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Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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Excerpts from the Report Summary

THRIVING ON OUR CHANGING PLANET: A DECADAL STRATEGY FOR EARTH OBSERVATION FROM SPACE

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The committee conducted its work in close collaboration with the five decadal survey study panels, each interdisciplinary and together spanning all of the disciplines associated with Earth system science. The survey process is summarized in the figure above. It was designed to converge—from a large number of community-provided possibilities (via responses to survey-issued “Requests for Information,” or RFIs)—to a final, small set of Science and Applications Priorities and Observing System Priorities that are required to address the nation’s Earth science and applications needs. This process assumed that the existing and planned instruments in the Program of Record are implemented as expected.

ESTABLISHING SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS PRIORITIES

Starting from an initial set of 290 community-submitted ideas, the committee, working with the five interdisciplinary panels, narrowed this large set of ideas to a set of 35 key Earth science and applications questions to be addressed over the next decade. Together, these questions comprehensively address those areas for which advances are most needed in both curiosity-driven and practically focused Earth science and the corresponding practical uses of Earth information. To identify the observational capabilities required to answer these questions, the committee then defined a set of underlying science and applications objectives, evaluating and assigning each to one of three prioritization categories: most important (MI), very important (VI), and important (I). This process informed the committee’s Recommendation 3.1 that NASA, NOAA, and USGS pursue the key science and applications questions summarized in Table S.1 (and described in more detail in the body of the report; Table 3.2 is a complete version of Table S.1). These questions address the central science and applications priorities for the coming decade.

Recommendation 3.1: NASA, NOAA, and USGS, working in coordination, according to their appropriate roles and recognizing their agency mission and priorities, should implement an integrated programmatic approach to advancing Earth science and applications that is based on the questions and objectives listed in Table 3.2, ’“Science and Applications Priorities for the Decade 2017-2027.”

Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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By pursuing these priorities, important advances will be made in areas that are both scientifically challenging and of direct impact to how we live. A major component of the committee’s observing program recommendations is a commitment to a set of observation capabilities, outlined in the next section, that will enable substantial progress in all of the following science and applications areas:

  • Providing critical information on the make-up and distribution of aerosols and clouds, which in turn improve predictions of future climate conditions and help us assess the impacts of aerosols on human health;
  • Addressing key questions about how changing cloud cover and precipitation will affect climate, weather, and Earth’s energy balance in the future, advancing understanding of the movement of air and energy in the atmosphere and its impact on weather, precipitation, and severe storms;
  • Determining the extent to which the shrinking of glaciers and ice sheets, and their contributions to sea-level rise, is accelerating, decelerating, or remaining unchanged;
  • Quantifying trends in water stored on land (e.g., in aquifers) and the implications for issues such as water availability for human consumption and irrigation;
  • Understanding alterations to surface characteristics and landscapes (e.g., snow cover, snow melt, landslides, earthquakes, eruptions, urbanization, land-cover and land use) and the implications for applications such as risk management and resource management;
  • Assessing the evolving characteristics and health of terrestrial vegetation and aquatic ecosystems, which is important for understanding key consequences such as crop yields, carbon uptake, and biodiversity; and
  • Examining movement of land and ice surfaces to determine, in the case of ice, the likelihood of rapid ice loss and significantly accelerated rates of sea-level rise, and in the case of land, changes in strain rates that impact and provide critical insights into earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tectonic plate deformation.
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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In addition, the committee is proposing competitive observational opportunities, also outlined in the next section, to address at least three of the following science and applications areas:

  • Understanding the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and methane and the processes that will affect their concentrations in the future;
  • Understanding glacier and ice sheet contributions to rates of sea-level rise and how they are likely to impact sea-level rise in the future;
  • Improving understanding of ocean circulation, the exchanges between the ocean and atmosphere, and their impacts on weather and climate;
  • Assessing changes in ozone and other gases and the associated implications for human health, air quality, and climate;
  • Determining the amount and melt rates of snow and the associated implications for water resources, weather, climate, flooding, drought, etc.;
  • Quantifying biomass and characterizing ecosystem structure to assess carbon uptake from the atmosphere and changes in land cover and to support resource management; and
  • Providing critical insights into the transport of pollutants, wind energy, cloud processes, and how energy moves between the land or ocean surfaces and the atmosphere.

