • tropospheric ozone and improving our understanding of processes affecting air quality
  • current levels of atmospheric aerosols and their properties to improve our understanding of tropospheric pollution
  • the spectroscopic properties of molecules, and their fundamental chemical reactions, to aid in interpretation of measurements and model development
  • thermal emissions from the Earth's surface, including fires
  • the Earth's carbon cycle in its land, atmospheric and oceanic aspects

Our scientists work on a variety of current satellite and aircraft missions and instruments, including:

  • Aqua AIRS - Atmospheric Infrared Sounder
  • Aquarius - ocean surface salinity
  • Aura MLS - Microwave Limb Sounder
  • Aura TES - Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer
  • CARVE - Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment
  • CloudSat - vertical structure of clouds
  • GRACE - Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment
  • OSTM/JASON - Ocean Surface Topography Mission
  • QuikSCAT - ocean vector winds
  • Terra ASTER - Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer
  • Terra MISR - Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer

Upcoming Missions:

  • OCO-2 - Orbiting Carbon Observatory (2014 launch)
  • SMAP - soil moisture and freeze thaw (2014 launch)
  • NI-SAR - NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, formerly DESDynI
  • RapidSCAT - ocean vector winds
  • SWOT - Surface Water and Ocean Topography (2019 launch)
  • GRACE-FO - GRACE Follow On (2017 launch)

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