The Latest On Super Typhoon Neoguri

July 7th, 2014 at 8:54 am by under Weather

Courtesy of Wunderground.com. Visit for the very latest updates on Super Typhoon Neoguri.

Okinawa is a small, isolated island to the southwest of the southern tip of the Japanese mainland.  Because of its’ small size and the fact it is surrounded by water, Okinawa is a vulnerable target for strong storms.   What is now Super Typhoon Neoguri is churning through the Western Pacific Ocean and at latest check has sustained winds of 150mph (just 2mph shy of what would be considered a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic).  Even though current forecasts have it weakening slightly before it gets there, the storm is forecast to brush close to the island and could potentially cause catastrophic damage.  Neoguri could be the most powerful storm to hit the small island in 15 years.

Here is the latest discussion (scientific) on the Super Typhoon:

6 hour summary and analysis.
   Super Typhoon (STY) 08w (neoguri), located approximately 295 nm 
south of Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan, has tracked northwestward at 15 
knots over the past six hours. A 070600z SSMI microwave image 
reveals sty neoguri is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. 
Additionally, animated multispectral satellite imagery (msi) depicts 
a nearly annular eyewall has continued to expand under the influence 
of a very favorable environment. The current position is based on 
the msi animation and the microwave image with high confidence. The 
initial intensity of 135 knots is based on the current structure and 
assessment from Dvorak current intensity estimates from all 
reporting agencies. Upper-level analysis indicates the system is 
located in an area of low (05 to 10 knot) vertical wind shear and 
robust radial outflow, as evident in the water vapor imagery. Sty 
08w continues to track along the southwest extension of a deep-
layered subtropical ridge (str) to the north.
3. Forecast reasoning.
   A. There is no change to the forecast philosophy since the 
previous prognostic reasoning message.
   B. Sty 08w will continue to track northwestward over the next 12 
hours before turning northward as the str recedes with the approach 
of a mid-latitude trough from the northwest. By tau 24, sty neoguri 
will crest the ridge and recurve northeastward as a secondary trough 
further weakens the steering str. Due to very favorable 
environmental conditions, further intensification is expected over 
the next 24 hours with a peak of 145 knots. Beyond tau 36, cooling 
sea surface temperatures (sst), increasing vws ahead of the mid-
latitude westerlies, and landfall into Kyushu, Japan, will slowly 
erode the system.
   C. After tau 72, sty neoguri will commence extra-tropical 
transition and accelerate northeastward into the cold baroclinic 
zone. The increased mid-latitude interaction, decreasing SST, and 
land interaction will cause its rapid deterioration for the 
remainder of the forecast period. The available dynamic model 
guidance remains in tight agreement, lending high confidence to the 
jtwc track forecast which is positioned close to the multi-model 
consensus.


Storm Track Statistics

Date Time Lat Lon Wind (mph) Pressure Storm Type
Jul 03 00 GMT 8.9 146.8 30 -999 Tropical Depression
Jul 03 06 GMT 9.7 144.7 35 -999 Tropical Depression
Jul 03 12 GMT 10.8 143.9 35 -999 Tropical Depression
Jul 03 18 GMT 11.5 143.3 40 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 00 GMT 12.5 142.2 50 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 06 GMT 13.1 141.4 65 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 12 GMT 13.7 140.4 70 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 18 GMT 14.6 139.1 75 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 00 GMT 15.3 138.2 105 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 06 GMT 16.0 137.0 135 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 12 GMT 16.7 135.8 135 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 18 GMT 17.4 134.5 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 00 GMT 18.0 132.9 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 06 GMT 18.5 131.4 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 12 GMT 18.9 130.3 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 18 GMT 19.7 129.1 150 -999 Super Typhoon
Jul 07 00 GMT 20.4 128.2 155 -999 Super Typhoon
Jul 07 06 GMT 21.6 127.3 155 -999 Super Typhoon

 

Latest sustained winds from STY Neogury: 155mph.

Here are details from the Saffir-Simpson scale.   The storm’s category, and associated winds are compared to the damage that occurs during storms of this strength.

4
(major)
130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h

 

 

 

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
5
(major)
157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Forecast map for Super Typhoon Neoguri courtesy of wunderground.com.

