Areas of disturbed forest and woodland cover in Santa Clara County.

Major changes in Forest and woodland vegetation cover in Santa...

  A new study published in the journal "Current Urban Studies" by NASA Ames scientist Christopher Potter has documented major changes in forest and...

Collage of Global Hawk photos taken during the 2014 mission. Image Credit:  NASA/ Brian Kelly and Erin Czech

HS3 Hurricane Mission Investigated Four Tropical Cyclones in...

NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission investigated four tropical cyclones in the 2014 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season: Cristobal...

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The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change.

NASA Airborne Campaigns Tackle Climate Questions from Africa to...

Five new NASA airborne field campaigns will take to the skies starting in 2015 to investigate how long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters, and ...

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3-D printed wing part for the FrankenEye aircraft.

It's Alive! Ames Engineers Harvest and Print Parts for New...

It's more an engineer's dream than nightmare - to rapidly prototype and redesign aircraft using 3-D printed parts. That's just what a team of student ...

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The ARISE research team lines up in front of the NASA C-130 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, for a group photo

ARISE Researchers Close out Alaska Field Campaign

Data from ARISE will help scientists understand the relationship between ocean and ice surfaces and clouds and the role that relationship plays in the...

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NASA's HS3 Looks Hurricane Edouard in the Eye

Scientists on NASA's HS3 mission got lucky on September 17 when the remotely piloted Global Hawk dropped a sonde that fell in Hurricane Eduoard's eye ...

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This image of the King wildfire in the California Sierras was captured by the MASTER spectrometer aboard NASA's high-flying ER-2 on Sept. 19. The towns of Placerville and Pollock Pines along Highway 50 are at lower left; Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City are at upper right.

NASA ER-2 Captures Image of King Fire in Sierras

MASTER spectrometer image overlaid on a Google Earth photo graphically depicts the fire's boundaries in the visible through thermal infrared spectrum....

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Earth Science at Ames


    Who We Are & What We Do


    Highlights for April 2015


    • On April 24, the Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment (AJAX) conducted flight profiles over the Kern oil drilling field to measure greenhouse gases and ozone as part of the GOSAT COMEX Experiment (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite CO2 Methane EXperiment).


    • OIB (Operation IceBridge) (Arctic) (March 9 – May 22, 2015)  The OIB C-130 (NA439) transited from Thule AB to Fairbanks, Alaska March 26 to conduct mapping of the sea ice early in the season. OIB relocated from Thule AB to Kangerlussuaq on April 6th and stayed in Kangerlussuaq until April 29 before returning to Thule AB for the remainder of the campaign ending May 22. OIB has 300 flight hours planned for this campaign. 


    • The 2015 California HyspIRI Airborne Preparatory Project began April 16 and will end October 31.  The mission window dates are, Spring (April 16-May 15), early Summer (June 1-12), late Summer (August 17-28), and Fall (September 15-October 31).  The UCSC/ARC team will conduct coincident field measurements in Monterey Bay and Pinto Lake. Raphe Kudela, UCSC, is the PI and ARC team members are Liane Guild, Sherry Palacios, and Juan Torres-Perez. Other project funded sites can be found on the project’s website:



    • New publications:  
      -  Fine, R., M. B. Miller, E. L. Yates, L. T. Iraci, M. S. Gustin (2015), Investigating the influence of long-range transport on surface O3 in Nevada, USA, using observations from multiple measurement platforms, Sci. Total Environ. (In press)
      -  Sorek-Hamer, M., I. Kloog, P. Koutrakis, A. W. Strawa, R. Chatfield, A. Cohen, W. L. Ridgway, and D.M. Broday (2015), Assessment of PM2.5 concentrations over bright surfaces using MODIS satellite observations, Remote Sensing of Environment, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2015.03.014. (In press)


    • Satellite Data Shows Turf Lawns Are The Largest Irrigated Crop. The Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun (April 22), in a 3800-word article, details how Sun City Shadow Hills is dealing with California’s drought “by transitioning from grass lawns to desert landscaping or artificial turf.” The article notes that while crops have been “vilified” for their water use, Cristina Milesi of the Ames Research Center has compiled satellite data that shows that “turf lawns constitute the largest irrigated crop in the U.S.”