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The recommended program will advance scientific knowledge in areas that are ripe for discovery and that have direct impact on the way we live today. The knowledge developed in the coming decade, through this science, holds great promise for informing actions and investments for a successful future.

Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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TABLE S.1 Science and Applications Priorities for the Decade 2017-2027

Science and Applications Area Science and Applications Questions
Addressed by MOST IMPORTANT Objectives
Coupling of the Water and Energy Cycles (H-1) How is the water cycle changing? Are changes in evapotranspiration and precipitation accelerating, with greater rates of evapotranspiration and thereby precipitation, and how are these changes expressed in the space-time distribution of rainfall, snowfall, evapotranspiration, and the frequency and magnitude of extremes such as droughts and floods?
(H-2) How do anthropogenic changes in climate, land use, water use, and water storage interact and modify the water and energy cycles locally, regionally and globally and what are the short- and long-term consequences?
Ecosystem Change (E-1) What are the structure, function, and biodiversity of Earth’s ecosystems, and how and why are they changing in time and space?
(E-2) What are the fluxes (of carbon, water, nutrients, and energy) between ecosystems and the atmosphere, the ocean and the solid Earth, and how and why are they changing?
(E-3) What are the fluxes (of carbon, water, nutrients, and energy) within ecosystems, and how and why are they changing?
Extending and Improving Weather and Air Quality Forecasts (W-1) What planetary boundary layer (PBL) processes are integral to the air-surface (land, ocean and sea ice) exchanges of energy, momentum and mass, and how do these impact weather forecasts and air quality simulations?
(W-2) How can environmental predictions of weather and air quality be extended to forecast Earth System conditions at lead times of 1 week to 2 months?
(W-4) Why do convective storms, heavy precipitation, and clouds occur exactly when and where they do?
(W-5) What processes determine the spatio-temporal structure of important air pollutants and their concomitant adverse impact on human health, agriculture, and ecosystems?
Reducing Climate Uncertainty and Informing Societal Response (C-2) How can we reduce the uncertainty in the amount of future warming of the Earth as a function of fossil fuel emissions, improve our ability to predict local and regional climate response to natural and anthropogenic forcings, and reduce the uncertainty in global climate sensitivity that drives uncertainty in future economic impacts and mitigation/adaptation strategies?
Sea Level Rise (C-1) How much will sea level rise, globally and regionally, over the next decade and beyond, and what will be the role of ice sheets and ocean heat storage?
(S-3) How will local sea level change along coastlines around the world in the next decade to century?
Surface Dynamics, Geological Hazards and Disasters (S-1) How can large-scale geological hazards be accurately forecasted and eventually predicted in a socially relevant timeframe?
(S-2) How do geological disasters directly impact the Earth system and society following an event?
(S-4) What processes and interactions determine the rates of landscape change?
VERY IMPORTANT (summarized) IMPORTANT (summarized)
(H-4) Influence of water cycle on natural hazards and preparedness
(W-3) Influence of Earth surface variations on weather and air quality
(C-3) Impacts of carbon cycle variations on climate and ecosystems
(C-4) Earth system response to air-sea interactions
(H-3) Fresh water availability and impacts on ecosystems/society
(W-6) Long-term air pollution trends and impacts
(W-7) Processes influencing tropospheric ozone and its atmospheric impacts
(W-8) Methane variations and impacts on tropospheric composition and chemistry
(W-9) Cloud microphysical property dependence on aerosols and precipitation
VERY IMPORTANT (summarized) IMPORTANT (summarized)
(C-5) Impact of aerosols on global warming
(C-6) Improving seasonal to decadal climate forecasts
(C-7) Changes in decadal scale atmospheric/ocean circulation and impacts
(C-8) Consequence of amplified polar climate change on Earth system
(S-5) How energy flows from the core to Earth’s surface
(S-6) Impact of deep underground water on geologic processes and water supplies
(W-10) Cloud impacts on radiative forcing and weather predictability
(E-4) Quantifying carbon sinks and their changes
(E-5) Stability of carbon sinks
(C-9) Impacts of ozone layer change
(S-7) Improving discovery of energy, mineral, and soil resources

NOTE: The highest-priority questions (defined as those associated with “most important” objectives) are listed in full; other questions associated with “very important” or “important” objectives are briefly summarized. No further priority is assumed within categories, and the topics are listed alphabetically. Letter and number combinations in parenthesis refer to the panel (H = “Hydrology,” W = “Weather,” E = “Ecosystems,” C = “Climate,” S = “Solid Earth”) and numbering of each panel’s questions. Complete versions of this table are provided in Table 3.3 2 and Appendix B.

Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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TABLE S.2 Observing System Priorities (see note following table for description)

Targeted Observable Science/Applications Summary Candidate Measurement Approach Designated Explorer Incubation
Aerosols Aerosol properties, aerosol vertical profiles, and cloud properties to understand their effects on climate and air quality Backscatter lidar and multichannel/multiangle/polarization imaging radiometer flown together on the same platform X
Clouds, Convection, and Precipitation Coupled cloud-precipitation state and dynamics for monitoring global hydrological cycle and understanding contributing processes including cloud feedback Dual-frequency radar, with multifrequency passive microwave and sub-mm radiometer X
Mass Change Large-scale Earth dynamics measured by the changing mass distribution within and between the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, groundwater, and ice sheets Spacecraft ranging measurement of gravity anomaly X
Surface Biology and Geology Earth surface geology and biology, ground/water temperature, snow reflectivity, active geologic processes, vegetation traits, and algal biomass Hyperspectral imagery in the visible and shortwave infrared (IR), multi- or hyperspectral imagery in the thermal IR X
Surface Deformation and Change Earth surface dynamics from earthquakes and landslides to ice sheets and permafrost Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) with ionospheric correction X
Greenhouse Gases CO2 and methane fluxes and trends, global and regional with quantification of point sources and identification of sources and sinks Multispectral shortwave IR and thermal IR sounders; or lidar* X
Ice Elevation Global ice characterization including elevation change of land ice to assess sea-level contributions and freeboard height of sea ice to assess sea ice/ocean/atmosphere interaction Lidar* X
Ocean Surface Winds and Currents Coincident high-accuracy currents and vector winds to assess air-sea momentum exchange and to infer upwelling, upper ocean mixing, and sea-ice drift Doppler scatterometer X
Ozone and Trace Gases Vertical profiles of ozone and trace gases (including water vapor, CO, NO2, methane, and N2O) globally and with high spatial resolution UV/VIS/IR microwave limb/nadir sounding and UV/VIS/IR solar/stellar occultation X
Snow Depth and Snow Water Equivalent Snow depth and snow water equivalent, including high spatial resolution in mountain areas Radar (Ka/Ku band) altimeter; or lidar* X
Terrestrial Ecosystem Structure 3D structure of terrestrial ecosystem including forest canopy and aboveground biomass and changes in aboveground carbon stock from processes such as deforestation and forest degradation Lidar* X
Atmospheric Winds 3D winds in troposphere/planetary boundary layer (PBL) for transport of pollutants/carbon/aerosol and water vapor, wind energy, cloud dynamics and convection, and large-scale circulation Active sensing (lidar, radar, scatterometer); or passive imagery or radiometry-based atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) tracking; or lidar* X X
Planetary Boundary Layer Diurnal 3D PBL thermodynamic properties and 2D PBL structure to understand the impact of PBL processes on weather and air quality through high vertical and temporal profiling of PBL temperature, moisture, and heights Microwave, hyperspectral IR sounder(s) (e.g., in geo or small sat constellation), GPS radio occultation for diurnal PBL temperature and humidity and heights; water vapor profiling DIAL lidar; and lidar* for PBL height X
Surface Topography and Vegetation High-resolution global topography, including bare surface land topography, ice topography, vegetation structure, and shallow water bathymetry Radar; or lidar* X
* Could potentially be addressed by a multifunction lidar designed to address two or more of the Targeted Observables
Other ESAS 2017 Targeted Observables, Not Allocated to a Flight Program Element
Aquatic-Coastal Biogeochemistry Radiance Inter-calibration Surface Water Height
Magnetic Field Changes Salinity
Ocean Ecosystem Structure Soil Moisture

NOTE: Observations (Targeted Observables) identified by the steering committee as needed in the coming decade, beyond what is in the Program of Record, allocated as noted in the last three columns (and color-coded) to three new NASA flight program elements (Designated, Earth System Explorer, Incubation; as defined in the accompanying text). Within categories, the targeted observables are listed alphabetically. Targeted Observables included in the original priority consideration but not allocated to a program element are listed at the bottom of the table (see Appendix C for a complete summary).

Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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IMPLEMENTING AN INNOVATIVE OBSERVING PROGRAM

Addressing the committee’s priority science and applications questions requires an ongoing commitment to existing and planned instruments and satellites in the Program of Record. The committee’s recommended observing program builds from this, filling gaps in the POR where observations are needed to address the key science and applications objectives for the coming decade. This observing program is summarized in Table S.2 (same as Table 3.3) and in the accompanying Recommendation 3.2. Most observables are allocated to two new NASA flight program elements: a committed group of observations termed Designated, along with a competed group termed Earth System Explorer. Within these two new flight program elements, eight of the priority observation needs from Table S.2 are expected to be implemented as instruments, instrument suites, or missions. In addition, several observables are assigned to a new program element called Incubation, intended to accelerate readiness of high-priority observables not yet feasible for cost-effective flight implementation. Finally, an expansion of the Venture program is proposed for competed small missions to add a focus on continuity-driven observations. Together, these new program elements complement existing NASA flight program elements such as the Venture program.

The foundational observations in Table S.2—the five shown in the “Designated” column that are recommended specifically by the committee for implementation, and the three to be competitively selected from among the identified set of seven “Earth System Explorer” candidates—augment the existing POR and ensure that the survey’s 35 priority science and applications questions can be effectively addressed, to the extent that resources allow. In keeping with the study’s statement of task, specific missions and instruments were not identified, ensuring that the sponsoring agencies will have discretion for identifying the most cost-effective and appropriate space-based approaches to implementing the recommended set of observations. Each of the new NASA flight program elements promises innovative means for using competition and other programmatic tools to increase the cadence and quality of flight programs, while optimizing cost and risk.

Recommendation 3.2: NASA should implement a set of space-based observation capabilities based on this report’s proposed program (which was designed to be affordable, comprehensive, robust, and balanced) by implementing its portion of the Program of Record and adding observations described in Table 3.3, “Observing System Priorities.” The implemented program should be guided by the budgetary considerations and decision rules contained in this report and accomplished through five distinct program elements:

  1. Program of Record. The series of existing or previously planned observations, which must be completed as planned. Execution of the ESAS 2017 recommendation requires that the total cost to NASA of the Program of Record flight missions from fiscal year (FY) 2018-FY 2027—October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2027—be capped at $3.6 billion.
  2. Designated. A program element for ESAS-designated cost-capped medium- and large-size missions to address observables essential to the overall program, directed or competed at the discretion of NASA.
  3. Earth System Explorer. A new program element involving competitive opportunities for cost-capped medium-size instruments and missions serving specified ESAS-priority observations.
  4. Incubation. A new program element, focused on investment for priority observation capabilities needing advancement prior to cost-effective implementation, including an innovation fund to respond to emerging needs.
  5. Earth Venture. Earth Venture program element, as recommended in ESAS 2007, with the addition of a new Venture-continuity component to provide opportunity for low-cost sustained observations.
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ESAS 2017 real-year dollar estimated costs (colored wedges), broken down by NASA flight program element proposed in the decadal report, as compared to the anticipated flight budget (black line), showing how the ESAS 2017 costs fit within the available $3.4 billion budget through 2027. The total NASA budget for flight elements assumes growth at the rate of inflation for years beyond the current budget projection. Only the investments related to ESAS 2017 recommendations are shown. The gap between the estimated costs and the available budget represent funds that have been committed to other non-ESAS mission-related activities.
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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The committee is confident, based on analyses of technical readiness and cost performed during the study, that the recommended observations have feasible implementations that can be accomplished on schedule and within the stated cost caps. The proposed program was designed to both fit within anticipated budgets (assumed for the purposes of this report to grow only with inflation) and to ensure balance in the mission portfolio among program elements. As appropriate, candidate instruments and missions were formally subjected to a Cost and Technical Evaluation to assess budget needs. The committee considered management of development cost to be of critical importance to effective implementation of this program, in order to avoid impacting other programs and altering the desired programmatic balance. Should budgets be more or less than anticipated, the report includes decision rules for altering plans in a manner that seeks to ensure the overall program integrity.

