Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




EARTH OBSERVATION
Satellite Shows High Productivity from US Corn Belt
by Kathryn Hansen for Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Apr 01, 2014


The magnitude of fluorescence portrayed in this visualization prompted researchers to take a closer look at the productivity of the U.S. Corn Belt. The glow represents fluorescence measured from land plants in early July, over a period from 2007 to 2011. Image courtesy NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Data from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to NASA and university scientists.

Healthy plants convert light to energy via photosynthesis, but chlorophyll also emits a fraction of absorbed light as fluorescent glow that is invisible to the naked eye. The magnitude of the glow is an excellent indicator of the amount of photosynthesis, or gross productivity, of plants in a given region.

Research in 2013 led by Joanna Joiner, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., demonstrated that fluorescence from plants could be teased out of data from existing satellites, which were designed and built for other purposes. The new research led by Luis Guanter of the Freie Universitat Berlin, used the data for the first time to estimate photosynthesis from agriculture. Results were published March 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to co-author Christian Frankenberg of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., "The paper shows that fluorescence is a much better proxy for agricultural productivity than anything we've had before. This can go a long way regarding monitoring - and maybe even predicting - regional crop yields."

Guanter, Joiner and Frankenberg launched their collaboration at a 2012 workshop, hosted by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, to explore measurements of photosynthesis from space. The team noticed that on an annual basis, the tropics are the most productive. But during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the U.S. Corn Belt "really stands out," Frankenberg said. "Areas all over the world are not as productive as this area."

The researchers set out to describe the phenomenon observed by carefully interpreting the data from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 (GOME-2) on Metop-A, a European meteorological satellite. Data showed that fluorescence from the Corn Belt, which extends from Ohio to Nebraska and Kansas, peaks in July at levels 40 percent greater than those observed in the Amazon.

Comparison with ground-based measurements from carbon flux towers and yield statistics confirmed the results.

The match between ground-based measurements and satellite measurements was a "pleasant surprise," said Joiner, a co-author on the paper. Ground-based measurements have a resolution of about 0.4 square miles (1 square kilometer), while the satellite measurements currently have a resolution of more than 1,158 square miles (3,000 square kilometers). The study confirms that even with coarse resolution, the satellite method could estimate the photosynthetic activity occurring inside plants at the molecular level for areas with relatively homogenous vegetation like the Corn Belt.

Challenges remain in estimating the productivity of fragmented agricultural areas, not properly sampled by current space-borne instruments. That's where missions with better resolution could help, such as NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 - a mission planned for launch in July 2014 that will also measure solar-induced fluorescence.

The research could also help scientists improve the computer models that simulate Earth's carbon cycle, as Guanter found a strong underestimation of crop photosynthesis in models. The analysis revealed that carbon cycle models - which scientists use to understand how carbon cycles through the ocean, land and atmosphere over time - underestimate the productivity of the Corn Belt by 40 to 60 percent.

Unlike most vegetation, food crops are managed to maximize productivity. They usually have access to abundant nutrients and are irrigated. The Corn Belt, for example, receives water from the Mississippi River. Accounting for irrigation is currently a challenge for models, which is one reason why they underestimate agricultural productivity.

"If we don't take into account irrigation and other human influences in the agricultural areas, we're not going to correctly estimate the amount of carbon taken up by vegetation, particularly corn," Joiner said. "Corn plants are very productive in terms of assimilating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This needs to be accounted for going forward in trying to predict how much of the atmospheric carbon dioxide will be taken up by crops in a changing climate."

According to Frankenberg, the remote sensing-based techniques now available could be a powerful monitoring tool for food security, especially data from OCO-2 and in combination with data from other upcoming satellites, such as NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive, scheduled for launch later this year.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

.


Related Links
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARTH OBSERVATION
Math wizards stand ready to join Malaysia Airlines search
Reston, United States (AFP) March 27, 2014
Math wizards who pinpointed the final resting place of a doomed Air France jet deep beneath the Atlantic stand ready to do so again for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. No one has yet asked Metron, a scientific consulting firm, to join the search for the missing Boeing 777, but that hasn't stopped it from getting a head start, using the few nuggets of data currently in the public domain. "W ... read more


EARTH OBSERVATION
Unique camera from NASA's moon missions sold at auction

Expeditions to the Moon: beware of meteorites

A Wet Moon

ASU camera creates stunning mosaic of moon's polar region

EARTH OBSERVATION
Mars yard ready for Red Planet rover

Mars One building simulated colony to vet potential colonists

Cleaner NASA Rover Sees Its Shadow in Martian Spring

The Opposition of Mars

EARTH OBSERVATION
NASA Marks Major Milestone for Spaceport of the Future

High School 'Final Five' Compete for Out-of-This-World Test on Orion

You've got mail: Clinton-to-space laptop up for auction

The NASA Z-2 Spacesuit Design Vote

EARTH OBSERVATION
Tiangong's New Mission

"Space Odyssey": China's aspiration in future space exploration

China to launch first "space shuttle bus" this year

China expects to launch cargo ship into space around 2016

EARTH OBSERVATION
Soyuz Docking Delayed Till Thursday as Station Crew Adjusts Schedule

US, Russian astronauts take new trajectory to dock the ISS

Software glitch most probable cause of Soyuz TMA-12 taking two day approach

Russian spacecraft brings three-man crew to ISS after two-day delay

EARTH OBSERVATION
Arianespace's seventh Soyuz mission from French Guiana is readied for liftoff next week

Boeing wins contract to design DARPA Airborne Satellite Launch

NASA Seeks Suborbital Flight Proposals

Arianespace Launches ASTRA 5B and Amazonas 4A

EARTH OBSERVATION
Lick's Automated Planet Finder: First robotic telescope for planet hunters

Space Sunflower May Help Snap Pictures of Planets

NRL Researchers Detect Water Around a Hot Jupiter

UK joins the planet hunt with Europe's PLATO mission

EARTH OBSERVATION
Space Observation Optics Cover from IR to X-ray Wavelengths

Saab continues support of military simulation system

China's rare earth trade limits break global rules: WTO

Intel bets big on cloud, with stake in Cloudera




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.