Thursday, February 24, 2011

How climate change models could get better, thanks to NASA

NASA is set to launch satellite Glory early Wednesday. It will measure incoming sunlight and atmospheric particles, both key to crafting better climate models.

In the dark of night, scientists expect to launch a satellite they hope will provide new insights into the energy the sun provides for Earth's climate in the light of day.

At 2:09 a.m. Pacific Standard Time Wednesday, NASA is launching Glory on a mission that will give the most accurate measurements yet of incoming sunlight, as well as highly accurate measurements of the size, distribution, and effects of tiny particles in the atmosphere known as aerosols, planners say.

The satellite's data should help atmospheric scientists improve climate models. Better models not only would increase scientists' knowledge of how the climate system operates, but also would help them make more accurate projections of the effects of global warming – even as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to rise, as a result of burning fossil fuels and land-use changes. Read More

Ancient megadroughts preview warmer climate: study (Reuters) - Ancient megadroughts that lasted thousands of years in what is now the American Southwest could offer a preview of a climate changed by modern greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported on Wednesday.