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NASA at 2010 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting: Press Briefings
12.12.10
 
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Please find the list of 2010 American Geophysical Union press briefings below which include NASA research. All NASA AGU press briefings information and multimedia will be available online by the date of each briefing. You may access that information using the links tied to each press briefing title.

General information for news media provided by AGU can be viewed here.

U.S. and international reporters who cannot attend the AGU meeting may participate in all press briefings via Web stream. For instructions, click here. Reporters requesting interviews with scientists at the AGU Meeting should call the AGU Press Room at 415-348-4406. To request interviews with NASA scientists, call Steve Cole at 202-657-2194.

PLEASE NOTE: Relevant links (if any) will be added to the summaries below just prior to each scheduled media briefing.


Press Briefing Summaries


Eruptions from the Far-Side: New Global Views of the Sun
Monday, Dec. 13, 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

New Views of Urban Heat Islands
Monday, Dec. 13, 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST)

Ice Volcanoes and Hot Plasma Explosions: Highlights from NASA's Cassini Mission to Saturn
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 12 noon EST (9 a.m. PST)

Carbon Consumption and Earth's Carrying Capacity: Challenges Ahead
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST)

Glory and Aquarius -- NASA's Two New Climate Sentinels: Workshop for Science Writers
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST)

Unstable Antarctica: What's Driving Ice Loss?
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 12 noon EST (9 a.m. PST)

Opportunity Rover Headed for Something Different on Mars, with Help from Orbit
Thursday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

The 2010 Baja California Quake: Observations/Implications for California
Thursday, Dec. 16, 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST)



Eruptions from the Far-Side: New Global Views of the Sun
TIME:
Monday, Dec. 13, 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: SH13A, SH21C, SH23A

New observations of the Sun indicate that the search for the factors that play a role in the initiation and evolution of eruptive and explosive events, sought after for improved space-weather forecasting, requires knowledge of much, if not all, of the solar surface field. The combination of SDO and STEREO observations enable us to view much of the solar surface and atmosphere simultaneously and continuously.

Panelists:
  • Madhulika Guhathakurta, program scientist, SDO and STEREO missions, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Alan Title, Lockheed Martin, principal investigator, SDO/AIA, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Karel Schrijver, lead scientist, SDO/AIA, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Rodney Viereck, director of research, NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, Boulder, Colo.
› More on this briefing
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New Views of Urban Heat Islands
TIME:
Monday, Dec. 13, 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: B11J, B21E

Weather watchers have long noted that city centers tend to be warmer than their surrounding environs. These “urban heat islands” -- which are produced when pavement and other city infrastructure replaces open land and vegetation -- can boost surface temperatures by a few degrees and in some cases by as much as 20 °F (11 °C) or more. Recent findings, based on satellite data, offer new insight into how heat islands can vary across cities, threaten public health, and increase air conditioning usage in ways that might inadvertently exacerbate dangerous heat waves.

Panelists:
  • Ping Zhang, research scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center/Earth Resource Technology, NASA, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Benedicte Dousset, researcher, Hawai`i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai`i at Manoa
  • Cécile De Munck, scientist, National Centre of Meteorological Research (CNRM), Météo-France, Toulouse, France
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Ice Volcanoes and Hot Plasma Explosions: Highlights from NASA's Cassini Mission to Saturn
TIME:
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 12 noon EST (9 a.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: P22A, SM31C

This briefing will present two new results from NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn with never-before-seen videos that illustrate the data. The briefing includes discussion of a potential ice volcano -- or cryovolcano -- on Saturn's moon Titan. Scientists have been debating for years whether cryovolcanoes exist on ice-rich moons and if they do, what characteristics they have. The panelists will discuss why this area appears to be a particularly convincing example of a cryovolcano. The second topic links periodic explosions of plasma, or hot ionized gas, with mysterious, periodic magnetic field and radio signals detected from Saturn. Cassini has revealed the hot plasma clouds typically invisible to the human eye, enabling scientists to make a major breakthrough in understanding Saturn's behavior.

Panelists:
  • Randolph Kirk, geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center, Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • Jeffrey Kargel, planetary scientist, University of Arizona, Tuscon
  • Pontus Brandt, senior staff scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
  • Marcia Burton, Cassini fields and particles investigation scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
› More on this briefing



Carbon Consumption and Earth's Carrying Capacity: Challenges Ahead
TIME:
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST)
RELATED SESSION: B31H

New NASA research details that we are, at an increasing rate, consuming more of the Earth's annual output of plant material for food, clothing, paper, packaging and biofuels. This consumption has increased starkly even since 1995, the year for which NASA scientists first made this benchmark global measurement. The increased consumption is being driven both by sheer population growth but also higher per capita consumption across the globe. Great discrepancies remain, for instance, between the average North American's and the average Southeast Asian's consumption. As economies modernize and population continues to surge, scientists say the percentage of annual plant production consumed could rise significantly in coming decades. The trend raises questions about pushing Earth's carrying capacity, depleting biodiversity, transitioning toward more monoculture and managed landscapes, creating greater regional imbalances between production and consumption, and leaving societies vulnerable to climate change.

