2022 Arctic Summer Sea Ice Tied for 10th-Lowest on Record

According to satellite observations, Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent (lowest amount of ice for the year) on Sept. 18, 2022. The ice cover shrank to an area of 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles) this year, roughly 1.55 million square kilometers (598,000 square miles) below the 1981-2010 average minimum of 6.22 million square kilometers (2.40 million square miles).

This visualization of sea ice change in the Arctic uses data provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s…

NASA Software Maps Changes in Current and Future Animal Movements

In the face of growing environmental pressures, changing climates, and ecological damage, organisms around the globe have been forced to move from their historic ranges to find more suitable habitats. As these changes continue, the long-term survival of many species depends on their ability to safely traverse the landscape to find more optimal habitats. To improve animal connectivity and conservation strategies, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) climate change ecologist and NASA-funded principal investigator Kimberly Hall and her team of scientists updated the…

US-European Satellite Will Make World’s First Global Freshwater Survey

In Brief:

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission will make measurements of over 95% of Earth’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Water is life, but for all its importance, humanity has a surprisingly limited view of Earth’s freshwater bodies. Researchers have reliable water level measurements for only a few thousand lakes around the world, and little to no data on some of the planet’s important river systems. The upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite will fill that enormous gap….

Arctic Sea Ice Maximum at Tenth Lowest in Satellite Record

On February 25, 2022, Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for the year, coming in at the tenth lowest in the satellite record. The wintertime extent peaked at 5.75 million square miles (14.88 million square kilometers) and is roughly 297,300 square miles (770,000 square kilometers) below the 1981-2010 average maximum – equivalent to missing an area of ice slightly larger than Texas and Maine combined. This maximum ties with 2015 as the third earliest on record. Read the full…

Thawing Permafrost Could Leach Microbes, Chemicals Into Environment

In Brief:

Scientists are turning to a combination of data collected from the air, land, and space to get a more complete picture of how climate change is affecting the planet’s frozen regions.

Trapped within Earth’s permafrost – ground that remains frozen for a minimum of two years – are untold quantities of greenhouse gases, microbes, and chemicals, including the now-banned pesticide DDT. As the planet warms, permafrost is thawing at an increasing rate, and scientists face a host of uncertainties when…

Developing a Freshwater Health Index: Encompassing Earth Data, Community Concerns, and Climate Change

Earth's climate is changing, and one of the main impacts is on the water cycle. For example, there is an elevated risk of more frequent and intense flooding and droughts. Also, the amount of water flowing in individual streams and rivers is changing, and those changes affect water supplies to communities. NASA Earth science satellites and other remote-sensing techniques can fill in information gaps, but scientific data are just one piece of the larger puzzle when it comes to sustainable water…

NASA Finds Each State Has Its Own Climatic Threshold for Flu Outbreaks

A visualization of the AIRS instrument’s measurements of atmospheric water vapor around the globe during a few months of the flu study, which focused on data from 2003 to 2015. AIRS is on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/AIRS

In Brief:

NASA satellite data illuminates a critical relationship between low humidity and the outbreak of flu in the U.S.

What triggers an outbreak of the influenza virus? A new study of the flu in the 48 contiguous U.S. states, using data from the…

California Fire Led to Spike in Bacteria, Cloudiness in Coastal Waters

California Fire Led to Spike in Bacteria, Cloudiness in Coastal Waters

In Brief:

Scientists analyzed coastal water quality in the months following a major Southern California wildfire. Their results were eye-opening.

The November 2018 Woolsey Fire in Southern California’s Los Angeles and Ventura counties left more than a nearly 100,000-acre burn scar behind: It also left the adjacent coastal waters with unusually high levels of fecal bacteria and sediment that remained for months. For a new study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, scientists combined satellite imagery, precipitation data, and water quality reports to…

NASA Supports Research to Advance Earth Science

In Brief:

A prize competition is designed to engage underrepresented academic institutions in helping NASA make advancements in machine learning, AI, and developing of autonomous systems.

Through a new prize competition, NASA is engaging minority serving institutions (MSIs) to bring ideas for new information technologies that will help address climate change. The prize competition, the MSI Space Accelerator, comes from a new partnership between NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, the Minority University Research Education Project within the Office of STEM Engagement, NASA’s Jet…

Sea Level to Rise up to a Foot by 2050, Interagency Report Finds

In Brief:

NASA, NOAA, USGS, and other U.S. government agencies project that the rise in ocean height in the next 30 years could equal the total rise seen over the past 100 years.

Coastal flooding will increase significantly over the next 30 years because of sea level rise, according to a new report by an interagency sea level rise task force that includes NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other federal agencies. Titled Global and Regional Sea Level Rise…