    • Juan Torres-Pérez is conducting a field campaign in Puerto Rico related to the HICE-PR project from April 24 to May 15. This campaign includes the characterization of a shallow reef located on the north coast of the Island. This is the first attempt to obtain data regarding the condition of the benthic components of the area (corals and other organisms). Additionally, spectral data from beach sediments, beach rocks and eolianites of an adjacent beach will be collected and incorporated in a beach geomorphological analysis to study the contribution of riverine sediments to the general beach composition. Also, as part of this field campaign, researchers will conduct a series of field trips to obtain video transects of several reefs in the southwest coast of PR that will later be used for an ecologic and habitat suitability modeling.


    • Ames Earth Science Division (Code SG) participated in the US Army Reserve 63d Regional Support Command Earth Day Fair on Apr. 22, 2015. The Earth Science Division booth highlighted the use of robotic aircraft (Unmanned Aerial System UAS) as a game-changing tool for Earth Science research, application of remote sensing tools and techniques to mitigate California's drought, an example of public/private partnership for long term Earth observation, and airborne science for Earth Science research. Warren Gore (Code SGG), Don Sullivan (Code SGE), and John Shupe (ARC-CREST) staffed the booth.


    • An on-line NASA article titled Big Data Helps Scientists Dig Deeper, was published March 26.  Rama Nemani is quoted in this article and NEX is mentioned twice: in addition, Evan Brooks who was one of the students in the Ames 2012 Summer Short Course for Earth System Modeling and Supercomputing is more extensively quoted.


    • Kirk Knobelspiesse (Code SGG) has published the results from his 2013 Science Innovation Fund-ed (CIF) project.  Knobelspiesse, K., B. van Diedenhoven, A. Marshak, S. E. Dunagan, B. Holben, and I. Slutsker (2015), Cloud thermodynamic phase detection with polarimetrically sensitive passive sky radiometers, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 1537-1554, doi:10.5194/amt-8-1537-2015.


    • Christopher Potter (SGE) has a new research paper accepted for publication in the journal Climatic Change, titled “Vegetation Cover Change in the Upper Kings River basin of the Sierra Nevada Detected using Landsat Satellite Image Analysis”.   A synopsis of the study is that Landsat image analysis over the past 25 years in the Upper Kings River basin of California showed that the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) has decreased significantly at elevations above 2000 m throughout the basin since the mid-1980s.  These new findings conflict with previous assumptions that river flows downstream in the Sierra Nevada have been altered mainly by vegetation change in recent decades.




    • Robert Dahlgren and Kevin Reynolds presented a seminar entitled "The Opportunities and Challenges Associated With 3D Printing Aircraft Systems,” at the Stanford AA294 graduate seminar series organized by Professor Antony Jameson on April 8. 


    • A number of SGE scientists participated in the NASA Joint Science workshop held April 20-24, in Hyattsville, MD:

    -  Jennifer Dungan presented a poster for the NASA award “Extending the Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS) to NPP Applications” (ROSES 2010) during the Land Use Land Cover Change special session on Sentinel-2.

    -  Vern Vanderbilt presented a poster, “Is There Ecological Information in Optical Polarization Data?”  at the Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems session.
    -  Jay Skiles attended the annual meeting for the Applied Sciences Program Ecosystem and Carbon Cycle teams.  Skiles moderated break-out sessions. 


    • Code SGG researchers presented research results at the 2015 European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly on Apr. 12-17, in Vienna, Austria.  Jens Redemann et al., “Aerosol-cloud interactions in the South-East Atlantic: knowledge gaps, planned observations to address them, and implications for global climate change modeling.”


    • Code SGG researchers participated in the SEAC4RS (Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys) Science Team Meeting on Apr. 28 – May 1, 2015 at Caltech Campus, Pasadena, CA:


    -  Jon Dean-Day (BAER), “Evaluating spatial scales of Eddy convariance fluxes over the Southeastern United States using 20-Hz wind and temperature data from the NASA DC-8 Meteorological Measurement System” (poster)

    -  Samuel LeBlanc (NPP, Jens Redemann advisor), “Cloud properties retrieved from airborne measurements of transmitted and reflected shortwave spectral radiation” (oral)

    -  Leonhard Pfister, “A meteorological overview of the SEAC4RS mission” (oral)

    -  Leonhard Pfister, “Convective influence in the North American UTLS during SEAC4RS: Air origins and comparison with previous years” (poster)

    -  Emma Yates (BAER), “Airborne measurements and emission estimates of greenhouse gases and other trace constituents from the 2013 California Yosemite Rim wildfire” (poster)


    • For the second year in a row, Juan L. Torres-Pérez – will participated in the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Panel Review in Washington, DC, on April 1st. Other Ames scientists participating in this panel review were Vern Vanderbilt and Jay Skiles.  


