2010-02-15

The Satellite that Could Save the World

The media missed the real story about the so-called “climate-gate” scandal.

After thousands of emails were mysteriously stolen from the University of East Anglia and distributed just before the climate conference in Copenhagen, many news outlets seemed content to report the story as it was presented to them rather than bothering to read the emails in the context they were written.

A closer look at these candid messages reveals a very different problem than the supposed scientific conspiracy theory that’s been in high rotation in the media. This previously unreported story also shows why launching the long-mothballed Deep Space Climate Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is more urgent now than ever.

Lets start with perhaps the most widely distributed and misunderstood of the stolen emails, of October 12, 2009 from Dr. Keith Trenberth to Michael Mann, which reads:

The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.

Out of more than a thousand emails dating back 13 years, this single sentence was seized on by some commentators as evidence that decades of climate research by hundreds of scientists is instead a global conspiracy.

If you are going to put that much weight on a single email, you may as well finish reading it. Here’s what Trenberth says in the following sentence:

The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Allow me to translate this dense jargon into English. CERES stands for Clouds and the Earth s Radiant Energy System – a five-satellite network launched by NASA dating back to 1997 to monitor heat flow in the upper atmosphere.

The story you haven’t heard is that scientists can’t get the numbers to add up using existing climate satellites. After billions of research dollars spent and over a decade of trying, the energy budget of planet as measured by CERES and other low- Earth orbit satellite systems is out of whack by about 6 watts per square meter.

That stubborn error in the satellite data is about six times larger than what is scientifically possible, and several times larger than the effect scientists are trying to see, namely planetary warming caused by continued massive emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

While this is a very big deal, it does NOT remotely suggest that climate change is a hoax. For evidence of that, you don’t need a satellite, you can look out your kitchen window.

Sea ice is disappearing from the arctic so fast it could be gone forever in as little as 30 years. The Met Office predicts 2010 may be the hottest year on record and that this decade was the hottest ever “by far”. Australia is currently enduring the hottest six months since record keeping began in the 1800’s.

What Trenberth is saying in this now infamous email is that it is a “travesty” that scientists cannot accurately measure from space what is plainly obvious here on Earth. More than that, he is lamenting that our “observing system” is inadequate to be able to accurately balance the planet’s energy budget.

Dr. Trenberth is one of the world’s most respected climate researchers. To hear him directly explain this problem himself, have a look at this video. If you happen to have a PhD in atmospheric physics (or just have trouble sleeping) you may also want to read his thorough research paper on the topic.

It’s not that the CERES experiment is a bad project or staffed by incompetent people. But the fact of the matter is that our satellite systems have failed to provide coherent data to explain the defining issue of the 21st century. This important but esoteric problem is largely unknown to the public, but widely acknowledged within the scientific community.

So what’s the problem with the data? In science, such unexplained phenomena are not a “problem” – they are the most interesting things to look at. They reveal clues about things we don’t yet fully understand, or hint that long-accepted methods of measurement need to be reassessed.

Which brings us back to the limitations of CERES and other low Earth orbit instruments. These satellites are traveling at more than seven kilometers a second and see our planet in thin strips as narrow as ten kilometers wide. Most take about 24 hours to get back where they started.
From this vantage it is like trying to map an elephant using a microscope. By the time you look at the same spot twice, the Earth (and the elephant) is doing something else.

There are far better instruments for observing elephants: Binoculars.

The long-mothballed DSCOVR spacecraft, still languishing in clean storage here on Earth, is just such an instrument. Rather than seeing the planet from hundreds of kilometers away, DSCOVR was designed to track our orbit around the Sun from 1.5 million kilometers away.

From a unique gravitational dimple called “L1”, the spacecraft would continuously monitor the entire sunlit disc of our planet, providing an entirely new way of collecting data on the Earth’s energy budget. This coincident data would compliment and calibrate more detailed measurements from CERES and other satellites that observe the Earth from much closer.

Yet of the $160 billion given to NASA from the US taxpayer since DSCOVR was built in 2000, they have stubbornly maintained that launching this already fully completed spacecraft is either too expensive or simply not important. 

