Polar sea ice grows and shrinks dramatically each year, driven by seasonal cycles. Habitat for wildlife and harbinger of changing climate, sea ice offers scientists important clues about the state of our planet. Read more
Off the coast of Namibia in southern Africa, a near-permanent cloud-bank and a layer of airborne particles above it make the perfect natural laboratory to study the interactions of clouds, aerosols, and climate change. Read more
Charles Ichoku wants to understand whether fires in sub-Saharan Africa are changing the timing and duration of rains. The viability of Lake Chad may depend on what his team finds. Read more
The U.S. National Park Service celebrates its centennial in 2016, commemorating 100 years of stewardship of America’s natural and historic treasures. Many of those monuments, scenic rivers, parks, and historic sites are visible from space—where the views are just as compelling. Read more
In the second part of this field campaign, scientists will visit the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii where ocean salinity concentrations are driven by precipitation. They will spend six weeks studying how variations in salinity relate to an acceleration of the global water cycle and climate change. Read more
The Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission seeks to understand how short-lived greenhouse gases like ozone and methane contribute to climate change. NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory will fly from Alaska to the tip of South America, then north to Greenland to measure more than 200 gases and particles in the air and their interactions. Read more
In summer 2016, researchers landed on the Greenland Ice Sheet to study the efficiency of its drainage system. Intensive mapping, monitoring, and measuring of the ice sheet's rivers will help scientists improve estimates of ice loss via surface melt and its effect on global sea level rise. Read more
Shrinking since at least the early 1900s, the ice cover in Glacier National Park is expected to keep declining until only insignificant lumps remain. These images show changes to the park's ice and surrounding landscape since 1984. Read more
NASA's Walt Meir uses satellites to study sea ice. But like many modelers and remote sensing researchers, he had never stepped foot on this remote polar icescape. In spring 2016, Meir joined other satellite remote sensing scientists, sea ice modelers, and field researchers in Barrow, Alaska. Read more
Many National Parks were created to protect forests and ecosystems from development and fragmentation. But changes in temperature, rainfall, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide could eventually do as much to remake forests as humans did with saws and fires and bulldozers. Read more
For a decade, the CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites have used radar and lidar to “slice” through clouds and plumes of atmospheric particles to gain a better understanding of the vertical structures of the ephemeral features. Read more
The concentration of methane in the atmosphere has been fluctuating, mostly rising. The question is why. Scientists wonder if they have the right monitoring systems in place to answer that question adequately. Read more
The Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) is a multi-year field campaign in Alaska and western Canada, involving dozens of research teams. ABoVE researchers are investigating the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems (such as permafrost, forests, and coastlines) and society to this changing environment. Read more
Satellite images showing how our world— forests, oceans,
cities, even the Sun— has changed in recent decades.
The night side of Earth twinkles with light in these composite global and regional views.