Watching the Earth Breathe: Validation of the Space-Based Carbon Observatory
Scientists who study climate change need detailed information about carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere. NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), launched in July 2014, is the first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide from space. OCO-2's mission is to characterize regional CO2 sources and sinks, and to quantify variability in seasonal cycles. Critical to OCO-2's success is validation of space-based methods that could be used for future monitoring. Students will contribute to this important effort through direct measurement of CO2 with mobile sensors. We will measure CO2 at the surface and aloft (using a drone) in the footprint of the OCO-2 when it is overhead. Students will learn how to compare surface point measurements and vertical profiles of CO2 with satellite column measurements. Quality control and quality assurance principles to ensure data quality in CO2 measurements will be fundamental to the course.