ENABLING THE PROGRAM

Finally, none of this happens without robust supporting programs at NASA, NOAA, and USGS that provide the enabling resources for developing the recommended space-based observing systems and evaluating the data they produce. In particular, these supporting programs are central to transforming scientific advances into applications and societal benefits. The committee has proposed a variety of programmatic actions intended to improve the ability of each agency to deliver on their space-based observation programs. Key among these are findings and recommendations associated with ensuring balanced and robust programmatic structures (Findings 4.4 and 4.5), and for leveraging partnering opportunities (such as the European Union’s Copernicus/Sentinel program noted in Recommendation 4.5) that enhance operational efficiencies and ensure the agencies can accomplish the most possible within their available resources (Finding 4.10, Recommendations 4.5, 4.11, and 4.12).

Finding 4.4: A robust and resilient Earth Science Division program has the following attributes:

  • A healthy cadence of small/medium missions to provide the community with regular flight opportunities, to leverage advances in technologies and capabilities, and to rapidly respond to emerging science needs.
  • A small number of large cost-constrained missions, whose implementation does not draw excessive resources from smaller and more frequent opportunities.
  • Strong partnerships with U.S. government and non-U.S. space agencies.
  • Complementary programs for airborne, in situ, and other supporting observations.
  • Periodic assessment of the return on investment provided by each program element.
  • A robust mechanism for trading the need for continuity of existing measurement against new measurements.

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Finding 4.5: Maximizing the success of NASA’s Earth science program requires balanced investments across its program elements, each critically important to the overall program. The flight program provides observations that the research and analysis program draws on to perform scientific exploration, the applied sciences program transforms the science into real-world benefits, and the technology program accelerates the inclusion of technology advances in flight programs. The current balance across these four program elements is largely appropriate, enabling a robust and resilient Earth science program, and can be effectively maintained using decision rules such as recommended in this report. Some adjustment of balance within each program element is warranted, as recommended in this report.

Finding 4.10: Extension of Landsat capability through synergy with other space-based observations opens new opportunities for Landsat data usage, as has been proven with the European Space Agency (ESA) through cross-calibration and data sharing for Sentinel 2. These successes serve as a model for future partnerships and further synergies with other space-based observations.

Recommendation 4.5: Because expanded and extended international partnerships can benefit the nation:

  • NASA should consider enhancing existing partnerships and seeking new partnerships when implementing the observation priorities of this decadal survey.
  • NOAA should strengthen and expand its already strong international partnerships, by (1) coordinating with partners to further ensure complementary capabilities and operational backup while minimizing unneeded redundancy; and (2) extending partnerships to the more complete observing system life cycle that includes scientific and technological development of future capabilities.
  • USGS should extend the impact of the Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) program through further partnerships such as that with the European Sentinel program.
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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Recommendation 4.11: NOAA should establish itself among the leading government agencies that exploit potential value of commercial data sources, assessing both their benefits and risks in its observational data portfolio. It should innovate new government/commercial partnerships as needed to accomplish that goal, pioneer new business models when required, and seek acceptable solutions to present barriers such as international partner use rights. NOAA’s commercial data partnerships should ensure access to needed information on data characteristics and quality as necessary and appropriate, and be robust against loss of any single source/provider if the data are essential to NOAA core functions.

Recommendation 4.12: NOAA should establish, with NASA, a flexible framework for joint activities that advance the capability and cost-effectiveness of NOAA’s observation capabilities. This framework should enable implementation of specific project collaborations, each of which may have its own unique requirements, and should ensure: (1) clear roles, (2) mutual interests, (3) life-cycle interaction, (4) multidisciplinary methodologies, (5) multielement expertise, and (6) appropriate budget mechanisms.

ANTICIPATED PROGRESS WITHIN THE DECADE

In this report, the committee identifies the science and applications, observations, and programmatic support needed to bring to fruition its vision of understanding deeply the nature of our changing planet. As described throughout this Summary and in the body of the report, the committee expects the following will have been accomplished by the end of the decade.

