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Highlights Archive

Earth Science Division Highlights for week ending August 23, 2007

Ames Earth Science Division presentation to Alan Stern .
During his visit to NASA Ames, Aug. 16, Dr. Alan Stern, Associate Administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, and his senior staff, including Deputy AA Colleen Hartman, Yvonne Pendleton, Andrew Cheng, T. Jens Feeley and Joan Salute visited with the Earth Science Division. Division Chief Steve Hipskind along with SG staff presented a brief overview of the Division, the Airborne Science work, including a poster of the recently completed TC-4 mission, examples of instrumentation built by division PI's and engineering staff and static displays of the Sierra and APV-3 UAS. The highlight was a realtime display of the WRAP Ikhana mission, PI Vince Ambrosia, including georectified imagery over the Zaca fire outside of Santa Barbara, which was also being sent to the Zaca Incident Command Center. Steve also talked about Ames ideas for using small Earth observing satellites to address NRC Decadal Survey science questions. Both Drs. Stern and Hartman were highly engaged and asked a lot of questions. (POC: Steve Hipskind, , 4-5076)

Presentation of Global Climate Change to Boxer Staffer: 
Mr. Matthew Wells, Washington, DC based personal staffer to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), toured NASA Ames on Thursday, Aug. 16. Steve Hipskind, Earth Science Division Chief, presented an overview of NASA's Earth Science program and specifically work at NASA Ames by Drs. Rama Nemani and Chris Potter on ecological forecast modeling and regional climate change impact studies. Hipskind presented in conjunction with Rupak Biswas, Division Chief for Advanced Supercomputing, who showed visualizations of global atmosphere and ocean models being run on the Columbia supercomputer. (POC: Steve Hipskind, , 4-5076)

*WRAP activities :
The first Western States Fire Mission last week was highly successful, providing real-time data over 4 fires in California, with particular emphasis placed on the large Zaca wildfire, burning near Santa Barbara. The Zaca Incident Command used the data to redeploy resources and personnel with the fresh intelligence that the ARC-developed AMS-WILDFIRE instrument provided.

The second mission in the series is planned for launch on Thursday, Aug 23. The mission will operate over fires for up to 24 hours and extend range of operations to fires in Idaho, western Wyoming, and parts of Montana. The sensor data over those fires will be distributed in real-time to incident management teams on the fires as well as to the National Interagency Fire Center located in Boise, ID.

The data, imagery and ancillary fire information from the 2007 Western States UAS Fire Imaging Mission can be observed in real-time during the mission, or viewed as archived data, post-mission. Go to the WRAP website at and follow the instructions about accessing the Collaborative Decisions Environment (CDE) for viewing data. (POC: Vince Ambrosia, , 4-6565)

USDA / NASA Collaboration Meetings:
Twenty representatives from the USDA met with SG personnel, Aug. 14-16. The goal was to initiate near-term collaborations and define long-term plans for a joint USDA/NASA-ARC project to develop ecosystem assessment capabilities in the Western U.S. as part of the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Program. USDA agency participants included personnel from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service, and the Agriculture Research Service. SG personnel included Steve Hipskind (Chief), Ed Sheffner (Deputy Division Chief), Chris Potter, Rama Nemani, Dave Bubenheim, and Vern Vanderbilt (SGE), Lee Johnson, Seth Hiatt and Marc Kramer (CSUMB), Dave Wilson and Greg Schlick (BAER Inst.). Meetings alternated between USDA Western Region Offices in Albany, California, and NASA Ames Research Center. (POC: David Bubenheim, , 4-3209)

Jens Redemann participates in international conference :
Jens Redemann (BAER Institute) gave a presentation and chaired a session last week at the 17th International Conference on Nucleation and Atmospheric Aerosols, Aug 13-17, held in Galway, Ireland. His presentation was entitled "Full column aerosol optical depth observations in the vicinity of clouds". (POC: Jens Redemann, , 4-6259)

DEVELOP students present results of summer's work : SGE DEVELOP Students Present Posters, Seminar.
On Thursday, August 16, student interns in the ARC Summer 2007 DEVELOP Internship Program presented three posters at the Fourth Annual Student Achievement Celebration in Building 943.

