Transcripts of movie [Music] Behold the Earth, teaming with life, ideally suited for the development of human civilization. It's no wonder that previous generations held the fundamental belief that the resources of the world were unlimited, that our planet with this ideal environment for life was provided for our benefit and that we bear no responsibility for ensuring that the Earth remains fertile for the development of our civilization. But as our population has grown, our appetite for energy has increased and in some cases we have misused our land. We can no longer assume that the Earth will remain eternally ideal for the advancement of our civilization or the quality of our life. Rather we will forevermore be called upon to heed that biblical admonition, we need to be wise stewards of creation. But how do we know what to do? How does the Earth really work? How could humans influence our climate or sea levels or any other aspect of the habitability of our planet? Fortunately, as our technological civilization has grown to where humans can affect the Earth, we have also been provided with the tools to study the Earth and understand it, predict its future and determine the actions that will be most effective to protect our future for generations to come. In the early 1980s, we've been studying the individual components of the Earth; the atmosphere through meteorology and atmospheric chemistry, the oceans through oceanography, the land and its biology through ecology, but the Earth is more complicated than that. The atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere, the cryosphere are all coupled with complicated feedback mechanisms, governing their interactions. The Earth is not simply individual components. It is an integrated system that we need to understand is a system, if we are to predict the future of the Earth. In the late 1980s, NASA embraced the concept of Earth system science by bringing to bear the most important resource for studying the earth as a system, the global perspective of Earth that is provided by orbiting spacecraft. NASA undertook one of its most important programs, the Mission to the Planet Earth and the Earth observing system with the Terra and the Aqua and the Aura satellites as the principal observatories for studying the Earth as a system. Many satellites have been added to this fleet of satellites observing the Earth and these satellites are and will continue to provide comprehensive observations from which we can understand the earth and develop the models that allow us to predict our future. In tonight's program, we are going to celebrate what we have learned about the key components of the Earth systems since we embarked upon Mission to Planet Earth some three decades ago. But as we celebrate, all that we have learned, we need to be aware that we are in a race against time. The Earth is changing. Human civilization is influencing the Earth. We need the best possible scientific understanding of all the factors that will influence the future of the planet so that we can make wise policy decisions to protect and to preserve this planet on which our civilization depends and if need be adapt to the changes that will come. We need to become and forevermore remain wise stewards of creation. We begin this evening with Gail Jackson; who will discuss the water cycle that is essential for life. Then Lola Fatoyinbo will talk about the carbon cycle which is driven by many events including changing forest covers and Thorsten Markus will examine the key ice sheets of the Antarctic and Arctic and their role in sea level rise and finally Piers Sellers will wrap up with all the tasks that still lie before us. Gail! [Applause] Thank you! Our Earth is a water planet from the oceans, ice, rivers, lakes and aquifers to the water suspend in our hydrosphere, our Earth is definitely a water planet. Take a look at our lovely Earth? Did you know that 99.5% of that water is stored in our salty seas or locked up in glaciers and other inaccessible locations, leaving precious little fresh water available to support our life on Earth? So one of the vital signs of our Earth is the water cycle and understanding it and knowing it will help us to monitor our freshwater resources and we can do this by measuring where, how the water moves within our planet and I will talk about that today. This is a cartoon of our water cycle. It shows the linkages between the surface water, condensation, precipitation, and evaporation. The water cycle is a complex system that drives the movement of water and actually heat and energy around our planet; let's start by exploring the role of our deep and vast oceans in the water cycle. As you can see in this visualization of satellite data, the ocean surface temperatures are not uniform around the oceans. The warm waters is in red and the cool waters is in blue; drive the movement of water and heat throughout the oceans which can in turn then influence our weather patterns such as might be saying during El Niño and La Niña Years. Also, driving the movement of water in our oceans is salinity. As shown in this visualization of Aquarius satellite data from NASA where evaporation occurs, our oceans get saltier, it's shown in red, where precipitation falls, ice melts or rivers discharge our oceans get fresher as shown in the blue. As your ocean water becomes saltier it becomes more dense and settles down to the bottom of the ocean and