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ACT-America: Science

Science Overview

ACT-America, or Atmospheric Carbon and Transport – America, will conduct five airborne campaigns across three regions in the eastern United States to study the transport of atmospheric carbon. The eastern half of the United States is a region that includes a highly productive biosphere, vigorous agricultural activity, extensive gas and oil extraction and consumption, dynamic, seasonally varying weather patterns and the most extensive carbon cycle and meteorological observing networks on Earth, serves as an ideal setting for the mission.

Each 6-week campaign will accurately and precisely quantify anomalies in atmospheric carbon, also known as Carbon Flux. Accurate carbon flux data is necessary to address all terrestrial carbon cycle science questions. ACT-America addresses the three primary sources of uncertainty in atmospheric inversions — transport error, prior flux uncertainty and limited data density.

ACT-America will advance society’s ability to predict and manage future climate change by enabling policy-relevant quantification of the carbon cycle. Sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are poorly known at regional to continental scales. ACT-America will enable and demonstrate a new generation of atmospheric inversion systems for quantifying CO2 and CH4 sources and sinks.

ACT-AMERICA Transport Diagram

ACT-America Goals:

  1. To quantify and reduce atmospheric transport uncertainties.
  2. To improve regional-scale, seasonal prior estimate of CO2 and CH4 fluxes.
  3. To evaluate the sensitivity of Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) column measurements to regional variability in tropospheric CO2.

ACT-America will achieve these goals by deploying airborne and ground-based platforms to obtain data that will be combined with data from existing measurement networks and integrated with an ensemble of atmospheric inversion systems. Aircraft instrumented with remote and in situ sensors will observe how mid-latitude weather systems interact with CO2 and CH4 sources and sinks to create atmospheric CO2/CH4 distributions. A model ensemble consisting of a mesoscale atmospheric transport model with multiple physics and resolutions options nested within global inversion models and surface CO2/CH4 flux ensembles will be used to predict atmospheric CO2 and CH4 distributions.

Beyond the conclusion of the mission, application of the knowledge gained from this mission will improve diagnoses of the carbon cycle across the globe for decades.

Study Area

ACT-AMERICA Science Study Area
Figure 1. Sustained airborne and tower-based measurements will be focused over three regional CO2 and CH4 source/sink regions
in the U.S. The campaign will build upon and improve the utility of our nation’s existing investment in long-term CO2 and CH4 observations,
noted on the figure. The study areas are identified with a box that has the dimensions of the proposed flight patterns.

The three study regions indicated in Figure 1 are chosen because:

  • The U.S. east of the Rockies is the dominant North American biogenic source/sink region for CO2 (Huntzinger et al., 2012) and is a major source region for biogenic and anthropogenic CH4 emissions (Miller et al. 2013; Allen et al., 2013);
  • The regions encompass a variety of biomes (Midwest agriculture, Northeast forests, Southeast coastal forests and agriculture) and oil and gas extraction zones (Bakken – midwest; Marcellus – northeast; Fayetteville/Haynesville – southeast);
  • Each region is large enough to encompass the weather systems that are the target of the study, and the regions encompass a broad range of mid-latitude weather environments.

Investigation Timeline
ACT-AMERICA Investigation Timeline
PurpleAir PA-II-SD Air Quality Sensor
Laser Particle Counters
Type (2) PMS5003
Range of measurement 0.3, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0, & 10 μm
Counting efficiency 50% at 0.3μm & 98% at ≥0.5μm
Effective range
(PM2.5 standard)*
0 to 500 μg/m³
Maximum range (PM2.5 standard)* ≥1000 μg/m³
Maximum consistency error (PM2.5 standard) ±10% at 100 to 500μg/m³ & ±10μg/m³ at 0 to 100μg/m³
Standard Volume 0.1 Litre
Single response time ≤1 second
Total response time ≤10 seconds
Pressure, Temperature, & Humidity Sensor
Type BME280
Temperature range -40°F to 185°F (-40°C to 85°C)
Pressure range 300 to 1100 hPa
Humidity Response time (τ63%): 1 s
Accuracy tolerance: ±3% RH
Hysteresis: ≤2% RH


Pandora capabilities

Instrument

Response

Parameter

Precision

Uncertainty

Range

Resolution

Pandora

~2min

Total Column O3, NO2, HCHO, SO2, H2O, BrO

0.01 DU

0.1 DU

 

 

Virginia Department of Environment Quality in-situ instrumentation

Instrument

Response

Parameter

Precision

Uncertainty

Thermo Scientific 42C (Molybdenum converter)
(VADEQ)

60 s

NO and NOx

50 pptv

3%

Teledyne API 200EU w/ photolytic converter
(EPA) PI-Szykman

20 s

NO2

50 pptv

 

Thermo Scientific 49C (VADEQ)

20 s

O3

1 ppbv

4%

Thermo Scientific 48i (VADEQ)

60 s

CO

40 ppbv

5%

Thermo Scientific 43i (VADEQ)

80 s

SO2

0.2 ppbv

5%

Thermo Scientific 1400AB TEOM (VADEQ)

600 s

PM2.5 (continuous)

µg/m3

1 3%

Thermo Scientific Partisol Plus 2025 (VADEQ)

24 hr

PM2.5 (filter-based FRM)- 1/3 days

 

 

BSRN-LRC-49
Large area view.
Latitude: 37.1038
Longitude: -76.3872
Elevation: 3 m Above sea level
Scenes: urban, marsh, bay, river and farm.