For the record, the most inflated estimate to launch and operate DSCOVR of $250 million would represent 0.15% of that public largesse. In fact, the true cost to NASA to operate DSCOVR for seven years is likely less than $50 million due to cost sharing opportunities with other agencies, and use of cheaper launch vehicles such as a SpaceX rocket.

The reasons for NASA's apparent resistance to exploring new methods of Earth observation probably have more to do with internal bureaucratic inertia than anything else. As they say, old dogs have a hard time learning new tricks and NASA has being doing low Earth orbit for more than forty years. 

They recently committed a further $1 billion on a low Earth orbit replacement to CERES called CLARREO that won't be launched until at least 2016. Whether or not this experiment will finally make the numbers add up remains to be seen, and the results will not be known for another six years at the earliest.

In the meantime, climate change proceeds apace, "skeptics" make specious arguments using glaring errors in the satellite data, and DSCOVR dozes in its storage box here on Earth waiting for 1/20th of the money required for a re-do the failed CERES experiment.

If there is a bright side to the sinister theft of thousands of emails just before the Copenhagen Conference, it is that we can now start to have a more intelligent conversation on the glaring discrepancies in our Earth observation instruments.

And lets not be too hard on NASA. After eight years of George Bush in the Whitehouse and billions diverted from worthwhile science towards inter-planetary photo ops like the manned mission to Mars, the space agency is understandably just now picking up the pieces.

The fabulously expensive (and scientifically useless) International Space Station will also have funneled off $140 billion in scarce research dollars when it finally plunges into the ocean in 2016. 

These outside political pressures forced NASA to drop so many Earth-observing missions that by 2006 leading scientists were warning our climate monitoring system was “at risk of collapse”. Four years later, the public was granted a rare glimpse of the frustration within the scientific community in Trenberth’s now famously misinterpreted message.

What about the stolen emails and global conspiracy theories? I suggest a more plausible alternative: 
 The next time the media encounters a such an obvious stick being thrown for them, maybe they should instead chase the mysterious person doing the throwing.
As for DSCOVR, it is interesting that an experiment that could help resolve glaring uncertainties abound this century’s defining issue has somehow never been launched.

For some powerful interests far beyond NASA, continued uncertainty can be a very valuable commodity. To quote a notorious leaked strategy document from Big Tobacco when they were seeking to delay costly regulation of their dangerous industry in the 1960’s: “doubt is our product.”

31 comments:

精采 said...

能付出愛心就是福;能消除煩惱就是慧。........................................

佳瑩佳瑩 said...

wonderful...................................................

佩昭彥怡 said...

少壯不努力,老大徒傷悲。......................................................

鈺禎 said...

t 台灣藝術台辣妹有約 辣妹情色視訊 辣妹性感 辣妹影音聊天網 聊天室環球辣妹34c聊天室 辣妹亞洲成人圖片區 辣妹有約溫泉 辣妹性愛文學 辣妹哈啦聊天室 辣妹貼圖a片天堂 辣妹自拍偷拍 辣妹聊天室 90691比基尼辣妹影片 超性感辣妹 視訊情人辣妹080 視訊辣妹援交女 視訊辣妹援交 視訊辣妹自慰 視訊辣妹34c甜心寶貝直播貼片 視訊辣妹080 視訊辣妹,成人,嘉義視訊 aio性感辣妹34c甜心寶貝貼片 aio辣妹交友愛情館 aaio辣妹視訊 比基尼av辣妹影片 辣妹聊天室90691 辣妹影音 辣妹貼圖站 本土美少女辣妹貼圖 辣妹有約綜藝節目 辣妹貼圖站 辣妹情色網 情色視訊交友辣妹no3 性感辣妹交友 脫衣亞洲辣妹 玩美辣妹有約 環球辣妹聊天室 視訊辣妹34c 辣妹妹影音視訊聊天室 兼職援交友辣妹視訊 高雄辣妹視訊 桃園辣妹視訊 台北辣妹視訊 台中辣妹視訊 名模辣妹聊天室 885cc 85cc成人片試看 85cc女 85cc免費影城85cc免費影城 85cc免費影片觀賞 85cc免費影片短片 85cc自拍 85cc無碼影 85cc 亞洲短片 a交友愛情館影片免費85cc

W1219estonMitcham said...

how do u do?................................................................

宛蓉 said...