    • Vince Ambrosia presented a Google Tech Talk on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 entitled: UAS For Wildfire Management at Google Headquarters in Mountain View.  Youtube video will be available soon. 


    • Kirk Knobelspiesse is planning to present a talk entitled “Determination of cloud thermodynamic phase with ground based, polarimetrically sensitive, passive sky radiometers” at the 15th Electromagnetic and Light Scattering Conference on Jun. 2-26, 2015 in Leipzig, Germany.


    • Bernadette Luna, Marilyn Vasques, and Michael Craig (Code SG) participated in the Next Practices in Planning, Organizing and Implementing International Field Campaigns Workshop, held Apr. 21-23, in New Orleans, LA.


    • Christopher Potter's work in collaboration with Stanford University was mentioned on  KZSU's program "Modern Tek News" during the March 26 broadcast.  The topic under discussion is the Marin Carbon Project, an effort to help mitigate climate change by increasing carbon sequestration on ranch land. The program is described here:
    (Chris's work is mention at 19:19.)
    • Christopher Potter and Vanessa Genovese (SGE) have delivered new forest change maps for the countries of Peru and Madagascar to partners at Conservation International (CI) under the NASA Wildlands Fire II program.  Lead by Russ Mittermeier and Harrison Ford, CI is considered to be the largest non-profit conservation organization with close ties to businesses and governments worldwide. The CI Wildlands Fire project ( works in over 30 countries to track ecosystem disturbances such as deforestation and protected area encroachment, and delivers this time-sensitive information to decision makers through email alerts, maps, and reports.
    • Christopher Potter (SGE) published an invited contribution to the All-Bird Bulletin (ABB) under the title “Using Satellite Remote Sensing to Map Changes in Wetland Plant Cover in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta of California.”  The online link is  The Spring 2015 issue of ABB is dedicated to "Using Remote Sensing Information to Understand Landscape Chang."  ABB is the e-newsletter of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee, a forum of government agencies, private organizations and bird initiatives helping partners across the continent meet their common bird conservation objectives. 


    • Newt Gingrich, an American politician, historian, author and political consultant, visited Lynn Rothschild’s Lab in N-239 on April 28.  The discussions with Mr. Gingrich included synthetic biology, biological UAVs and the iGEM team activities.  He was very interested in the biomining activities and the power cell development and asked for additional information. Rothschild will send him a briefing on both activities.


    Synbio news
    • EuCROPIS: The team continues to prepare for PDR (April 29).  Kevin Sato, who will be reviewing the science, met with the science team April 22.
    • Lynn Rothschild's article in PNAS was written up in The New Yorker on line, April 3, 2015.  "What are the colors of Alien life?" was highlighted in this featured article. Last month, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Rothschild and her colleagues Siddharth Hegde, Lisa Kaltenegger, Ryan Kent, and Ivan G. Paulino-Lima announced the creation of an open-access database that aims to help astronomers do just that. It is a library of so-called biosignatures, the colors that living creatures—in this case, a hundred and thirty-seven species of microbe—reflect back when illuminated. The developers of the database see ways of expanding its usefulness. Kaltenegger is working on a paper discussing how much of a planet’s surface an organism has to cover in order to be detectable. The New Yorker article is available here:


    • Lynn Rothschild was interviewed on HuffPost Live, March 31, about the biodegradable UAV project from the Stanford-Brown-Spelman 2014 iGEM team, and about future plans to take the technology to Mars.  It was part of HuffPost Live’s “Drone Zone” segment, where they discuss the most interesting and noteworthy drone stories of the week.
    • On Sunday April 19, Rothschild presented a keynote for the 54 annual meeting of the Northeast Algal Society entitled, “ Extremophiles and the search for Life in the Universe.”  Coincidentally, the first professional talk Lynn gave was exactly 30 years ago at the same meeting.


    For additional highlights, click here