vice versa for the less salty water which rises to the top. Taken together, surface temperatures, salinity and also the ocean winds, the winds above the ocean, combine in a complex stance that drives the ocean circulation patterns as shown here. The oceans also store massive amounts of heat and are very slow to release it which makes them a major driver in our Earth's climate system. The oceans and the atmosphere actually work together. Without the oceans, the water stays on surface and we need the atmosphere as well. For example, intense sunlight in the tropics causes evaporation from the salty oceans and that water forms in to massive clouds. Those massive clouds, that are moved by the atmospheric winds to the mid-latitudes where precipitation occurs either in the form of rain or snow. The only way to get a global perspective of precipitation patterns is to measure from spaceborne platforms. Six months ago NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched our joint Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory Satellite or GPM for short. With two advanced instruments, the Core Observatory for the first time is able to measure all phases of precipitation from very, very heavy rain to light rain to falling snow. The GPM spacecraft serves as an anchor to a domestic and international constellation of satellite partners, which collectively provide precipitation estimates everywhere in the world every three hours, in essence taking the pulse of the planet's precipitation. This imagery shows one of the very first events measured by the GPM spacecraft. It was one of the late-season falling snow events here in East Coast on March 17. The resulting 7 inches of snow in the Washington DC area may have affected your St. Patrick's Day plans this year. Off the coast of the Carolinas, the high cloud tops are icy, down at the surface heavy rains shown in red fell in the Atlantic Ocean. Further North, overland, the storm has much lower cloud tops and they are composed of snow shown in blue which fell at the surface and we can see this information because the GPM spacecraft has two advanced instruments; one of them which I like to call the x-ray through the clouds measures the precipitation all way through the cloud and provides what I would call an x-ray at the surface. It's a two-dimensional view of the precipitation. The other instrument on board is what I like to call taking a CAT scan of the clouds and it takes layer by layer within the clouds information about the precipitation that's vital for helping us to understand precipitation and weather forecasting and climate models. So we're very excited about this data. Where else but NASA with our partners, are we able to achieve such success so early in the mission. GPM also uses this data for applications to provide societal benefit. GPM observes hurricanes and blizzards but as shown in the top two panels here, we are also able to look at the conditions that might lead to landslides and floods. On the other hand for trial and water availability maps as shown in the bottom two images, we need to know how little it has precipitated over time and GPM can tell us that too. Emergency management then can use this data in near real time to make evacuation plans. Precipitation in the water cycle influences every person, every day, everywhere, may be one of the greatest impacts of NASA's data is just used in improving weather forecasting models and climate change models for our everyday lives and our long-term future. Now I would like introduce Lola who is going to talk about the pulse of our planet's biosphere. [Applause] The most visual manifestation of life on earth happens every year when springtime comes and fresh green leaves and grasses appear all around us. The biosphere, our living world is fueled by the seasonal pulse of energy that the change in season brings. In this visualization, we can see the seasonal changes to plants on land and in the oceans. Using data like these, we can estimate agricultural yield worldwide, predict famines, fires and algae blooms or help with land management. This global view of our biosphere is also crucial for studying the flow of carbon to the Earth system and predicting the rate and effect of climate change on our home planet. In fact, the vegetation on land and in the oceans are crucial component of the global carbon cycle and climate change science. Plants are the real lungs of the Earth, absorbing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and producing the oxygen that we breathe. Here we see what's call net primary productivity; maps are aware and how much carbon is taken up or released by plants on a monthly basis. The colors are on these maps indicate how fast carbon was taken in for every square meter of land and you could see how most of the change in carbon uptake and emissions happens in the Northern Hemisphere where majority of the land masses lie. Maps such as these, allow a scientist to routinely monitor plant's role in the global carbon cycle and monitor how they're affecting and affected by or changing climate. Carbon is emitted into the atmosphere from natural sources such as forest clearing, decomposition, or volcanic activity. 90% of the non-natural emissions result from power production, cement production and transportation. Over time 50% of that carbon that's emitted stays in the atmosphere while 25% gets taken up by trees and plants and the remaining 25% is taken up by our oceans. And in fact, we can measure the contribution in vegetation growth and human's emissions on the carbon that is stored in the atmosphere using satellite data. So this visualization is a time series of the global distribution and variation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as observed by NASA satellite since the year 2000. For comparison we've overlaid a graph of the seasonal and inter-annual annual changed increase of carbon dioxide that was measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. So these data sets show us that the amount of carbon dioxide stored in the atmosphere is steadily increasing as we continuously pump carbon into the atmosphere and decrease our forested and vegetated areas. And even though we still see that semi annual depth in concentrations with the growth of vegetation in the springtime, the increasing trend of carbon dioxide concentrations is leading to the warming and changing of our planet. The seasonal pulse of vegetation growth is crucial for the well-being and balance of life on Earth. This visualization of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere shows how every springtime when forests, grasslands and agricultural lands Green up they suck up the carbon dioxide contained in the atmosphere through photosynthesis, but in the winter months that photosynthetic uptake is not there and the large amounts of carbon dioxide stay in the atmosphere and in fact data from satellite sensors have shown us that during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than anywhere else on Earth. But with changes in the distribution and type of land cover on earth, the natural cycle of growth and carbon dioxide uptake is being disturbed and more and more carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere. Forest fires are one of the leading causes of vegetation change and land use change emissions globally, but the cause of fires can be both natural or human induced. In Africa forest fires are used to clear land for agricultural activity and the amount and timing of fires is clearly linked to the seasonal changes from healthy green vegetation to dry grasses leading to these sweeping waves of fire that move from south to north and north to south each season. As these areas are getting hotter and drier with climate change, the intensity and amount of fire increases leading to even more clearing. But our satellite sensors don't just show us the health and changes in vegetation on large scales. We can also monitor the human impact on our planet on the scale of the city or our neighborhood. So this image series shows of the massive growth spurt of Las Vegas since 1972. Those large red areas are actually green spaces such as city parks or golf courses but now take a look at Lake Mead we can see how with the influx of people into the area, the water table is steadily decreasing. These images from Landsat really show us how we humans have changed our planet. Here we see the impact of mountaintop removal in West Virginia from 1984 to the present. In Saudi Arabia we're able to see how irrigation technology has led to agriculture expansion in deserts but also to water table depletion in nearby reservoirs. All of these examples are showing how we humans are changing the look of the planet and consequently significantly affecting its vital signs. Our last example shows a recent map of a forest cover loss that is highlighted the extensive changes happening since just the year 2000. These images show forest clearing from wildfires in Colorado from 2000 to 2012 fueled by record temperatures and dry conditions. In general, wildfires in the Western United States are increasing in frequency and duration due to higher temperatures and longer growing seasons and this has resulted in twice as many acres burnt each year compared to just 40 years ago. These seasons are like the heartbeat of the planet, fueling the growth of vegetation worldwide and just as the seasons can affect the health of forested areas, they're also affecting the health of our ice caps and glaciers and on that note I would like to thank you for listening and introduce the next speaker, Dr. Thorsten Markus. [Applause] Good evening, thank you Lola and before I start I just wanted to say that Lola couple of years ago won the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, super honor, congratulations. [Applause] So anyhow yeah we so anyhow we have good people Goddard, incase you haven’t noticed. So now, let's get to the cool part of this evening. The ice or we scientists call it lovingly the cryosphere or we use fancy words to make it sound better. Now the bad news for the ice, the earth is getting warmer and that's just a fact and no matter what you think about, global change, global warming etcetera, it is getting warmer and it's most pronounced at polar latitudes. It's especially true for the Arctic. We at Goddard, we have NASA I should say, we like to include JPL sometimes, we at Goddard and JPL a study of the Arctic from the satellite. It's a very hostile environment; it's only with satellites that we have. Now a data record of what's going on in the Arctic and the graph behind me, you see the temp of evolution of Arctic sea ice during the summer. In the early years of microsatellite imagery it was relatively stable and scientist detected a slight decrease and sea ice extent. But over the last year this trend has