很喜歡你的blog哦...加油唷 ........................................

玄雨 said...

thank you for you to make me learn more,thank you∩0∩ ........................................

韋于倫成 said...

Make yourself necessary to someone.........................................

M12aeganT_Moe12 said...

黑色豪門企業綜合娛樂論壇 ez洪爺的家 嘟嘟情人色網dvd hot辣妺視訊網 限制性漫畫 一夜情人視訊 av1688大天使娛樂網 bt成人網 go2av成人聊天室 免費a長片線上看,女優影片 無碼 av影片 美眉 美女 聊天室 遊戲區 18成人http 17hi tw 情色聊天 百分百貼圖區亞洲avdvd 免費視訊聊天mm17i 情色a片 88天下淫書,少年阿賓系列小說,中文情色文學小說 0401線上影城 視訊做愛 杜蕾斯成人 亞洲辣妹妹影音視訊聊天室 美女聊天室 麗的情色小遊戲 韓劇人妻的秘密85cc影城 playboy國際中文網 免費影音視訊hibb 6k情人網暗戀視訊 免費視訊4h 無碼av女優微風成人區 甜心寶貝直播貼片aio交友愛情館 xvediox免費影片 視訊交友520show net 視訊美女聊天 kk 台灣kiss911h影片線上a片 aaaa 片俱樂部 2girl女子拉拉學園 av168成人網 辣妹影片直播台南援交友留言 omyga美色女影城 go2av免費影片情色 網站 ut聊天室kww 情人視訊高雄網 性行為補給站 後宮視訊聊天網 網愛mmshow 主播情人視訊情色交友 104愛戀速配網 視訊美女聊天室 免費色咪咪影片網 兼職援交 影音視訊聊天室dudu sex

HaroldM22 said...

說「吃虧就是便宜的人」,多半不是吃虧的人。 ............................................................

renew said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。..................................................

歐英傑 said...

女傭調教 女生自衛 夫妻交換 大腿內側 夜未眠成 嘟嘟情人 嘟嘟圖片 同志色教 吉澤明步 台中夜店 台北夜店 台灣同志 台灣ki 出包王女 凹凸電影 凌虐俠女 免費女同 免費女傭 免費圖片 免費同志 免費動畫 免費黃色 免費貼影 免費色片 免費dv 免費線上 -qq美美 jp素人 h文小說 辣媽寫真 辣媽哺乳 黃色珍藏 麗的線上 貼圖片區 高雄夜店 視訊kk 西洋美女 電影線上 阿賓小說 阿賓色慾 蓬萊仙山 色片直播 美女自衛 美國色片 美美色網 線上收看 線上動畫 素人寫真 素人大全 短片線上

玉龍玉龍 said...

I guess I will need a lot..................................................

茹順茹順 said...

知識可以傳授,智慧卻不行。每個人必須成為他自己。.................................................................

江婷 said...

Poverty tries friends.................................................................

倩亮倩亮 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

PearleY建佑 said...

還是喜歡這裡-支持你..................................................................

JasonBirk佳琪 said...

什麼樣的學習計畫並不重要,重要的是你是什麼樣的人。............................................................

添d卉王賴uou珮甄賴賴 said...

喜歡看大家的文章,每篇都是一個故事,都是一種心情~~祝大家開心愉快............................................................

黃威宇 said...

一棵樹除非在春天開了花,否則難望在秋天結果。..................................................

芸茂芸茂 said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

承蘋承蘋 said...

這個時代,不缺乏感傷,但缺乏反思~~希望能多看到值得思考的文章!..................................................

佳瑩佳瑩 said...

好文章給我好心情,謝謝分享~~............................................................

姿弘綸穎 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債.................................................................

惠慧萍婷 said...

一時的錯誤不算什麼,錯而不改才是一生中永遠且最大的錯誤..................................................

張黃柏亞武茜 said...

Lets cross the bridge when we come to it............................................................

建鄭勳建鄭勳 said...

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person...................................................................

張韓涵旺建宇 said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.......................................................................

阿袁袁袁袁華 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

木詹詹詹詹詹行詹詹 said...

路過留言支持~~~..................................................

牧宇 said...

文章雖然普通,但意義卻很大~~^^~~ ..................................................