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NASA awards $30M grant to Penn State to help answer climate questions

By Patricia Craig, January 12, 2015

NASA's C-130 research aircraft

A view of NASA's C-130 research aircraft that will be used on the ACT-America mission. Image: NASA / Dennis Rieke and Mark Russell

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State will lead a five-year, $30 million mission to improve quantification of present-day carbon-related greenhouse gas sources and sinks. An improved understanding of these gases will advance our ability to predict and manage future climate change.

"Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America" is one of five airborne studies funded by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder Program to improve our understanding of the Earth system and our ability to predict future changes.

In 2015, NASA aircraft will begin five studies around the world to investigate how global air pollution, climate forcing, warming ocean waters and fires in Africa affect our climate. The five studies were competitively selected as part of NASA's Earth Venture-class missions and are the second series of NASA's Earth Venture suborbital investigations.

Ken Davis, professor of meteorology in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

,is the principal investigator on the Penn State project, which will measure atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases and atmospheric properties within weather systems across the eastern United States.


Rolling lab tracks methane to its source

How much comes from natural gas drilling?

By Anne Danahy December 19, 2014

Zach Barkley Research Assistant at PSU







McHenry Township, Lycoming County. Equipped with a gray box, a map and an SUV, Thomas Lauvaux and a team from Penn State's Department of Meteorology has been at it for hours, taking measurements and racking up the miles.

It's one in a series of road trips across northcentral and northeastern Pennsylvania, and neighboring southern New York, aimed at figuring out how much methane is in the air and how much of it is coming from the booming natural gas industry.

"Isotopes of methane will tell us how much comes from natural gas and how much comes from other methane sources, such as cows, landfills, wetlands and natural seeps," Lauvaux explains.

The mobile measurements are one of the first steps in a three-year $1.8 million study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, a project mentioned in the March 2014 White House Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.

FULL STORY: Rolling lab