UMD AOSC Seminar
Satellite Contributions to the Study of Global Change
Dr. Claire L. Parkinson
Earth Observing System Project Science Office
Satellites are providing major data sets for buttressing our understanding of recent large-scale changes within the highly interconnected Earth system. From the top of the atmosphere to the surface, these records are revealing spatial and temporal details of important global changes. Among the key variables monitored by satellite instruments are: stratospheric ozone, including the disturbing Antarctic ozone hole; tropospheric carbon dioxide, with its prominent annual cycle and upward trend, the latter caused at least in part by human activities; stratospheric and tropospheric temperatures with their predicted opposing trends; sea surface temperatures and their contrasts in El Nino versus non-El Nino years; ocean chlorophyll and fluorescence, reflective of the presence and health of marine plant life, respectively; land ice coverage and its recent reductions, along with the related rise in sea level; sea ice, with its prominent overall decreases in the Arctic and lesser increases in the Antarctic, since the late 1970s; and a variety of land phenomena, such as terrestrial water storage, snow coverage, forest coverage, and changes in lake levels. The satellite data are derived from ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and microwave radiation collected by a variety of active and passive space-borne instruments. Although satellite data sets are far from perfect and are extremely short in a climatological sense, many of them have major advantages in providing a global view and frequent repeat coverage. The global view, for instance, lessens the likelihood of climate change discussions becoming endlessly mired in the confusions brought about by regional differences. Along with paleoclimate proxies, in situ measurements, and sophisticated computer models, satellite records are contributing in a major way to our improved understanding of global change.
November 12, 2009, Thurday
Computer and Space Sciences (CSS) Building, Auditorium (Room 2400)