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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Field Work
Hugh Bollinger

Field Work

Field Research Diversity (credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

When you think about 'field work' at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California it usually conjures up images of robots on Mars, cameras focused on Jupiter or Pluto, or landers sampling Titan's hydrocarbon atmosphere. But at the Lab itself, field work takes many forms and teams collaborate with others elsewhere. JPL is applying its remarkable engineering and scientific talents to collaborate with environmental investigators on Earth. The new collaborations are accelerating our understanding of how ecosystems function from the arctic to the tropics, up into the atmosphere, and down into the ocean's depths. Researchers worldwide now use JPL's gathered data, often combined with satellite observations and computer models, to tackle challenges in understanding how the Earth's environments interact to form an integrated system.

Several new projects at the Lab include: a technology mission over Hawai'i and the Western Pacific to collect airborne data on the health of coral reefs that will be combined with a future satellite mission to study reefs worldwide; a mission for a month-long ocean survey across the Pacific to monitor the diversity of microscopic phytoplankton, and their impact on the marine carbon cycle; and a winter airborne campaign over Colorado's forests to provide the first multiyear monitoring of how much water is stored in its snow-covered mountains. Long-running projects like the Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) assess the condition of threatened reef ecosystems in Palau, Guam, and the Marianas that is being expanded to collaborate with Australian marine biologists mapping of the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast.

 

Radar scans, Hawai'i, Western Pacific reefs, coral (red); algae (green); sand (yellow) (credit: JPL-CORAL program)

Ecosystems by their very nature are complex and require 'big data' gathered from multiple disciplines to analyze. Field studies in ecology, marine biology, and geochemistry are all benefiting from collaborations with JPL now underway right here on Earth.

WHB

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