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CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
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Earth Science Division Highlights for April 2013

Presentation at European Geophysical Union General Assembly on earth science research at Ames

Dr. Yohei Shinozuka (BAER Institute/NASA Ames) will present a paper, “Direct aerosol radiative forcing based on combined A-Train observations – challenges in deriving all-sky estimates,” at the EGU General Assembly meeting in Austria next week. The paper, by Jens Redemann (NASA Ames (SGG)), Shinozuka et al., is in response to considerable interest among the EGU members in Redemann's retrieval technique and is intended to expose European collaborators to the potential of multi-sensor satellite studies, which can only be achieved using NASA sensors. Dr. Redemann was scheduled to deliver the paper, and, on this trip, to discuss an Earth Venture proposal he is leading with collaborators from the UK Meteorological Office, but the recently imposed restrictions on foreign travel by NASA employees precluded Redemann from attending the conference and the proposal meeting.

Airborne mission managed by NASA Ames receives broad press coverage

The NASA UAS-based mission to sample the gas plume from the Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica continues to receive broad press coverage. NASA News featured a report on the mission, led by Dr. David Pieri (JPL) and managed by personnel in the earth science division at NASA Ames, on April 1, 2013 (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/earthmonth/volcanic-plume-uavs.html) , and similar reports appeared in the on-line editions of Popular Science (http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-04/nasa-launches-three-military-drones-active-volcano) the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-nasa-volcano-drones-20130402,0,5770711.story) and the Sidney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/world/a-drones-eye-look-at-a-volcano-20130403-2h6yz.html) among others.

Alpha Jet observations reported on at OCO science team meeting

Dr. Laura Iraci (NASA Ames (SGG)) showed profiles of carbon dioxide and ozone obtained from the Picarro instrument on the Alpha Jet to project scientists at the OCO science team meeting in Pasadena last week. The group recognized the value of the data but expressed concern that the observations did not extend above 27,000’. [As part of a funded ROSES proposal for OCO science (PI – Laura Iraci) Ames will modify the Picarro instrument to record CO2 up to the ceiling of the Alpha Jet, about 50,000’.]

Site visit planned for next deployment of ATTREX mission

Dr. Eric Jensen (NASA Ames (SGG) and PI for ATTREX), David Jordan (NASA Ames (SGG)) and Don Sullivan (NASA Ames (SGE)) will travel to Guam next week to evaluate that site for the summer 2013 deployment for the ATTREX Earth Venture mission.

MIZOPEX mission preparations proceeding

Randy Berthold (SGE), the Mission Manager for the Marginal Ice Zone Observations and Processes EXperiment (MIZOPEX) Project, reported success in securing adequate housing at Oliktok Point for the MIZOPEX team to support deployment of the ARC SIERRA UAS this summer. With housing in place, preparations for the deployment are proceeding on schedule.

Site visit to Guam to support next deployment of the ATTREX mission completed successfully.

Representatives of the ATTREX project from Ames and Dryden were in Guam the week of April 7th for a site visit. The project presented its requirements for operations at Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) to the Reception Working Group/Logistics Readiness Squadron (RWG/LRS). The presentation was well received and useful contacts were established with AAFB subject matter experts. The ATTREX project wants to conduct its Guam winter deployment in January and February 2014. The Cope North multinational military exercise typically occurs in February and may cause a conflict with ATTREX over hanger space. Concurrent flight operations are not a problem. The RWG/LRS is working to see if and how the two operations could be conducted simultaneously. The site visit also included visiting the local NOAA weather office and Guam Department of Education and establishing contacts with the companies that would supply science instrument consumables (gases and LN2), office/lab trailers (there is insufficient office/lab space available at AAFB), internet service providers and hotels for lodging.

Latest data collection from the Alpha Jet supports intrusion of stratospheric ozone into the troposphere.

Earth science staff at Ames in partnership with H211 completed the 88th science flight of the Alpha Jet on April 16. The flight measured ozone from the ground to 28,000 ft above sea level along an east/west transect of California from Castle Air Force Base northwest of Merced to a point approximately 50 miles off the coast near Pescadero. The data showed very high concentrations of ozone (up to 260 ppb) in both locations at altitude. Concentrations near the ground were around 60 ppb.The very high concentrations were an indicator of a stratospheric intrusion of ozone into the troposphere.The intrusion could increase concentrations of ozone at high elevation ground stations in southern California and the mountainous western States above the maximum air quality standard which requires the 8-hour ozone average to be less than or equal to 75 ppbv (set by the EPA). Such intrusions could explain why certain ground stations show non-compliance with air quality standards without a known local source.

Transfer of AMS instrument from NASA to USFS featured in NASA News

A NASA press release, dated April 11, 2013, described the work at Ames Research Center to transfer the AMS instrument to USFS control. The instrument will improve significantly the ability of the Forest Service to monitor and respond to wildfires. The instrument will be flown on a USFS Cessna Citation. NASA and other scientists will be able to schedule data acquisition form the instrument when it is not required for wildfire work. See: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/apr/HQ_13-101_AMS_Transfer_USFS.html

Ames hosts meeting of the TFRSAC and the AMS use workshop

NASA Ames hosted two meetings this week related to the integration of NASA technology into the operational procedures of agencies responsible for predicting, monitoring and responding to wildfire. On April 17, the Tactical Fire Remote Sensing Advisory Committee (TFRAC) met in building 152. It was the 19th meeting of the group in the last 10 years. Members of the TFRSAC include NASA, USFS, CalFire, Bureau of Land Management and other local, state and federal agencies responsible for wildfire policy and response. The TFRSAC heard updates on wildfire research and applications. Staff from Ames provided an update from NASA on personnel, missions, funding opportunities and news items related to wildfire from the agency. Ames also provided the SIERRA and Dragon Eye UAVs for inspection.

On Thursday, April 18, Ames hosted a workshop on the Autonomous Modular Sensor (AMS), an infrared imaging system built at Ames and now transferred to the US Forest Service for operational use. The Forest Service flew in the Cessna Citation aircraft that is the new platform for the AMS instrument. The aircraft and the instrument pod were on display for the workshop participants. Transfer of the AMS to the USFS is a major milestone for NASA Applied Sciences Program as it marks the conclusion of one of the most successful applications projects for the program.

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