Legend

  • The inner red circle is a 20km CERES foot print centered on the BSRN-LRC site.
  • The pink circle represents a possible tangential 20km foot print.
  • The middle red circle represents the area in which a 20km foot print could fall and still see the site.
  • Yellow is a sample 40 deg off nadir foot print.
  • The outer red circle is the region which would be seen by a possible 40 deg off nadir foot print.
The BSRN-LRC sun tracker at the NASA Langley Research Center on a snowy day (02/20/2015) The BSRN-LRC sun tracker at the NASA Langley Research Center on a snowy day (02/20/2015)
CAPABLE-BSRN Google Site Location Image

Team Satellite Sensor G/L Dates Number of obs Phase angle range (°)
CMA FY-3C MERSI LEO 2013-2014 9 [43 57]
CMA FY-2D VISSR GEO 2007-2014
CMA FY-2E VISSR GEO 2010-2014
CMA FY-2F VISSR GEO 2012-2014
JMA MTSAT-2 IMAGER GEO 2010-2013 62 [-138,147]
JMA GMS5 VISSR GEO 1995-2003 50 [-94,96]
JMA Himawari-8 AHI GEO 2014- -
EUMETSAT MSG1 SEVIRI GEO 2003-2014 380/43 [-150,152]
EUMETSAT MSG2 SEVIRI GEO 2006-2014 312/54 [-147,150]
EUMETSAT MSG3 SEVIRI GEO 2013-2014 45/7 [-144,143]
EUMETSAT MET7 MVIRI GEO 1998-2014 128 [-147,144]
CNES Pleiades-1A PHR LEO 2012 10 [+/-40]
CNES Pleiades-1B PHR LEO 2013-2014 10 [+/-40]
NASA-MODIS Terra MODIS LEO 2000-2014 136 [54,56]
NASA-MODIS Aqua MODIS LEO 2002-2014 117 [-54,-56]
NASA-VIIRS NPP VIIRS LEO 2012-2014 20 [50,52]
NASA-OBPG SeaStar SeaWiFS LEO 1997-2010 204 (<10, [27-66])
NASA/USGS Landsat-8 OLI LEO 2013-2014 3 [-7]
NASA OCO-2 OCO LEO 2014
NOAA-STAR NPP VIIRS LEO 2011-2014 19 [-52,-50]
NOAA GOES-10 IMAGER GEO 1998-2006 33 [-66, 81]
NOAA GOES-11 IMAGER GEO 2006-2007 10 [-62, 57]
NOAA GOES-12 IMAGER GEO 2003-2010 49 [-83, 66]
NOAA GOES-13 IMAGER GEO 2006 11
NOAA GOES-15 IMAGER GEO 2012-2013 28 [-52, 69]
VITO Proba-V VGT-P LEO 2013-2014 25 [-7]
KMA COMS MI GEO 2010-2014 60
AIST Terra ASTER LEO 1999-2014 1 -27.7
ISRO OceanSat2 OCM-2 LEO 2009-2014 2
ISRO INSAT-3D IMAGER GEO 2013-2014 2

The NASA Prediction Of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) Project improves the accessibility and usage NASA Earth Observations (EO) supporting community research in three focus areas: 1) renewable energy development, 2) building energy efficiency, and 3) agroclimatology applications. The latest POWER version enhances its distribution systems to provide the latest NASA EO source data, be more resilient, support users more effectively, and provide data more efficiently. The update will include hourly-based source Analysis Ready Data (ARD), in addition to enhanced daily, monthly, annual, and climatology ARD. The daily time-series now spans 40 years for meteorology available from 1981 and solar-based parameters start in 1984. The hourly source data are from Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) and Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), spanning 20 years from 2001.

The newly available hourly data will provide users the ARD needed to model the energy performance of building systems, providing information directly amenable to decision support tools introducing the industry standard EPW (EnergyPlus Weather file). One of POWER’s partners, Natural Resource Canada’s RETScreen™, will be simultaneously releasing a new version of its software, which will have integrated POWER hourly and daily ARD products. For our agroclimatology users, the ICASA (International Consortium for Agricultural Systems Applications standards) format for the crop modelers has been modernized.

POWER is releasing new user-defined analytic capabilities, including custom climatologies and climatological-based reports for parameter anomalies, ASHRAE® compatible climate design condition statistics, and building climate zones. The ARD and climate analytics will be readily accessible through POWER's integrated services suite, including the Data Access Viewer (DAV). The DAV has been improved to incorporate updated parameter groupings, new analytical capabilities, and the new data formats. Updated methodology documentation and usage tutorials, as well as application developer specific pages, allow users to access to POWER Data efficiently.

+Visit the POWER Program Site to Learn More.