Panelists:
  • Marc Imhoff, project scientist, Terra Mission, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Rama Nemani, senior research scientist, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
  • Jennifer Harden, project chief, United States Geological Survey Soil Carbon Research at Menlo Park, Menlo Park, Calif.

› Related feature
› Briefing materials



Glory and Aquarius -- NASA's Two New Climate Sentinels: Workshop for Science Writers
TIME:
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: 962621, 947200, 952351, 970688, 966450, 960828, OS54B, OS54B-02, OS54B-03, OS53E, OS53E-04

NASA plans to launch two new spacecraft in 2011 to expand our understanding of Earth’s climate. Glory, set to launch no earlier than February, will study the roles of two critical elements of Earth’s climate system: the sun’s total solar irradiance and atmospheric airborne particles called aerosols. Both solar irradiance and aerosols have significant direct and indirect effects on Earth’s climate, and the two instruments on Glory will provide new insights into these complex processes. Then in June, NASA and the Space Agency of Argentina, Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), will jointly launch the Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D mission to make NASA’s first space-based measurements of how the concentration of dissolved salt varies across Earth’s ocean surface. This information will offer new insights into ocean circulation, the global water cycle and climate. During this science reporter/writers' workshop, scientists from both missions will help reporters better understand the fundamental processes both spacecraft will study and how they are linked to Earth’s climate. They will also provide helpful background on the individual mission concepts, instruments and measurement approaches.

Participants:
  • Michael Mishchenko, project scientist, Glory Mission, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y.
  • Greg Kopp, instrument scientist, Glory Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM), Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Gary Lagerloef, principal investigator, Aquarius mission, Earth & Space Research, Seattle, Wash.
  • Yi Chao, project scientist, Aquarius mission, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
› More on this briefing



Unstable Antarctica: What's Driving Ice Loss?
TIME:
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 12 noon EST (9 a.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: C22B, C13D, C11A, C44A

New results based on data from airborne and satellite missions show a clear picture of mechanisms driving ice loss in West Antarctica. Scientists have previously shown that West Antarctica is losing ice, but how that ice is lost remained unclear. Now, using data from a range of NASA's Earth observing satellites and from the ongoing Operation IceBridge airborne mission, scientists have pinpointed ice loss culprits above and below the ice. Continued monitoring of Antarctica's rapidly changing areas is expected to improve predictions of sea level rise.

Panelists:
  • Ted Scambos, glaciologist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
  • Bob Bindschadler, glaciologist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Michael Studinger, project scientist, Operation IceBridge, Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
› More on this briefing
› Related feature
› Briefing materials



Opportunity Rover Headed for Something Different on Mars, with Help from Orbit
TIME:
Thursday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: P51F, P54A

As NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity gets closer to its long-term destination, observations from orbit are adding to the destination area's allure. Researchers using the CRISM mineral-mapping spectrometer (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are identifying patches of minerals of interest for the rover to investigate at specific locations on the rim of the miles-wide and still miles-away destination crater, Endeavour. Also, orbital observations suggest mineral exposures much closer to the rover that Opportunity may reach this month.

Participants:
  • Ray Arvidson, deputy principal investigator, Mars Exploration Rover mission, and CRISM team member, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Janice Bishop, CRISM team member, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif.
  • John Callas, project manager, Mars Exploration Rover mission, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
› More on this briefing



The 2010 Baja California Quake: Observations/Implications for California
TIME:
Thursday, Dec. 16, 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST)
RELATED SESSIONS: T51E-08, T53B-2129, T51E-02, T53B-2132, T53B-2133

On April 4, 2010, a long-locked segment of the boundary between the massive Pacific and North American tectonic plates ruptured violently just south of California's border with Mexico. While not "The Big One" that Southern Californians have long feared, the resulting magnitude 7.2 earthquake -- the region's largest in nearly 120 years -- was nonetheless an important earthquake. Felt throughout northern Baja California and a broad region of the American Southwest, the quake killed two, injured hundreds and caused substantial damage. But beyond its obvious physical effects, the quake has proven to be one of the most complex ever documented along the Pacific/North American tectonic plate margin, providing scientists a unique opportunity to better understand earthquake processes along this volatile plate boundary. New techniques of remote sensing and image analysis developed by NASA and other agencies have revealed numerous surprises about the quake and have greatly aided field geologists in mapping and understanding the rupture. In this briefing, observations of the quake and its aftermath by scientists at NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, California Geological Survey and the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada, Baja California, will be detailed, along with results of new data analyses that show how this quake has increased the potential for additional large earthquakes throughout Southern California.

Panelists:
  • Eric Fielding, geophysicist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • John Fletcher, professor, Geology Department, Earth Sciences Division, Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada, Baja California (CICESE), Mexico
  • Jay Parker, software engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Jerry Treiman, geologist, California Geological Survey, Los Angeles, Calif.
› More on this briefing