increased, the negative trend has increased tremendously and there is absolutely no doubt anymore from many scientist that the Arctic sea ice is shrinking tremendously. These trends are statistically significant. To understand better what's going on we need to understand that the ice, the Arctic sea ice, it's completely different from the frozen lake in your neighborhood. It's a highly, very highly dynamic system. It moves around like a pulsating living being and you can see for example west of Greenland and especially east of Greenland, these big streams, current of thick ice, it is leaving the Arctic system and it's way more than as I said a frozen lake. There are constant openings and closing and these openings where the heat from the ocean is getting into the atmosphere. It's a very complex system, it's very beautiful too I have to say and this is why it is so completed to predictions and if actually I could do prediction I would become a stock broker. So if the ice is shrinking and thinning, it's more subjective to changes in the atmosphere and oceanic conditions. The record minimum we observed in 2012 is largely driven by the storm that developed over the arctic that moved a lot of ice out of the Arctic ocean and so we are seeing these interactions between ocean atmosphere and ice more dramatically than we have seen in the past when we had a more consolidated pack of ice pack. So we see these drastic changes in the Arctic, on the other side you see the Antarctic and people notice hey, what's going on, the Arctic is changing, the Antarctic is not changing as much. As a matter of fact we see a slight increase in the Antarctic. The reason is these are completely different... completely different climate systems. For example, just to say one example, in the Arctic, at the North Pole we have ocean which is surrounded by land. So the opposite is true, in the southern hemisphere we have land mass which is surrounded by ocean and talking about land masses similar to the sea ice, the ice sheets are dynamic as well. Again it's not just a stable ice sheet. The way ice sheets work is it's snows, it's a center of the Arctic of the ice sheet Antarctica or Greenland and this ice is slowly moving towards the edges of the continent and breaks off as icebergs and if the system is imbalanced, the mass of snow equals the mass of the ice bergs that are breaking off. In addition to this though, we have seen increased melt, we had a record melt in Greenland a year or two ago, and in addition to melt itself we know that some of the melt waters accumulate as ponds on top of the ice, can drain to the bottom of the ocean... to the bottom of the ice sheet and lubricate the interface between the ice sheet and the bedrock, causing an extreme acceleration of glacier flow. Some of the glaciers especially around Greenland accelerated for more than 100%. We have satellites that can actually directly measure the mass of the ice sheets. One of the coolest concept, I mean as a physicist I think it's a really cool concept, it's Grace, and Grace does not look upwards or downwards, it actually just measures the distance between itself, between the two satellites and that with a precision with less of the width of a hair. The first satellite goes over a field of high gravity its accelerated ever so slightly and the distance between the satellites increases until the second satellite is over the same gravity hill and the distance becomes equal again. So using results from Grace, we can actually determine directly the mass of the ice sheets and if you look at the time series derived from Grace over Greenland, we can see we have tremendous, tremendous losses. We are losing right now about 200 gigatonnes of ice every year, every year, so I can, to provide an analogy, it is a kilometer, by kilometer, by a kilometer of ice is one gigatonne, or 200 gigatonnes, I did some math on my way out here, 200 gigatonnes of ice would cover the State of California roughly, with half a meter. So, we can add, half a meter every year for California. If Senator Nelson would still be here it is almost equal to area in, I think its equal close to the area of Florida. So and then we launched ICESat-1 in 2003, this was a first laser alternator that surrounded earth and we got a much better view in terms of how is elevation changing around Greenland, around Antarctica and it provided the first measurement of Antarctica as well as the Arctic sea ice. Before then, we were very pretty much blind of the third dimension of the ice sheets and the sea ice. So it was a real cool mission and very NASA, I think. ICESat-1 ended in 2009 and after that we started a campaign called operation IceBridge. The scientist, and fortunately, headquarters as well, realized we cannot afford to be completely blind to the fast changing conditions in the climate regions. So we are flying twice a year, over the key regions in the Arctic as well in the Antarctic, and instead of showing more data, I thought let's look just at some of the pictures because I had the honor and the privilege of flying on some of these missions. It is just phenomenal flying over, it's 1500 feet, 500 meters, it is really close flying over the ice sheets and sea ice. You fly over glacier and you have mountains left and right. In addition to lasers, we have radars that penetrate the ice, so we can actually measure the ice thickness as well, and then of course, with all the objectivity