IGARRS 2003 Special Sessions

NASA's Earth Science Vision: Science Goals

To Understand and Protect Our Home Planet: A NASA Mission, An International Challenge

 
Background

The Earth is our home. The health and sustainability of the global population depends on informed decisions concerning planetary stewardship. Recognizing our scientific and social responsibility to improve life here on Earth, drives a major, long-range priority for the Earth Science to develop an accurate and quantitative predictive capability for the Earth environmental system. NASA is in a unique position to lead the development of this highly complex and large scale modeling capability where joint international science requirement drivers will require a strong commitment and involvement of national and international agencies.

The demand for developing interdisciplinary and innovative scientific knowledge and technological capabilities with new understandings of the complete Earth system will lead to the creation of the predictive Earth model for all components of the Earth system—the Atmosphere and Ocean, the Solid Earth, the Biosphere, and all the links and between these system components. This Earth System Model will challenge the global community to develop new and innovative technological capabilities that enable highly informed social and policy decisions. International understanding of our home planet complexities will enable the protection of the global community and inspire the next generation of explorers to open up the universe.

Challenges

Six major Earth science issues emerged as interdisciplinary challenges that lend themselves to predictive capability through modeling.

Oceans and Atmosphere:

  • Short-term climate prediction -- on monthly to seasonal scales,
  • The predictability of extreme weather -- specifically topical storms,

Solid Earth:

  • Sea level under the influence of the changing climate,
  • Understanding and predicting Earth crustal deformation, especially earthquakes and volcanoes,

Biosphere:

  • The availability of water under the influence of climate change,
  • Biosphere-climate interactions and human influences

They were chosen for their challenge to an international society for scientific breakthroughs, the needed technological advancements, and the application of the new knowledge to human social impact. These three areas of impact—science, technology and application—are important drivers for the future generations of explorers.