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The report reviews NASA's solid-earth science strategy, placing particular emphasis on observational strategies for measuring surface deformation, high-resolution topography, surface properties, and the variability of the earth’s magnetic and gravity fields. The report found that NASA is uniquely positioned to implement these observational strategies and that a number of agency programs would benefit from the resulting data. In particular, the report strongly endorses the near-term launch of a satellite dedicated to L-band InSAR measurements of the land surface, which is a key component of the U.S. Geological Survey’s hazards mitigation program and the multi-agency EarthScope program.
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Additional Information

Publisher
National Academies Press
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Published on
Sep 13, 2004
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Pages
56
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ISBN
9780309165716
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Earth Sciences / Geography
Science / Space Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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There is little dispute within the scientific community that humans are changing Earth's climate on a decadal to century time-scale. By the end of this century, without a reduction in emissions, atmospheric CO2 is projected to increase to levels that Earth has not experienced for more than 30 million years. As greenhouse gas emissions propel Earth toward a warmer climate state, an improved understanding of climate dynamics in warm environments is needed to inform public policy decisions. In Understanding Earth's Deep Past, the National Research Council reports that rocks and sediments that are millions of years old hold clues to how the Earth's future climate would respond in an environment with high levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Understanding Earth's Deep Past provides an assessment of both the demonstrated and underdeveloped potential of the deep-time geologic record to inform us about the dynamics of the global climate system. The report describes past climate changes, and discusses potential impacts of high levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases on regional climates, water resources, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and the cycling of life-sustaining elements. While revealing gaps in scientific knowledge of past climate states, the report highlights a range of high priority research issues with potential for major advances in the scientific understanding of climate processes. This proposed integrated, deep-time climate research program would study how climate responded over Earth's different climate states, examine how climate responds to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and clarify the processes that lead to anomalously warm polar and tropical regions and the impact on marine and terrestrial life.

In addition to outlining a research agenda, Understanding Earth's Deep Past proposes an implementation strategy that will be an invaluable resource to decision-makers in the field, as well as the research community, advocacy organizations, government agencies, and college professors and students.


As climate change has pushed climate patterns outside of historic norms, the need for detailed projections is growing across all sectors, including agriculture, insurance, and emergency preparedness planning. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling emphasizes the needs for climate models to evolve substantially in order to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers, this report finds. Despite much recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse U.S. climate modeling community. Evolving to a more unified climate modeling enterprise-in particular by developing a common software infrastructure shared by all climate researchers and holding an annual climate modeling forum-could help speed progress.

Throughout this report, several recommendations and guidelines are outlined to accelerate progress in climate modeling. The U.S. supports several climate models, each conceptually similar but with components assembled with slightly different software and data output standards. If all U.S. climate models employed a single software system, it could simplify testing and migration to new computing hardware, and allow scientists to compare and interchange climate model components, such as land surface or ocean models. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling recommends an annual U.S. climate modeling forum be held to help bring the nation's diverse modeling communities together with the users of climate data. This would provide climate model data users with an opportunity to learn more about the strengths and limitations of models and provide input to modelers on their needs and provide a venue for discussions of priorities for the national modeling enterprise, and bring disparate climate science communities together to design common modeling experiments.

In addition, A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling explains that U.S. climate modelers will need to address an expanding breadth of scientific problems while striving to make predictions and projections more accurate. Progress toward this goal can be made through a combination of increasing model resolution, advances in observations, improved model physics, and more complete representations of the Earth system. To address the computing needs of the climate modeling community, the report suggests a two-pronged approach that involves the continued use and upgrading of existing climate-dedicated computing resources at modeling centers, together with research on how to effectively exploit the more complex computer hardware systems expected over the next 10 to 20 years.
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