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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation EARTH SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS FROM SPACE URGENT NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE THE NATION Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract NASW-01001 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Contract DG133R04C00009 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Contract 05HQGR0104 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Geological Survey. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies that provided support for the project. COVER: Global radar measurements from the SeaWinds scatterometer on the QuikSCAT satellite provide scientists and weather forecasters with information on surface wind speed and direction. Scientists also use the radar measurements directly to learn about changes in vegetation and ice extent over land and polar regions. This false-color image is based entirely on SeaWinds measurements obtained over oceans, land, and polar regions. Over the ocean, colors indicate wind speed, with orange as the fastest wind speeds and blue as the slowest. White streamlines indicate the wind direction. The ocean winds in this image were measured by SeaWinds on September 20, 1999. The large storm in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida is Hurricane Gert. Tropical storm Harvey is evident as a high-wind region in the Gulf of Mexico, while farther west in the Pacific is tropical storm Hilary. An extensive storm is also present in the South Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica. The land image was made from 4 days’ worth of SeaWinds data with the aid of a resolution enhancement algorithm developed by David Long at Brigham Young University. Further information about this image is available at <http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/publications/pacific_global_winds_5.cfm>. International Standard Book Number 0-309-09672-3 Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation OTHER REPORTS OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD The Astrophysical Context of Life (2005) Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration (2005) Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration (2005) Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report (SSB with Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, 2004) Exploration of the Outer Heliosphere and the Local Interstellar Medium: A Workshop Report (2004) Issues and Opportunities Regarding the U.S. Space Program: A Summary Report of a Workshop on National Space Policy (SSB with Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, 2004) Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos (2004) Review of Science Requirements for the Terrestrial Planet Finder: Letter Report (2004) Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration (2004) Understanding the Sun and Solar System Plasmas: Future Directions in Solar and Space Physics (2004) Utilization of Operational Environmental Satellite Data: Ensuring Readiness for 2010 and Beyond (SSB with Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, 2004) Assessment of NASA’s Draft 2003 Earth Science Enterprise Strategy: Letter Report (2003) Assessment of NASA’s Draft 2003 Space Science Enterprise Strategy: Letter Report (2003) Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations (SSB with Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, 2003) Steps to Facilitate Principal-Investigator-Led Earth Science Missions (2003) The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: Panel Reports (2003) Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2002) New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (2002) The Sun to Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2002) Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium (Board on Physics and Astronomy with SSB, 2000) Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council The Keck Center of the National Academies 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3477 email@example.com www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release.
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation COMMITTEE ON EARTH SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS FROM SPACE: A COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY FOR THE FUTURE RICHARD A. ANTHES, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Co-chair BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire, Co-chair JAMES G. ANDERSON, Harvard University SUSAN K. AVERY, University of Colorado, Boulder ERIC J. BARRON, Pennsylvania State University OTIS B. BROWN, JR., University of Miami SUSAN L. CUTTER, University of South Carolina WILLIAM B. GAIL, Vexcel Corporation BRADFORD H. HAGER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ANTHONY HOLLINGSWORTH, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts ANTHONY C. JANETOS, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment KATHRYN A. KELLY, University of Washington NEAL F. LANE, Rice University DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, University of Washington ARAM M. MIKA,1 Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company WARREN M. WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research MARK L. WILSON, University of Michigan MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey Staff ARTHUR CHARO, Study Director, Space Studies Board ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources THERESA M. FISHER, Senior Program Assistant, Space Studies Board CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Assistant Editor 1 The committee notes with deep regret Aram Mika’s death on May 18, 2005.
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation SPACE STUDIES BOARD LENNARD A. FISK, University of Michigan, Chair GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired), Vice Chair DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado ANA P. BARROS, Duke University RETA F. BEEBE, New Mexico State University ROGER D. BLANDFORD, Stanford University RADFORD BYERLY, JR., University of Colorado JUDITH A. CURRY, Georgia Institute of Technology JACK D. FARMER, Arizona State University JACQUELINE N. HEWITT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DONALD INGBER, Harvard Medical Center RALPH H. JACOBSON, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (retired) TAMARA E. JERNIGAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory MARGARET G. KIVELSON, University of California, Los Angeles CALVIN W. LOWE, Bowie State University HARRY Y. McSWEEN, JR., University of Tennessee BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire NORMAN NEUREITER, Texas Instruments (retired) SUZANNE OPARIL, University of Alabama, Birmingham RONALD F. PROBSTEIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DENNIS W. READEY, Colorado School of Mines ANNA-LOUISE REYSENBACH, Portland State University ROALD S. SAGDEEV, University of Maryland CAROLUS J. SCHRIJVER, Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory HARVEY D. TANANBAUM, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory J. CRAIG WHEELER, University of Texas, Austin A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired) JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation Preface In response to requests from NASA, NOAA, and the USGS, the National Research Council has begun a decadal survey of Earth science and applications from space. Developed in consultation with members of the Earth science community, the guiding principle for the study is to set an agenda for observations in support of Earth science and applications from space in which attaining practical benefits for humankind plays a role equal to that of acquiring vitally important new knowledge about our planet.1 These benefits may range from access to information that can satisfy short-term needs for weather warnings for the protection of life and property, to the development of longer-term scientific understanding that is the lifeblood of future societal applications, the details of which are not predictable. Among the key tasks in the charge to the Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space are the requests to: Develop a consensus on the top-level scientific questions that should provide the focus for Earth and environmental observations in the period 2005-2015; and Develop a prioritized list of recommended space programs, missions, and supporting activities to address these questions. The committee’s final report, expected in late 2006, will address these tasks as well as the others described in Appendix A.2 The purpose of this brief interim report, which was requested by the sponsors of the study and by members of congressional staff, is to provide an early indication of urgent, near-term issues that require attention prior to publication of the committee’s final report. 1 Development of the vision for the study drew on information received in response to a widely distributed request for comments; town-hall style discussions at the December 2004 meeting in San Francisco of the American Geophysical Union and the January 2005 meeting in San Diego of the American Meteorological Society; committee discussions at a workshop held on August 23-25, 2004, in Woods Hole, Mass.; and discussions at two committee meetings held on November 8-9, 2004, in Washington, D.C., and January 4-6, 2005, in Irvine, Calif. 2 The final report will also draw on the work of seven study panels organized according to the following themes to address all of the elements of the statement of task (see Appendix A): (1) Earth science applications and societal needs, (2) ecosystem health and biodiversity, (3) weather (including chemical and space weather), (4) climate variability and change, (5) water resources and the global hydrologic cycle, (6) human health and security, and (7) solid-Earth hazards, resources, and dynamics.
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Judith Curry, Georgia Institute of Technology, Lennard A. Fisk, University of Michigan, Christopher O. Justice, University of Maryland, Pamela A. Matson, Stanford University, Norine E. Noonan, College of Charleston, David T. Sandwell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Paul D. Try, Science and Technology Corporation. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Carl Wunsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 SCIENCE FOR THE BENEFIT OF SOCIETY 9 2 EARTH OBSERVATIONS AND PRESIDENTIAL INITIATIVES 13 3 CRITICAL NEEDS FOR TODAY 16 Proceed with GPM and GIFTS, 18 Evaluate Plans for Transferring Needed Capabilities to NPOESS, 19 Develop a Technology Base for Future Earth Observation, 23 Reinvigorate the NASA Earth Explorer Missions Program, 25 Strengthen Baseline Climate Observations and Climate Data Records, 27 4 SUMMARY AND NEXT STEPS 32 APPENDIXES A Statement of Task 35 B Acronyms and Abbreviations 37 C Biographies of Committee Members and Staff 39
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