December 4, 2013
NASA Releases New Climate App
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
NASA recently announced the release of a new iPad app, called “Images of Change,” that allows users to see how a changing climate and natural disasters are altering the face of the Earth.
Using sets of images from around the world with a focus on places that have changed dramatically, the new app shows how a disaster, such as a fire or tsunami, or human activities, such as agriculture or urbanization, have affected the appearance of the land. The app also shows some specific impacts of events thought to be driven by climate change, such as persistent drought and glacier loss.
"Images of Change gives users an astronaut's or Earth explorer's view of the changes occurring on our planet and demonstrates the important role NASA plays in contributing to the long-term understanding of Earth," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington, DC. "By utilizing ground-based and space-based observation systems, we are able to better understand how humans are contributing to a changing world."
The app makes NASA resources, images and interactive tools available to users. The image gallery includes satellite pictures, as well as photos taken at ground level. Users can view ‘before’ and ‘after’ images side-by-side or overlaid on top of each other. The image pairs include background information on what is being shown and where on Earth the photos were taken.
"The Images of Change gallery is one of the more popular parts of the Global Climate Change website," said Amber Jenkins, editor of the website at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The gallery project, which began in 2009, helps people see just how our planet is changing over days, months, years and centuries.
“Seeing is believing, and the perspective we get from space helps us step back and see Earth as a whole,” she added.
The new, climate-focused app was released just a day after long-time NASA climate change expert James Hansen called for new strategies to halt global warming, adding that current standards and methods are inadequate.
In a paper published in the open access journal PLOS One entitled “Assessing Dangerous Climate Change: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature,” Hansen and a team of colleagues challenged researchers, officials and world leaders to pursue more active attempts to reinstate the energy balance and stability of Earth’s global ecosystem.
“Although there is merit in simply chronicling what is happening, there is still opportunity for humanity to exercise free will. Thus our objective is to define what the science indicates is needed,” stated Hansen, former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.
Damian Pattinson, editorial director of PLOS One, called for researchers to follow-up Hansen’s paper with papers of their own regarding a response to climate change.
“Our hope is to generate a wide range of submissions on climate research and in particular papers that address solutions to the challenges posed by a changing climate, such as alternative energy development, environmental preservation, the problems of acidification, adaptation strategies and restoration of failing ecosystems,” Pattinson said.