of a project scientist, in 2017, we launched ICESat-2, which is so cool and so phenomenal, and this is NASA at its best in my opinion, because it is ground breaking technology and ground breaking science. With ICESat-1, we measured the earth every 150 meter, roughly, if you think about football, football seasons are started, basically in the end zones. With ICESat-2, we measure with centimeter precision, every yard line, which is really cool. And it will be a really discovery mission, and in addition to monitoring the ice sheets, we will monitor the height of trees, changes in the land, maybe tectonics, height of the oceans etcetera. It will be a real discovery mission, I am very, very excited about it, and worked very hard. When I was a young scientist, this is my last slide, just ten years ago, I went to Antarctica to measure sea ice thickness. This was then ten years ago, before ICESat-2 launched, the only way we could measure sea ice thickness, it was no other means. We went there and drilled lots and lots and lots of holes. It was great fun of course and we do had some visitors as well, as you could see at the top, what is it from your side, top left, isn't it amazing to just come out and look what we are doing? So, I think NASA does really cool stuff for cryosphere scientists and we have come a long way since ten years ago, when I went down there to take measurements of the ice and with this, I want to give the microphone to Piers Sellers former astronaut and my boss. [Applause] Thanks. So I have to treat Thorsten with a lot of respect because he reminds me of Arnnie Schwarzenegger with a PhD, I don't want to get on wrong side of him. So, okay, the view from orbit really does put things in perspective and as Senator Nelson has seen this with his own eyes, so he knows what I am talking about, I have enjoyed seeing the earth too with my own eyes through a space supervisor, and I am absolutely fascinated by what a satellite instruments can tell us. We, that's NASA and all our friends at NASA, are quite literally conducting a health check of the planet. Okay, so these hands on working scientists have dazzled with facts and data. It's my job, as a grizzled bureaucrat to drag this event over the finish line and let you find your cars. So I will try and be quick. So here are a few closing thoughts. What all of this means for science, for policy makers and for the crew spaceship Earth, that's all of us. Okay, this movie shows you what happens when we combine the satellite data with computer models and use a lot of physics to fill in the gaps between observations. Here we are on the space, this is not a snow storm, these are solar particles blasting by the earth but we are protected by magnetic field. So the particles are diverted. As we come down deeper, and by the way this is a model based on physics and observations so there is fact and mathematics, Isaac Newton is hard at work here, here is the atmospheric flows, again produced by a model, circulation timescales here are on hours to days, so we come a little bit deeper in to the world, We see the surface winds. Now we are looking at the surface, ocean circulation. Ms. Gail said that's forced by heat, wind and salinity, timescales of days and months and years. Deep yet, and now I will talk with the French accent like Jacques Cousteau, the sub surface flows down to the deep ocean circulation, timescales of a thousand years or more. It's beautiful and we get all of this for combining the satellite data with what we understand about nature and putting it in to a computer. This stuff is based on actual reality. Not the Kardashian kind, but let's get back to think about climate. So here is a computer model simulation of the earth's climate system, this is not a picture, this is a simulation. It's a toy world based on physics and propelled by satellite data. I guess when you look at the detail here, the popcorn clouds, the winds, or the planetary scale waves in the atmosphere. The snow, the ice, the biosphere, it's all right there. It's all being calculated and it's all being faithfully reproduced. Now what is this all good for? Well, models have got to the point of providing weather prediction up to 72 hours reliably. You can quite literally bank on it, most days. This is going to be Hurricane Sandy, this is actually a model prediction of Sandy and as you could see the Hurricane wandered around the Atlantic before turning sharply left and whacking New Jersey and New York. But accurate warnings were given out 72 hours ahead of time and many lives and a lot of money was saved as a result of these warnings. By the way, speaking for us, that's not counting all the people up and down the East Coast who did not have to evacuate, because they knew the Hurricane was going to miss them all together, and hat counts for something. Now the exact same physics and many of the same observations that we use for weather are helping us to understand climate better. And these climate models allow us to peer in to the future and will help us make decisions about energy, water and food resources. Okay, this is a simulation of what we think the earth will look like in 20 to 30 years. Actually it's not. It's the picture of the sun, it's being taken by our heliophysical friends using their satellites. Besides being a really cool image, it shows that we are keeping a close eye on the sun, again using satellites and guess what, we have found the