Programmatic implementation within the agencies will be made more efficient by:

  • Increasing Program Cost-effectiveness. Promote expanded competition with medium-size missions to take better advantage of innovation and leveraged partnerships.
  • Institutionalizing Sustained Science Continuity. Establish methods to prioritize and facilitate the continuation of observations deemed critical to monitoring societally-important aspects of the planet, after initial scientific exploration has been accomplished.
  • Enabling Untapped NASA-NOAA Synergies. Establish more effective means for NASA-NOAA partnership to jointly development the next generation of weather instruments, accelerating NOAA’s integration of advanced operational capabilities.

Improved observations will enable exciting new science and applications by:

  • Initiating or Deploying More Than Eight New Priority Observations of Our Planet. Developing or launching missions and instruments to address new and/or extended priority observation areas that serve science and applications. Five are prescribed in the committee’s recommended program for NASA and three are to be chosen from among seven candidate areas prioritized by the committee to form the basis of a new class of NASA competed medium-sized missions. These new observation priorities will be complemented by an additional two new small missions and six new instruments to be selected through NASA’s existing Earth Venture program element, and two opportunities for sustained observations to be selected through the new Venture-Continuity strand of this program. The existing and planned POR will also be implemented as expected.
  • Achieving Breakthroughs on Key Scientific Questions. Advance knowledge throughout portions of the survey’s 35 key science questions (Table S.1) that address critical unknowns about the Earth system and promise new societal applications and benefits.

Businesses and individuals will receive enhanced value from scientific advances and improved Earth information, such as:

  • Increased Benefits to Operational System End Users. Enhanced processes will allow NOAA and USGS to have greater impact on the user communities they serve, and will provide these agencies with improved tools to leverage low-cost commercial and international space-based observations that further their mission.
  • Accelerated Public Benefits of Science. Improved capacity for transitioning science to applications will make it possible to more quickly and effectively achieve the societal benefits of scientific exploration, and to generate applications more responsive to evolving societal needs.
  • Development of Innovative Commercial Applications. New observations and data products enable innovative commercial applications that have the potential for substantial economic benefit to both developers and end users.

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Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
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CREDITS

1. Courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center, https://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2008/promotional/.

2. NASA image by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS data from Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA GSFC.

3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), 2018, Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, Figure 1.1. Data available as follows: Helping Plan Our Day—J.K. Lazo, R.E. Morss, and J.L. Demuth, 300 Billion Served—Sources, perceptions, uses, and values of weather forecasts, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2009; comScore, Inc., “The U.S. Mobile App Report,” 2014, Protecting Our Health—World Health Organization, “Burden of Disease from the Joint Effects of Household and Ambient Air Pollution for 2012,” http://www.who.int/airpollution/data/AP_jointeffect_BoD_results_Nov2016.pdf, 2016; World Health Organization, “Malaria Fact Sheet.” Keeping Us Secure—D. Titley, 2016, “Cutting NASA Earth Observations Would Be a Costly Mistake,” Defense One, December 2, http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/12/cutting-nasa-earth-observations-would-be-costly-mistake/133586/. Mitigating Natural Disasters—GAO Highlights, 2017, “Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure,” September, https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/687465.pdf. Ensuring Resource Availability—UN-Water, 2007, Coping with Water Scarcity: Challenge of the Twenty-First Century, http://www.fao.org/3/a-aq444e.pdf; McKinsey Global Institute, 2017, “How Technology Is Reshaping Supply and Demand for Natural Resources,” February, https://www.mckinsey.com.

4. NASA, 2018, https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/hurricane-florence.

5. NOAA, “Katrina Forecast Uncertainty,” uploaded August 28, 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaaimages/20329440874; NASA Earth Observatory, 2010, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/44166. Image by Jesse Allen, using AMSR-E and MODIS data processed and provided by Chelle Gentemann and Frank Wentz, Remote Sensing Systems.

6. S. Voigt, F. Giulio-Tonolo, J. Lyons, J. Kučera, B. Jones, T. Schneiderhan, G. Platzeck, et al., 2016, Global trends in satellite-based emergency mapping, Science 353(6296):247-252; NASA Visible Earth, 2010, NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, https://visibleearth.nasa.govview.php?id=44070.

