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atmospheric profiles

cloud properties

aerosol properties

surface temperature

surface heat fluxes

surface albedo



land surface characteristics


soil moisture

terrestrial CO2 and CH4 flux

river runoff

ice sheet elevation

ice sheet dynamics

snow cover

sea ice concentration

sea ice thickness

sea ice velocity

ocean surface temperature and salinity

sea surface height

ocean productivity and CO2 flux

wildlife habitat and migration


Atmospheric Profiles

Atmospheric profiles depict the vertical variation of quantities such as air temperature, humidity, and wind. Current conventional meteorological data sets (e.g., collections available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center [NSIDC]) generally do not provide adequate spatial and temporal coverage, especially over ocean and sea ice portions of the polar regions. Even so, some first-order analyses of energy and water transports into the Arctic (e.g., Peixoto and Oort, 1992) and Antarctic (e.g., Bromwich et al., 1998; Giovinetto et al., 1992) have been attempted. Satellite-based temperature and humidity profiles are available from NOAA satellites, but there are substantial uncertainties associated with these products. NASA makes little contribution to this area, except in supplying NOAA data to European centers; the major activities are conducted by NOAA's National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), The Laboratoire Meteorologic Dynamique (LMD), and the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forcasting (ECMWF). NASA has also sponsored a re-analysis of the NOAA data sets in the Arctic, which has improved the operational analysis being done by LMD. NASA should ensure that coverage is extended to the south polar regions. Although the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder/Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AIRS/AMSU) may be of some use, NASA's potential contributions are limited unless it sponsors work on advanced, multi-instrument analysis techniques in preparation for Net Primary Production (NPP) and the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and its forerunner, the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP).

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