How does NASA monitor greenhouse gases?
NASA uses a variety of methods to monitor greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including:
- Satellite observations: NASA satellites carry instruments that measure the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These instruments work by detecting the unique absorption spectra of greenhouse gases.
- Airborne campaigns: NASA also conducts airborne campaigns to collect data on greenhouse gases. These campaigns use aircraft to carry instruments that measure greenhouse gas concentrations at different altitudes.
- Ground-based monitoring: NASA also supports ground-based monitoring of greenhouse gases. This monitoring is conducted by a network of stations around the world that measure greenhouse gas concentrations in the air.
NASA uses the data collected from these different sources to track changes in greenhouse gas concentrations over time and to identify the sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are some specific examples of NASA missions that monitor greenhouse gases:
- The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on the Aqua satellite: AIRS measures the concentrations of a variety of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
- The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite: OCO-2 measures the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with unprecedented precision.
- The Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer-Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) instrument: AVIRIS-NG is an airborne instrument that can measure the concentrations of a wide range of gases, including greenhouse gases.
- The Global Airborne Observatory (GAO) aircraft: The GAO is a NASA aircraft that is equipped with a variety of instruments to study the atmosphere, including instruments to measure greenhouse gases.
The data collected from these missions is used by scientists to study climate change and to develop strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Why is it important to monitor greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. Climate change is a serious threat to the environment and to human society. It can lead to more extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and wildfires. It can also lead to sea level rise, which can inundate coastal communities.
By monitoring greenhouse gases, NASA scientists can better understand how climate change is progressing and how to reduce its impacts.