No matter where you are located on this globe, we all have one thing in common – we all call planet Earth our home!
Earth provides humanity with everything we need to survive. Earth Day is a time to acknowledge what we can do to help our planet. With more than a billion people participating every year, Earth Day is the largest secular observation in the world. Let’s look at three ways NASA is impacting the Earth.
1.) Global Ecosystems Dynamic Investigation (GEDI): GEDI provides a unique 3D view of Earth’s forests, helping to fill in missing information about their role in the carbon cycle. The primary purpose of GEDI is to produce high-resolution laser-ranging observations of Earth in order to characterize the effects of climate change and land use on ecosystems’ structure and dynamics. GEDI beams down laser pulses into tree canopies to reveal more about our environment and how it is changing.
Figure 1: GEDI’s view of a forest appears as a collection of waveforms that show the treetops, the ground, and the branches, leaves, and open space in between. Put together, collections of waveforms begin to show the forest’s structure — not only vertically, but horizontally as well. This shot of the Amazon rainforest shows the canopy height and the structure underneath. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory / Lauren Dauphin
2.) ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS): ECOSTRESS monitors the loss of water through tiny pores in the leaves of living plants. The experiment measures combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration. The study uses high-resolution thermal infrared radiometer, which works like a giant thermometer from space, to measure the temperature of plants and the amount of heat radiating from Earth’s surface.
This temperature map shows the stressed and dry vegetation surrounding the Apple fire in Southern California on Aug. 1, 2020. The observation was made possible by NASA’s Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) which measured the temperature of the burn area and tracked the dark smoke plume drifting east from California to Arizona. Credits: NASA
3.) Ocean’s Melting Greenland (OMG): The OMG mission is paving the way for improved estimates of sea-level rise by addressing the question: to what extent are the oceans melting Greenland’s ice from below? The OMG campaign examined the temperatures and other properties of North Atlantic waters along the coast, while also taking measurements of the glaciers that reach the ocean. The study examines why the Tracy and Heilprin glaciers, which flow side by side, are melting at different rates. The study documents a plume of warm water flowing up Tracy’s underwater face and a much colder plume in front of Heilprin.
Left: Greenland topography color-coded from 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) below sea level (dark blue) to 4,900 feet above (brown). Right: Regions below sea level connected to the ocean; darker colors are deeper. The thin white line shows the current extent of the ice sheet.
Earth Day is an opportunity for everyone from around the globe to come together. As a NASA intern, you set the example for other students around the globe. This Earth Day let’s make an impact. Tag us @NASAINTERNS and show us how you are making a difference this Earth Day!
Written by: Waryn Flavell