New U.S. Satellite to Monitor Global Climate Change

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U.S. scientists say a next-generation weather satellite launched by NASA last week will provide critical new insights into global climate change.

The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite, launched on Oct. 28, will orbit the planet at an altitude of 512 miles, traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole 14 times daily. While technically a NASA mission, the $1.5 billion satellite will provide key data for a series of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects, marking a key step in the creation of a U.S. climate monitoring system.

The project’s key objectives include creation of long-term global environmental data, daily measurements of the ozone layer, monitoring of changes to the planet’s sea ice and glaciers, and collection of data on air pollution.

Officials hope the satellite will serve as a bridge between NOAA’s current polar orbiting satellites and the next generation of satellites, the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). A series of delays and funding cuts, however, has pushed a launch of the JPSS project back to 2017 at the earliest, which U.S. scientists say could lead to a gap in satellite data.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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