 


Massive dust storm overtakes Phoenix

July 5th, 2014 at 9:25 am by under Weather

Courtesy: Phoenix National Weather Service Office

July 3 2014: Dust Storm across the Phoenix area
Widespread gusty winds and blowing dustUpdated: 8 pm MST 4 July 2014

Dust Storm

Dust storm as seen from NWS Phoenix office. Credit: Charlotte Dewey

The first major event of the 2014 Monsoon took place during the afternoon and evening hours of 3 July 2014. Following a gradual increase in moisture across the region, storms developed in the mountains north/east/south of the Phoenix metro area around mid afternoon. Most of the storms dissipated as they descended from the mountains (due to a marginally stable layer of air over the deserts in the lowest 10000ft of the atmosphere), but two outflow boundaries pushed out into the lower deserts. The first boundary originated from Payson to Globe and brought isolated blowing dust and ~30mph winds to Gold Canyon and Apache Junction. The second, stronger boundary, originated in southern Pinal County and was responsble for the dust storm to affect the Phoenix area. There were numerous reports of near zero visibility within the dust storm along with winds around 50 mph.

 

Click each image for a larger version 

KIWA Radar 0116Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 615 PM MST. Note the appearance of a large outflow boundary stretching from north of Fountain Hills to Florence, with a secondary boundary near Casa Grande and Eloy. The boundaries originated from separate clusters of thunderstorms, but were both traveling toward the Phoenix metro area.
KIWA Radar 0200Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 700 PM MST. Outflow winds had moved through portions of the East Valley as well as Scottsdale and Fountain Hills by 7pm, however visibilities remained around 10 miles or greater. Meanwhile the boundary to the south was becoming more evident on radar. Note the area of strong winds indicated around 40+ kts southwest of Queen Creek. These winds were located around 3000ft above the surface.
KIWA Radar 0233Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 730 PM MST. At this point the leading edge of the wall of dust stretched from Apache Junction to Chandler and Ahwatukee. The observation at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport from 722pm MST indicated visibilities had dropped to ZERO, along with sustained winds around 30 mph/gusts to 50 mph.
KIWA Radar 0300Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 800 PM MST. By 8pm, the dust storm was located over downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport. The dust had also moved into Scottsdale. Sky Harbor reported visibilities around 1 mile along with a gust to 56 mph.
KIWA Velocity loop Loop of Base Velocity images from 6pm – 9pm MST showing the progression of the dust storm through the Phoenix metro area. Note: Animated GIF is ~11mb.
KIWA Reflectivity loop Loop of Base Reflectivity images from 6pm – 9pm MST showing the progression of the dust storm through the Phoenix metro area. Showers and thunderstorms developed over the west valley as the dust storm collided with a southbound outflow boundary stretching from Cave Creek to Surprise. Note: Animated GIF is ~13mb.

While they do not occur every day, dust storms are fairly common across the lower deserts during the Monsoon. Nonetheless, they do make for an impressive display especially around sunset. Below are selected images from around the Phoenix area Thursday evening.

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Kaxan’s Fourth of July pet safety tips

July 4th, 2014 at 3:32 pm by under Weather

Kaxan 4th of july outfitkaxan 4th of july safety

For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:

  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
  • Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
  • Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
  • Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
  • Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
  • Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
  • Courtesy ASPCA
  • Texas Humane Legislation Network

Hurricane Arthur steals NOAA buoy

July 3rd, 2014 at 5:54 pm by under Weather


June inflows to Highland Lakes highest in four years

July 3rd, 2014 at 5:46 pm by under Weather

Severe drought continues as summer heat returns

View the May 2014 drought update
View the July 2014
drought update

Rain sent more water into the Highland Lakes last month than in the previous three Junes combined, but was still far short of what’s needed to break the severe drought across the lower Colorado River basin.

June inflows (the amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes from rivers and streams) were almost 24,000 acre-feet. That is only about 15 percent of the historical June average.

A June 12 rain increased the combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan by about 14,000 acre-feet. That storm came on the heels of widespread Memorial Day weekend rain that raised levels in Lake Travis by about 4.5 feet and in Lake Buchanan by about 3.3 feet, and added about 80,000 acre-feet to the combined storage of the two lakes.

Inflows in June were the highest for any June since 2010, which had 33,517 acre-feet, and were the second-highest June totals since 719,000 acre-feet of inflows in 2007, when the Marble Falls “rain bomb” dumped 19 inches of rain in one night. The runoff from that storm continued into July and totaled about 1 million acre-feet.

The heavy rains and resulting inflows since May were welcome; however, lakes Travis and Buchanan on July 2 were still only at 39 percent of capacity as the region heads into what is forecast to be a hot and dry rest of the summer. Recent inflows, though modest, have delayed the projected earliest possible declaration of a Drought Worse Than the Drought of Record (DWDR) until early fall.

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NASA successfully launches Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2

July 2nd, 2014 at 1:11 pm by under Weather

(Space.com)

NASA has launched its first spacecraft devoted to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas thought to be responsible for much of Earth’s recent warming trend.

The space agency’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite (OCO-2) blasted off today (July 2) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:56 a.m. EDT (0956 GMT, 2:56 a.m. local time), carried aloft by a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The liftoff was originally scheduled for Tuesday (July 1), but a problem with the launch pad’s water system caused a one-day delay.