One poster entitled, "Acquisition of Ground Truth Data for the Estimation of LAI in Yosemite National Park" was presented by Galli Basson (San Jose State University), Bettina Schiffman (Foothill College), Evan Lue (University of California, Santa Barbara), Dustin Ottman (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), and Anjanette Hawk (Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute). The poster described a study undertaken this summer to develop the correlation between ground based and spaced based measurements of Leaf Area Index in YNP. After two weeks of fieldwork collecting LAI data using digital photography and several hand-held instruments, the team used MODIS LAI data derived from the TOPS (Total Observation and Prediction System) model for the comparisons. The science advisors for this project were Forrest Melton and Dr. Rama Nemani, both of SGE. The partner agency for this project is the National Park Service.

A second poster with the title, "Understanding the Correlation of San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Monitoring and Aerosol Optical Thickness Satellite Measurements" was presented by Marshall Ballard ( San Jose State University ), Michelle Newcomer ( San Francisco State University ), Jacqueline Rudy ( California Polytechnic State University , SLO), Sachi Lake ( Princeton University ), and Sivakami Sambasivam (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). This team has been studying air quality in the San Joaquin Valley using data from a variety of NASA missions and by using ground based measurements of aerosols and particulates. The science advisor for this project is Dr. Tony Strawa of SGG. The partner agencies for this study include the California Air Resources Board.

A third team presented a poster entitled, "Integrating Data from NASA Missions into NOAA's Pacific Region Integrated Climatology Information Products (PRICIP) Project". Team members were Casey Teske (University of Montana, Missoula), Nicole Simons (University of Oklahoma, Norman), Frank Garcia (University of California, Santa Barbara), Joshua Ingham (University of Idaho, Moscow), and Semma Gupta (Wellesley College). The team worked produced historical tropical storm animations that show the storm variables of precipitation, sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and winds, all associated with each storm. All the variables measures used were extracted from NASA satellite data for four storms specified by NOAA. The animations will be placed on the NOAA storm web portal.

The day after the poster presentations, Friday, August 17, the three teams gave a seminar to the Earth Science and science community at ARC. Approximately 60 people attended the seminar in the Earth Science Auditorium in Building 245, including ARC's Chief Scientist Dr. Stephanie Langhoff. Co-authors on all three posters and the three seminar presentations were the ARC DEVELOP mentors Cindy Schmidt (NASA SGE/SJSU) and Dr. Jay Skiles (NASA SGE). DEVELOP is a NASA Internship Program promoting GIS and remote sensing use in community, government and tribal organizations. DEVELOP is funded through the Applied Science Program of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. (POC: Jay Skiles, Joseph.W.Skiles, 4-3614)

SGE Students Present Posters.
Students on the ARC NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team presented two posters at the Fourth Annual Student Achievement Celebration held Aug. 16 in Building 943.

Cynthia Schultz (SJSU) presented the poster, "A Survey of an Extreme Environment in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina". Co-Authors on the poster were Dr. Hector D'Antoni (NASA SGE), Seth Burgess (SJSU), Jeanette Zamora (National Hispanic University), and Dr. Jay Skiles (SGE). The study presented on the poster was an attempt to describe climatological variables thought to cause vegetation stratification at several locations in Tierra del Fuego. These variables include air and soil temperatures, soil pH, solar radiation intensity and others. Community vegetation formations can be attributed to these variables.

Amanda Smith (Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville) presented the second poster, "Using GIS to Analyze the Vegetation Index (NDVI) in South America", with co-authors Jeanette Zamora (National Hispanic University), and Drs. Hector D'Antoni and Jay Skiles (SGE). The poster presented an NDVI analysis of 122 locations in South America where fossil pollen and/or tree ring data are available that describe past climates. Smith was in the SETI Institute REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Program this summer. The SETI REU Program was funded through a grant to SETI from the National Science Foundation.

Both studies above are part of the ARC NAI Team's ongoing research, funded by the NAI (PI: Dr. David Des Marais, SSX), a component of which is "Hindcasting Past Environments", with Dr. D'Antoni as the Co-PI. Dr. Skiles is a co-investigator on this component. (POC: J. Skiles, Joseph. , 4-3614; or Hector D'Antoni, , 4-5149)

SIERRA team briefs Australian Defense representatives .
The SIERRA UAV team was invited to brief representatives from the Australian Defense Ministry, August 15. Matt Fladeland (Manager, Airborne Science Office) briefed them on the project and other related activities within Code SG. They were very interested in the payload and endurance capabilities of SIERRA and are interested in test flights with new UAS payloads they have developed. They also voiced great interest in the Western States Fire Mission that is flying the Ames Modular Sensor system on the NASA Ikhana-Predator B. Representatives from Code SG are following up with them to pursue future collaborations with their colleagues in the civilian sector. (POC: Matt Fladeland, , 4-3325)

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