A new NASA satellite that will peer into the topmost layer of Earth's soils to measure the hidden waters that influence our weather and climate is in final preparations for a January 29, 2015 dawn launch from California. The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will take the pulse of a key measure of our water planet: how freshwater cycles over Earth's land surfaces in the form of soil moisture. This data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.
This article compares quantitative estimates for groundwater loss and glacier recession and considers the significance of their relative magnitudes. It concludes that the effect of food and agriculture, hence of population, may be significantly greater than that attributable to the global warming caused by industrial production and transport.
. In July 2014, NASA will launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to study the fate of carbon dioxide worldwide. Natural processes are working hard to keep the carbon cycle in balance by absorbing about half of our carbon emissions, limiting the extent of climate change. There's a lot we don't know about these processes, including where they are occurring and how they might change as the climate warms. To understand and prepare for the carbon cycle of the future, we have an urgent need to find out.
A unique housing arrangement between a specific tree species and carbo-loading bacteria may determine how well tropical forests can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, says new research from 16 September 2013 in an advance online publication of the journal Nature.
The oceans may be acidifying faster today than they did in the last 300 million years, according to scientists who published a paper in the March 2, 2012 issue of the journal Science. "These scientists have synthesized and evaluated evidence far back in Earth's history," said Candace Major, program officer in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research. "The ocean acidification we're seeing today is unprecedented…a result of the very fast rates at which we're changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans."