Earth  ID: 4700

PACE - Studying Plankton, Aerosols, Clouds, and the Ocean Ecosystem

In terms of life on Earth, color describes more than simply how features look. In many cases color serves as a proxy for biological processes. When studying ocean biology, colors count in a big way.

NASA’s PACE mission (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) has been conceived principally as a way to measure ocean color for assessing large scale ocean health. These measurements will provide data to determine the distribution of phytoplankton, tiny plants and algae that sustain the marine food web. A simple way to think about this is the more “green” that’s visible from space, the more prevalent are plant cells containing chlorophyll, an essential green pigment responsible for energy-producing photosynthesis in plants. Phytoplankton populations are fundamental to understanding the overall health of the ocean food web, as well as a wide range of related processes.

PACE will be able to see other colors too—a broad range of color, in fact, stretching beyond the bounds of visible light into both ultraviolet as well as infrared. PACE will also be able to make measurements of aerosols in the atmosphere, essential for scientists to improve our understanding of and our ability to forecast weather and climate.

PACE continues a more than 20 year legacy of ocean color measurements, providing the scientific community with a long time series of data. That legacy enables better assessments of long term trends about complex processes on Earth.

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Visualization Credits

Kel Elkins (USRA): Lead Visualizer
Alex Kekesi (GST): Visualizer
Michael Starobin (KBRwyle): Lead Producer
Jeremy Werdell (NASA/GSFC): Lead Scientist
Walt Feimer (KBRwyle): Animator
Michael Lentz (USRA): Animator
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG)

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Data Used:
SeaStar/SeaWiFS/Chlorophyll Concentration 1997/09 - 2007/11
Comiso's Daily Sea Ice Concentration 1997/9 - 2017/9
SeaStar/SeaWiFS/NDVI 1997/09 - 2007/11
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) 2007/10 - 2012/2
Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Chlorophyll Concentration 2012/2 - 2017/9
Suomi NPP/VIIRS 2018/08
GEOS Atmospheric Model 2014/12
Suomi NPP/VIIRS/NDVI 2012/2 - 2017/9
Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS)/IMS Daily Northern Hemisphere Snow and Ice Analysis - 24 km Resolution 1997/9 - 2017/9
Aqua/MODIS/Chlorophyll Concentration OCl 2007/10 - 2012/2
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

DLESE >> Atmospheric science
DLESE >> Biology
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Aerosols
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Clouds
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
NASA Earth Science Focus Areas >> Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version