The satellite will measure carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere 24 times every second, revealing in great detail where the gas is being produced and where it is being pulled out of the air — CO2 sources and sinks, in scientists’ parlance. [NASA's OCO-2 Mission in Pictures (Gallery)]

OCO-2 satellite launch
NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 on July 2, 2014 to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
OCO-2 separation in sunlight
NASA’s OCO-2 spacecraft separating from the rocket that brought it to orbit.
Credit: NASA TV

“With the launch of this spacecraft, decision-makers and scientists will get a much better idea of the role of carbon dioxide in climate change, as OCO-2 measures this greenhouse gas globally and provides incredibly new insights into where and how carbon dioxide is moving into, and then out of, the atmosphere,” Betsy Edwards, OCO-2 program executive at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., told reporters during a pre-launch press briefing Sunday (June 30).

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen from about 280 parts per million (ppm) before the Industrial Revolution to 400 ppm today, the highest concentration in at least 800,000 years.

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NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Launch Rescheduled for July 2

July 1st, 2014 at 8:41 pm by under Weather

Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 on the Pad

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, awaits launch at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. Image credit: NASA / Randy Beaudoin / Vandenberg Air Force Base
› Larger image

July 01, 2014

The launch of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, July 2 at 2:56 a.m. PDT (5:56 a.m. EDT) from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The launch team has completed troubleshooting of the launch pad water suppression system that resulted in the scrub of the launch attempt Tuesday. A valve that is part of the pulse suppression water system, which had operated properly during tests shortly before the launch countdown, failed to function properly during the final minutes of the launch attempt. The failed valve has been replaced with a spare, and the system is being tested in preparation for Wednesday’s launch attempt.

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Tropical Depression One forms off the FL coast

June 30th, 2014 at 10:25 pm by under Weather

td 1

BULLETIN
TROPICAL DEPRESSION ONE ADVISORY NUMBER   1
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL       AL012014
1100 PM EDT MON JUN 30 2014

...TROPICAL DEPRESSIONS FORMS EAST OF FLORIDA...
...TROPICAL STORM WATCH ISSUED FOR THE COAST OF EAST-CENTRAL
FLORIDA...

SUMMARY OF 1100 PM EDT...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...27.6N 79.1W
ABOUT 105 MI...170 KM ESE OF CAPE CANAVERAL FLORIDA
ABOUT 210 MI...335 KM NNW OF THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...SW OR 225 DEGREES AT 2 MPH...4 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1009 MB...29.80 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE EAST COAST OF
FLORIDA FROM FORT PIERCE NORTHWARD TO JUST SOUTH OF FLAGLER BEACH.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* EAST COAST OF FLORIDA FROM FORT PIERCE TO FLAGLER BEACH

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...IN THIS CASE WITHIN 24 TO 36 HOURS.

INTERESTS ELSEWHERE ALONG THE SOUTHEAST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES
SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR
LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 1100 PM EDT...0300 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION ONE
WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 27.6 NORTH...LONGITUDE 79.1 WEST. THE
DEPRESSION IS MOVING TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST NEAR 2 MPH...4 KM/H. A
SLOW WEST TO WEST-NORTHWEST MOTION IS FORECAST TO BEGIN BY TUESDAY
MORNING. A TURN TOWARD THE NORTHWEST THEN NORTH IS FORECAST BY
WEDNESDAY.  ON THE FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF THE DEPRESSION IS
EXPECTED TO REMAIN OFFSHORE AND MOVE EAST OF THE EAST-CENTRAL COAST
OF FLORIDA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO.  THE SYSTEM IS FORECAST TO
PASS EAST OF NORTHEASTERN FLORIDA ON WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 35 MPH...55 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  GRADUAL STRENGTHENING IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT
48 HOURS...AND THE DEPRESSION IS FORECAST TO BECOME A TROPICAL
STORM ON TUESDAY.

THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1009 MB...29.80 INCHES.

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH
AREA BY LATE TUESDAY.

RAINFALL...THE DEPRESSION IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL
ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 3 INCHES...MAINLY ACROSS EAST-CENTRAL FLORIDA
AND NORTHEASTERN PORTIONS OF THE FLORIDA PENINSULA WITH POSSIBLE
ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 5 INCHES THROUGH WEDNESDAY.  RAINFALL
AMOUNTS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 6 INCHES
IS POSSIBLE OVER PORTIONS OF THE NORTHERN BAHAMAS THROUGH WEDNESDAY.

NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...200 AM EDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...500 AM EDT.

$$
FORECASTER BROWN

 


Average ‘dead zone’ expected in the Gulf

June 29th, 2014 at 7:51 pm by under Weather

NOAA, partners predict an average ‘dead zone’ for Gulf of Mexico; slightly above-average hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay

Scientists are expecting an average, but still large, hypoxic or “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this year, and slightly above-average hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay .

NOAA-supported modeling is forecasting this year’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone to cover an area ranging from about 4,633 to 5,708 square miles (12,000 to 14,785 square kilometers) or about the size of the state of Connecticut.

While close to averages since the late 1990s, these hypoxic zones are many times larger than what research has shown them to be prior to the significant human influences that greatly expanded their sizes and effects.

Hypoxic zones are areas in the ocean of such low oxygen concentration that animal life suffocates and dies, and as a result are sometimes called “dead zones.” One of the largest dead zones forms in the Gulf of Mexico every spring. Each spring as farmers fertilize their lands preparing for crop season, rain washes fertilizer off the land and into streams and rivers.

Hypoxia Watch data was also acquired by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) aboard the R/V BLAZING 7 during the period from July 8-12, 2013. The LDWF stations provided additional insight into the distribution of bottom dissolved oxygen in the area from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Louisiana Bight.  (Courtesy: NOAA)

Hypoxia Watch data was also acquired by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) aboard the R/V BLAZING 7 during the period from July 8-12, 2013. The LDWF stations provided additional insight into the distribution of bottom dissolved oxygen in the area from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Louisiana Bight.
(Courtesy: NOAA)

The Gulf of Mexico prediction is based on models developed by NOAA-sponsored modeling teams and individual researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, and the U.S. Geological Survey, and relies on nutrient loading estimates from the USGS. The models also account for the influence of variable weather and oceanographic conditions, and predict that these can affect the dead zone area by as much as 38 percent.

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NASA preps climate change satellite for launch

June 29th, 2014 at 4:37 am by under Weather

(NASA)

NASA to Launch Carbon Observatory

June 24, 2014:  In the lexicon of climate change, one word appears more often than any other: “carbon.” Carbon credits, carbon emissions, carbon sequestration…. These terms are on everyone’s lips.

The reason is carbon dioxide (CO2).

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CO2 is the most important driver of global warming. At approximately 400 parts per million, atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least the past 800,000 years. The burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are currently adding nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year, producing an unprecedented buildup.

NASA is about to launch a spacecraft to keep track of this greenhouse gas. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 is in final preparations for a July 1st launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

splash
A new ScienceCast video explores the goals and underlying technology of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory.  Play it

Also known as “OCO-2″, the polar orbiting satellite will provide a global picture of human and natural sources of carbon dioxide.  Data from OCO-2 will also be used to quantify carbon dioxide “sinks”—that is, places in the ocean and land which naturally pull carbon dioxide out of Earth’s atmosphere for storage.

“Knowing what parts of Earth are helping remove carbon from our atmosphere will help us understand whether they can keep doing so in the future,” says Michael Gunson, OCO-2 project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Auroras Underfoot (signup)

Although the mission is named OCO two, it is actually NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The original OCO spacecraft, launched from Vandenberg more than five years ago, never reached orbit because of a separation anomaly in the launch vehicle. OCO-2 is NASA’s second attempt.

It’s coming just in time. Greenhouse gases like CO2 trap the sun’s heat within Earth’s atmosphere. By maintaining habitable temperatures, the greenhouse effect is essential to life on Earth. However, increasing CO2 levels may have given our planet too much of a good thing.

Most scientists agree that increased carbon dioxide from human activities, particularly fossil fuel burning and deforestation, has thrown Earth’s natural carbon cycle off balance.  Global surface temperatures are increasing and changing our planet’s climate.

image
A blanket around Earth: Learn more about the greenhouse effect

Currently, less than half the carbon dioxide emitted into Earth’s atmosphere by human activities stays there. Some of the extra CO2 is absorbed by Earth’s oceans.  Natural land sinks take up the rest, but the amounts of CO2 taken up at various locations on the Earth’s surface are not well understood. OCO-2 scientists hope to coax these sinks out of hiding.

“Quantifying these sinks now will help us predict how fast CO2 will build up in the future,” adds Gunson. “Data from this mission will improve the accuracy of global climate change predictions.”

OCO-2 detects carbon dioxide using three onboard spectrometers.  These devices work by spreading sunlight into its constituent colors.  CO2 reveals itself by absorbing certain colors as sunlight crosses through the atmosphere.  In this way the new spacecraft will dramatically increase the number of observations of carbon dioxide, collecting hundreds of thousands of measurements each day when the satellite flies over Earth’s sunlit hemisphere.

OCO-2 measurements will be combined with data from ground stations, aircraft and other satellites to help answer key questions about carbon dioxide and climate change.

The director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich, sums it up: “With the OCO-2 mission, NASA will be making an important new contribution to the scientific challenge of better understanding our Earth and its future.”