Earth 360 Video: The Call of Science
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Earth 360 Video: The Call of Science

August 24, 2019

[Snow machine engine] ♪ [The Call of Science] [Operation IceBridge /
Greenland] [Joe MacGregor] I am looking out
over this beautiful landscape that is covered in snow. I realize that it won’t
always be that way for the rest of my lifetime. And I felt sad because
this is a landscape that is an integral
part of the Earth. Life as an Earth scientist
means understanding the planet that we live on, and, especially in the context
of climate change, understanding where that
planet is headed. So, for a glaciologist
that means understanding where
ice is headed. I try to understand how
glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica flow, how they
have changed in the past, how they’re changing presently and how they will
change in the future. That ice flow can vary over
time and can have significant consequences for the Earth
systems around it and hence also societies that are
dependent on either the water that those glaciers
release or the sea levels that those glaciers
can influence. When you are flying over
these polar regions, it’s a alien world. And when you’re standing on
the ice in these regions, it can also feel
incredibly desolate but also liberating
at the same time. The biggest
scientific question that I’m pursuing
right now is, “What is going
to happen to these two remaining large ice sheets
in Greenland and Antarctica, in the coming centuries? Are they going to
retreat dramatically? Are they going to collapse? Or are they going to be
relatively unaffected by a changing climate?” That’s the question. On board IceBridge airplanes
we have a laser that can very precisely measure the
elevation of the surface. That allows us to
monitor the health of glaciers and ice sheets. We have ice-penetrating radars that send out radio
frequency pulses and reflect off of
layers within the ice. From that, we can learn
about the structure of the ice below us, how thick the ice is, and about the properties
of the rock below. It takes a large, concerted
effort like Operation IceBridge to go out there and,
not only make the repeat measurements that we need to
understand changing ice, but to go out and learn
new things requires a steady focus on the
act of exploration. NASA, in my view, seeks to do
things both technologically and scientifically that have
never been done before. We’re learning something about
the ice and the rock and the Earth system in these places
that no one ever knew before and so you really feel like
not only do you have the potential to leave your
mark as a scientist but you’re contributing
to the greater good. We don’t know if we can stop
the changes that we’ve seen, but what I do know is that if
we can, it will require us to learn a lot more about what is
going on in the polar regions, and to go out there,
“boots on the ground,” explore what’s going
on as scientists. [CORAL Mission / Oahu, Hawaii] [Michelle Gierach] Coral
reefs, they’re sometimes dubbed “the rainforests of the sea” and I think that’s true. They actually house a quarter
of all the oceanic fish species. The COral Reef
Airborne Laboratory, otherwise called
the CORAL mission, is a three-year
investigation to use state-of-the-art airborne as
well as in-water measurements. We’re looking at a portion of
the world’s reef system to assess the condition of these
threatened ecosystems and relate how they’re changing
to their environment. The instrument that flies
aboard the aircraft is observing light that’s reflected
from the ocean surface. What the instrument is
actually able to do is break down that
light into profiles. So, just like you or I have
unique fingerprints the instrument’s actually able
to discriminate the different sort of unique fingerprints of
coral, algae, and sand. We have an in-water team to
validate what we’re seeing from the instrument itself. [Splash] Our current understanding
of coral reefs is really only about .01 to 1%
of reefs worldwide. That’s extremely small. We know they’re threatened,
but do we really understand how that all works together, how their condition
changes with respect to their environment of global
climate change? That’s really what we’re
trying to do for coral; providing this unique data set
and then looking at those different conditions–how is
it changing with respect to increasing ocean acidification, increasing ocean temperatures. I am a soon-to-be-parent. I want to provide my child
with an Earth system that I grew up with, that I
know, that I love, that isn’t so
dramatically different that certain species and
certain ecosystems are no longer there
and that it’s viable for life. It’s great when you find
what you expected, but I love when what I
assumed is not what I find. That’s what drove me
to science– just the intrigue
of it, the mystery. It’s what keeps me going. [MacGregor] There are
thousands of scientists at NASA, at JPL and other
institutions around the globe who have dedicated their
careers to better understanding the Earth as it is, and developing models that
can help us project what the future of
the Earth is. That is a personal commitment
from each of those scientists that you can’t easily
walk away from. When you are a
scientist you want to understand the world as it is, not the world as you
wish it were. [Gierach] Though I’m
an oceanographer, clearly the ocean,
the atmosphere, the land, the cryosphere–we’re all
connected as the Earth system. We’re all impacting
one another. We really need to have a better understanding
of that interworking. [MacGregor] NASA continually
wants to move forward, not only our understanding of
Earth but, of course, the moon, the solar system,
worlds beyond that. We want to learn
the new things and I’m very glad to
be a part of that. [NASA/ Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of

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  1. in the name of of our life styles and science we pollute ice sheets, deep oceans, rain forests….no limit . stay back in your own villages and eat what you get there. no pollution and no study is required

  2. some people think missions on space is waste of money as humans dont have for basic needs on earth, I always hear people saying it.

  3. talking about only the ice sheets that are retreating, without talking about the ice sheets that are growing, is incredibly dishonest.

  4. oh woo, more data. Let's analyze the problem more instead of solving it. Let's keep using resources to analyze problems. Useful. I'm very glad this is going on instead of more space exploration. NOT. GET BACK TO SPACE, NASA

  5. ? KEEP ROCKING NASA. ? Awesome Work. Every generation is striving to make things better for the present and upcoming generations. All the good we see today is from dedicated people, humanity and organizations in the past that contributed for the betterment of the world. Life make sense if at all we contribute some thing for the betterment of the world.

  6. Got to say it, YouTube really ruins this type of video, we need a clever person to make controlling it less janky and annoying. . . Please.

  7. It's funny…he's whining about climate change…yet at that exact same part of the video it shows him riding in a warm comfy vehicle that is contributing to the same climate change he's whining about. Hypocrite much??

  8. I'm giving this video a thumbs down. This is based on the video itself (production, actually). I love science, and even this topic, but having the bottom of the split screen sideways is very distracting…even if trying to watch it through concentrating first on the top half, then watching again trying to concentrate on the bottom half.


  10. Global climate change failure is a joke to tax us… Mother nature heals herself,JPL,NASA using ionosphere burning is causing the cooling down of the earth.

  11. Gorgeous! – This video had a lot of work put into it and it shows. These are very important missions for our data sets.

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