NASA’s Earth Observatory brings you a new view of Earth from above every single day. Many of these images are more than just pretty pictures; scientists use satellite-based information to figure out how the planet works and to better understand how and why it is changing on a global scale. But to get a full picture, the view from space isn’t enough. You also need granular observations that can only be gathered from the ground. And that’s the job of many NASA researchers who embark on expeditions each year, traversing land, air, ice, and sea.
NASA has a long history of field campaigns large and small. But 2016 is a particularly busy year as eight major new campaigns get under way. If you like acronyms, you’ll love this list:
- Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)
- Korea U.S.-Air Quality (KORUS-AQ)
- North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES)
- Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE)
- COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL)
- Atmospheric Tomography (ATom)
- Atmospheric Carbon and Transport – America (ACT-America)
- Observations of Clouds above Aerosols and their Interactions (ORACLES)
Watch the video below for an armchair tour and brief explanation of each campaign.
So what on Earth is OMG? Scientists are now in the field to help get to the bottom of sea level rise. Namely, how much is ocean warming contributing to ice loss from below, where glaciers meet the water? Data collected during flights around the island’s perimeter will help find out. Read more about the OMG campaign here, and follow writers in the field with each campaign here.
Also currently under way is the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE). This campaign covers 2.5 million square miles of tundra, mountains, permafrost, lakes, and forests in Alaska and Northwestern Canada. Scientists use satellites and aircraft study this formidable terrain as it changes in a warming climate. But remote sensing by itself is not enough to understand the whole picture, so teams of researchers are on location to gather more data. Follow their journey here, as told directly by scientists in the field.
Stay tuned as the rest of the campaigns ramp up. It’s been an icy adventure so far. But later this year, scientists with CORAL will assess the condition of threatened coral-based ecosystems in Hawaii, and scientists with KORUS-AQ will study air quality in South Korea. If you want to learn more about those campaigns now, take a look at the story we published about CORAL or the story we did about KORUS-AQ in March.