Transcripts of NASM-Dr

[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 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 n 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] [Applause]