sun to be not guilty for the recent warming trend. Now as I said we use the same exact physics and many of the same satellite data to be used in weather models to build and test our climate models. Now what these models do tell us is the rate of warming depends very largely on how much fossil fuel we use and how much carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere. I am now going to show you a graph and it is very bad form for even like this but in compensation it may be the most expensive graph ever made and thats not because of the colors. This cost several years of effort by thousands of scientists worldwide to put it together and it tell us something, we didn't know until only recently. It's something new and something very, very simple. What it says is that the expected rise in temperature is directly, linearly related to the amount of fossil fuel we burn. The X axis of the bottom shows how much fossil fuel we burn which makes the carbon dioxide and the y-axis shows the temperature increase that results from this extra Co2. The zero point is roughly or a bit left to the zero point is roughly when fellow in England in 1700 decided it was time to start an industrial revolution and dug up the first pit of coal. Now, if you look at the black line that ends at 2010, you'll see that we burned about 500 gigatonnes of carbon since then and a gigatonne of carbon is a brick of coal about a kilometer on the side so it is a big piece of coal and that's give us about 1° C rise in global temperature which is what we have seen and that's led to some changes in the world that my good friend I've just shown you. Now we’ll likely to burn 1000 gigatonnes, that's halfway up the graph, that will give us two degree centigrade to two and half centigrade increase in global temperature. We definitely don't want to be up in the top right-hand corner, four degree centigrade. This look like a very different planet than the current Earth that we inhabit and we don't really know what that planet would look like, how it would work, so this is sobering, right? but is it necessary going to be grim and nasty to the maximum? Is this evening going to be a total down of few you all if we don't count the refreshments? I think not and there is some basis for my optimism. Here is a picture of the ozone hole that was discovered in 1979. The blue color shows that ozone is being eaten up by manmade chemicals, many refrigerants. We saw the hole growing rapidly in the 80s and 90s and this was bad news because ozone protects most of life on Earth from strong ultraviolet radiation from the sun and that's bad for you. But here is the good part of the story. Governments all around the world took information seriously. Here is a UN meeting where they are discussing the problem on what to do about it. It modeled on Goddard seminar. Here are all the agreements that they cranked out to reduce the chemicals that cause the problem and here is two of Goddard's finest scientists in the back row providing solid science advice and eating chips, there they are. Alright, and what happen Here is a picture of two worlds; on the left is world that we are likely to see with the ozone depletion leveling off and then slowly reversing and on the right is what would have happened if we didn't have all those controls and agreements and blue here means no ozone which is bad news. On right-hand side is the world we avoided. That's the world with thinning ozone, a world with damage to all living things exposed to sunlight and that includes the crops that provide our food, the ocean plankton that makes our oxygen and damage to us, people. And now a news flash today at four o'clock United Nations released a statement. It reads, the Earth's protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery in the next few decades thanks concerted international action against ozone depleting substances according to a new assessment by 300 scientists. So it can be done, this is proof that people and that's all of us and our political representatives can use solid information, facts, models, like every thing we have seen tonight to make the right decisions. Now sometimes it happens a bit later, and it takes bit longer than we would like but generally the right decisions get made. Now there’s are a lot of people on this planet. This is Christmas 1968 3 billion people on Earth and there they all are, actually we or some of us are, minus three because somebody has to take the photo. Now here is a picture 2013 put together from satellite data. Now there are 7 billion of us plus six on space station and we will top out at about 9 billion this century. But again I think there is reason for optimism here because people are actually part of the solution. Every new human born is not just an extra stress on the world but brings with himself or herself resources and answers. This is an early picture of Len Fisk. So I think, I hope that with the ingenuity, the resourcefulness, the grit that has got the human race so far we can use these vital signs about the health of our planet to figure out how to live long and prosper on this Earth. Now before I close up I'd like to recognize the great work done by the visualization team, Ali Ogden, Wade Sisler, Rani Gran,Horace Mitchell and friends who put all these beautiful pictures together and of course a huge thank you for all speakers and sponsors so put your hand together please. [Applause] [Music] end