NASA recently featured an important result published by Jia Yue and the SABER science team at HU.
NASA’s TIMED mission, short for Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, has confirmed a surprisingly fast carbon dioxide increase in Earth’s upper atmosphere, raising questions about how different layers of the atmosphere are interconnected. Even more curious—though climate models predict carbon dioxide should increase more or less equally across the globe, in its 14 years of data collection, TIMED observed a much faster increase of carbon dioxide above the Northern Hemisphere.
Understanding the way carbon dioxide moves throughout the atmosphere is key, both for making accurate climate models and for planning spacecraft flight paths. Though carbon dioxide raises temperatures near Earth’s surface, it actually causes cooling in the upper atmosphere, reducing air density in these outermost reaches of the atmosphere and impacting spacecraft orbits.
This study, published in Geophysical Research Letters on Sept. 5, 2015, uses 14 years of data from a radiometer on board the TIMED satellite, the first satellite capable of making long-term measurements of carbon dioxide concentration in the upper atmosphere when it launched in 2001.
“Before TIMED, the only measurements of carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere were direct measurements from sounding rocket research flights and short-lived spaceborne sensors,” said Jia Yue, a researcher at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, and lead author on the study. “But it’s impossible to study long-term trends from snapshots.”
Their research paper in Geophys. Res. Lett. http://doi.org/6×5 (2015) was also recognized by Nature.