NASA Climate Action Plan Aims to Update Agency’s Climate Modeling

By Rachel Jewett | October 15, 2021
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NASA’s TEMPO pollution monitoring instrument. (NASA)

NASA has set a goal to update its climate modeling to improve data on Earth’s water and energy cycle to combat climate change, the agency detailed in a climate action plan released Oct. 8.

The action plan comes as part of President Biden’s focus on climate change. NASA and 22 other large agencies have developed climate action plans to address each agency’s own climate risks and vulnerabilities. NASA’s report looks at NASA’s risk factors from climate change for its infrastructure, but also the agency’s role in collecting data on climate change through its science missions.

“NASA has unique assets it must protect – scientific equipment and capabilities that allow us to understand this climate crisis on Earth as well as explore the universe,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “NASA is committed to safeguarding our mission in the decades to come, and through the data we provide to the world, we’ll help other agencies make sure they can do the same.”

The report details NASA’s risk from climate change, that “a significant portion” of its infrastructure is in low-lying areas along coastal areas in the U.S. and vulnerable to rising sea levels and severe weather events.

On the priority of updating climate modeling, NASA has set the goals of: enhancing climate downscaling models such as the regional climate model evaluation system; improving early warning predictions for extreme events; and refining GIS visualization platforms that integrate future climate conditions with geospatial asset data.

The plan says that NASA sees an opportunity to use satellite measurements to detect climate change trends and use the data for risk management and emergency response.

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