Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NASA -secret life of clouds

Event:The Secret Life of Clouds:
New Findings From NASA's CloudSat and A-Train

A little more than a year and a half into its primary mission, NASA's CloudSat satellite, working in tandem with the other Earth-observing satellites in NASA's "A-Train," is now yielding a treasure trove of new data that are helping scientists better understand the enormous influence clouds have on Earth's weather, climate and energy balance. Researchers present results that include discovery of a link between observed decreases in polar clouds last summer and a corresponding loss of Arctic sea ice; surprising new global estimates of how frequently clouds rain over Earth's oceans that suggest the need to reassess the intensity of Earth's water cycle and its impact on climate models; and the first global evidence that the small aerosol particles in our atmosphere may be polluting clouds, making them more reflective.

Related Links:

> CloudSat/CALIPSO Launch Press Kit 1.9 Mb (PDF)
> Pre-Launch Audio Clips
> CloudSat Fact Sheet (437Kb - PDF)
> Science Writers' Guide: CALIPSO, CloudSat, GRACE (2.6Mb - PDF)
> Aerosols: More Than Meets the Eye (951Kb - PDF)
> The Importance of Understanding Clouds (449Kb - PDF)
> The Balance of Power in the Earth-Sun System (605Kb - PDF)

NASA Satellite Reveals Unprecedented View of Mysterious
'Night-Shining' Clouds
Cynthia O'Carroll / Bill Steigerwald
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Release No. 07-75

GREENBELT, Md. - NASA's AIM satellite has provided the first global-scale, full-season view of iridescent polar clouds that form 50 miles above Earth’s surface.

The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission is the first satellite dedicated to the study of these noctilucent or "night-shining" clouds. They are called "night shining" clouds by observers on the ground because their high altitude allows them to continue reflecting sunlight after the sun has set below the horizon. AIM has provided the first global-scale view of the clouds over the entire 2007 Northern Hemisphere season with an unprecedented horizontal resolution of 3 miles by 3 miles.

Very little is known about these 'clouds at the edge of space', also called Polar Mesospheric Clouds. How do they form over the summer poles, why are they being seen at lower latitudes than ever before, and why have they been growing brighter and more frequent? During its mission lifetime, AIM will observe a total of two complete polar mesospheric cloud seasons in each polar region, documenting for the first time the entire complex life cycle of Polar Mesospheric Clouds.

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