Letter Report on the Orbiting Carbon Observatory

…from the Committee on Methods for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions; National Research Council…

A National Research Council committee is conducting a study on how well greenhouse gas emissions can be measured for treaty monitoring and verification. The committee’s analysis suggests that NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), which failed on launch in February 2009, would have provided proof of concept for spaceborne technologies to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, as well as baseline emissions data. This letter focuses on the capabilities of an OCO and currently deployed satellites that measure atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and their potential role in monitoring and verifying a greenhouse gas treaty.

India Launches Geoportal

indiaIndia today launched a geoportal which enables the user to easily access information on basic natural resources in the geospatial domain, particularly the Indian images and thematic information in multiple spatial resolutions. The “ Bhuvan” whose beta version was launched by Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Prithviraj Chavan in New Delhi at a function organized by Astronautical Society of India , showcases Indian images by the superimposition of the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS )satellite imageries on 3D globe. Several leading Scientists including Member Planning Commission, Dr. K Kasturirangan, Dr. G Madhavan Nair who is also the Chairman, ISRO/ Secretary, Department of Space, Secretary, DST, Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr Shailesh Nayak, former Chairman of ISRO, Prof. UR Rao, DG IMD, Dr. Ajit Tyagi witnessed the moment which opened the door to graphic visualization of digital geospatial India.

Bhuvan which can be accessed at http://bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in, displays satellite images of varying resolution of India’s surface, allowing users to visually see things like cities and important places of interest looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle, with different perspectives and can navigate through 3D viewing environment. The degree of resolution showcased is based on the points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered up to at least 6 meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters from AWifs Sensor.

Thus, Bhuvan represents, in essence, the whole India on your computer. It enables user to fly from space to street level, to grab, spin and zoom down to any place. One can also use Bhuvan to learn more about geography, and use Bhuvan layers to study natural resources, demographics, and transportation in specific contexts. It provides tools for measuring, drawing, saving, printing and most importantly, for visualizing thematic information.

Which Geospatial Technologies Will 3D GIS Impact ?

v1…from Jeff Thurston at Vector One

“Many geospatial technologies will be impacted by three and four dimensional geographic information systems (3D GIS). Some technologies like global positioning systems (GNSS), remote sensing and laser based technologies will enjoy a thrust forward as new forms of data capture, management, analysis and representation are supported through thinking about applications in 3D. Visualisation will be significantly impacted because 3D and 4D analysis will propell new representations into the limelight. We are truly entering a new phase of exploration and discovery in the geospatial sector.”

Visualization of Thermal Pollution from a Nuclear Plant

This video animates a series of thermal infrared LANDSAT images that visualize what a year of thermal pollution from Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station looks like. The pink represents temperatures above ambient levels. The imagery was provided by the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis at Rutgers University, and was produced by the Environmental Health Clinic.

Large Trees Declining in Yosemite

Large trees have declined in Yosemite National Park during the 20th century, and warmer climate conditions may play a role.

The number of large-diameter trees in the park declined 24 percent between the 1930s and 1990s. U.S. Geological Survey and University of Washington scientists compared the earliest records of large-diameter trees densities from 1932–1936 to the most recent records from 1988–1999.

A decline in large trees means habitat loss and possible reduction in species such as spotted owls, mosses, orchids and fishers (a carnivore related to weasels). Fewer new trees will grow in the landscape because large trees are a seed source for the surrounding landscape. Large-diameter trees generally resist fire more than small-diameter trees, so fewer large trees could also slow forest regeneration after fires.

“Although this study did not investigate the causes of decline, climate change is a likely contributor to these events and should be taken into consideration,” said USGS scientist emeritus Jan van Wagtendonk. “Warmer conditions increase the length of the summer dry season and decrease the snowpack that provides much of the water for the growing season. A longer summer dry season can also reduce tree growth and vigor, and can reduce trees’ ability to resist insects and pathogens.”

Scientists also found a shift to fire-intolerant trees in some forests that had not experienced fires for nearly a century. In these areas, trees changed from fire-tolerant ponderosa pines to fire-intolerant white fir and incense cedar. In burned areas, however, pines remained dominant.

“We should be aware that more frequent and severe wildfires are possible in Yosemite because of the recent shift to fire-intolerant trees in unburned areas and warmer climates bring drier conditions,” said van Wagtendonk.

This research was published in Forest Ecology and Management and can be found online (PDF).