7. NASA Earth Observatory, 2018, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92786. Images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

8. NOAA, "Satellite Eyes Winter Nor’easter," uploaded January 4, 2018, https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2018/satellite-eyes-winternoreaster.

9. NASA Earth Observatory, 2018, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/144225. Image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

10. NASA Earth Observatory, 2016, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/89476. Image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.

11. NASA Worldview at https://go.nasa.gov/2w3vI3N, https://go.nasa.gov/2w6f0kg, and https://go.nasa.gov/2tPqpZc, and https://go.nasa.gov/2tPv4KJ.

12. Courtesy NASA Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center, “The Blob,” May 2015, https://earthdata.nasa.gov/user-resources/sensing-our-planet/blob. Data shown are the JPL Multi-scale Ultra-high Resolution (MUR) Version 4.1 and NASA Blue Marble image courtesy of Chelle Gentemann and JPL PO.DAAC. See also C.L. Gentemann et al., 2017, Geophysical Research Letters 44.1:312-319.

13. NASEM, 2018, Figure 1.1.1; NASEM, 2018, Figure 9.5. Adapted by Steven Nerem from R.S. Nerem, D.P. Chambers, C. Choe, and G.T. Mitchum, Estimating mean sea level change from the TOPEX and Jason Altimeter Missions, Marine Geodesy 33:435-446, 2010; reprinted by permission of the publisher, Taylor & Francis Ltd, http://www.tandfonline.com.

14. NASEM, 2018, Figure 3.7.1. Prepared for the decadal survey by Byron Tapley, Himanshu Save, and Srinivas Bettadpur, 2017, from information in H. Save, S. Bettadpur, and B.D. Tapley, High resolution CSR GRACE RL05 mascons, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 121:7547-7569, 2016.

15. NASEM, 2018, Figure 3.5.1: Panel D from M.C. Hansen et al., 2013, Science 342:850-853, reprinted with permission from AAAS; NASA Earth Observatory, 2017, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/90062, images by Jesse Allen using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

16. Clockwise from the left: NASA; image by NOAA Climate.gov, data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Lower Colorado Region, photo used with permission from Flickr user Rudy Salakory, some rights reserved; NASA and NOAA, https://www.nnvl.noaa.gov; NOAA, courtesy of Russell Huff and Konrad Steffen; NASA, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/the-changing-colors-of-our-living-planet; NASA/JAXA, https://pmm.nasa.gov/image-gallery/13-channels-gmi.

17. NASEM, 2018, Figure S.1.

18-19. NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory, July 6, 2015.

20-21. NASEM, 2018, Tables S.1 and S.2.

22. NASEM, 2018, Figure S.2.

23. NASA, PIA13314, 2010, https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog; courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS/California Geological Survey/Google.

24-25. NASA Earth Observatory, 2012, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/79800; image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center); Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense.

Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×

Building on the success and discoveries of the past several decades, the report’s balanced program provides a pathway to realizing remarkable scientific and societal benefits from space-based Earth observations. It ensures that the United States will continue to be a visionary leader and partner in Earth observation over the coming decade, inspiring the next generation of Earth science and applications innovation and the people who make that possible.

Image

Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 17
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 18
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 19
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 20
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 21
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 22
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 23
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 24
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 25
Suggested Citation:"Excerpts from the Report Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25437.
×
Page 26
Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space: An Overview for Decision Makers and the Public Get This Book
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We live on a dynamic Earth shaped by both natural processes and the impacts of humans on their environment. It is in our collective interest to observe and understand our planet, and to predict future behavior to the extent possible, in order to effectively manage resources, successfully respond to threats from natural and human-induced environmental change, and capitalize on the opportunities – social, economic, security, and more – that such knowledge can bring.

By continuously monitoring and exploring Earth, developing a deep understanding of its evolving behavior, and characterizing the processes that shape and reshape the environment in which we live, we not only advance knowledge and basic discovery about our planet, but we further develop the foundation upon which benefits to society are built. Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space (National Academies Press, 2018) provides detailed guidance on how relevant federal agencies can ensure that the United States receives the maximum benefit from its investments in Earth observations from space, while operating within realistic cost constraints. This short booklet, designed to be accessible to the general public, provides a summary of the key ideas and recommendations from the full decadal survey report.

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