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August 14, 2000

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000


Release: 00-55AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to request a telephone interview with NASA Ames scientist Dr. Philip Russell or his team members in Pietersburg, Republic of South Africa, who are participating in the extensive SAFARI 2000 science campaign. The Russell team goals are to study smoke, haze, water vapor and ozone, and to better understand their effects on the African climate. The newsroom telephone number in Pietersburg is: 27-15-288-0122, ext. 2092 for Aug. 16, 17 and 18 ONLY, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pietersburg time (11 p.m. to 8 a.m. PDT). Scientists expect to present a wrap-up news briefing regarding the first week of the airborne campaign. The briefing will be at the Pietersburg Gateway International Airport sometime during the afternoon of Aug. 18. The newsroom will accept interview requests on a first-come, first-served basis, with the caution that Russell, scientists on his team or on other teams may become unexpectedly busy with experiments and have to cancel. In that case, additional scientists may agree to be interviewed. For the remaining five weeks of the campaign, please direct questions to: Martha Molete, Media Relations, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, phone: 27-11-717-1019, e-mail:; and Stephen Cole, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, phone: 301/441-4146, e-mail:


African smog and its role in global change are under study by NASA and international scientists who are now tracking the movement of air pollution in the southern part of the continent.

The southern African atmosphere is particularly vulnerable to air pollution due to a persistent high-pressure system there. African smog is a soup of smokes from industry, mining, agricultural burning and other sources.

"We plan to test and improve satellite measurement accuracy for airborne particles, including smoke and haze, as well as water vapor and ozone," said Philip Russell, who works at the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch, part of NASA's Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley. "We want to better understand the effects that smoke, haze and trace gases have on the African and global climate. We also want to help improve remote measurements of the Earth’s surface, for example, measurements of vegetation and ocean color."

NASA researchers are among more than 100 scientists who are now conducting extensive and varied field studies as part of the Southern African Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000) that has been underway for more than a year, and will continue into September. Flights and science activities are based in Pietersburg, Republic of South Africa. -more-

Russell’s team is measuring and analyzing sunlight with an airborne sunphotometer carried on the University of Washington CV-580 aircraft. The sunphotometer measures the amount of sunlight that penetrates smoke and other aerosols in the atmosphere at different wavelengths, including ultraviolet, visible and infrared light.

Russell's researchers will match airplane flights with satellite overpasses, and will sample smokes from burning vegetation as well as industrial emissions. Other investigators on the CV-580 aircraft and on the ground will simultaneously measure a variety of aerosol properties during data consistency tests.

In addition to Russell, Ames scientists on his team include Beat Schmid and Jens Redemann. A second Ames team, led by Peter Pilewskie, is doing other African field studies. His "radiation group" is flying a solar spectral flux radiometer instrument on a NASA ER-2 airplane and on the University of Washington's CV-580 aircraft. Scientists will use data from the instrument to find out how much solar energy is absorbed by particles of smoke and dust and other aerosols, and how much energy clouds reflect. In addition, the researchers are testing the ability of satellites to make the same measurements from space.

The NASA Ames studies are a part of the larger SAFARI effort. It includes analysis of terrestrial ecology and land processes; land cover and land use change; atmospheric aerosols and trace gases; clouds and radiation; hydrology; and computer modeling. Researchers are studying these elements by using ground and airborne measurements complemented by remote sensing observations from older satellites as well as a new generation of Earth observation satellites. They include sensors on NASA's Terra, Landsat 7 and SEAWIFS satellites as well as the European ENVISAT and POLDER II spacecraft.

The study region for SAFARI 2000 includes Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Scientists from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany are collaborating to conduct the science initiative. NASA’s Earth Observing System project is the primary sponsor of U.S. participation in SAFARI 2000.

More SAFARI 2000 information, including listings of additional experiments and organizations, is on the Internet at: and

A media guide is also on the Internet at:

The Pietersburg Gateway International Airport website is at:

Broadcasters may down link NASA satellite "video file" replay related to this story on Aug. 14, 2000. Also, satellite re-feeds of the material may be available; please telephone Ray Castillo at 202-358-4555 in Washington, DC, to make a re-feed request.

Please note all TV feed times, unless otherwise noted, are Eastern Times. The NASA Video File normally airs at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. NASA Television is available on GE-2, transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, with vertical polarization.

Frequency is on 3880.0 Megahertz, with audio on 6.8 Megahertz. Any changes to the line-up will appear on the NASA video file advisory on the web at

Additional Information for broadcasters: VIDEOFILE shot sheet:

Title: Scientists to begin study of South African environment with SAFARI mission

TRT - 09:35


NASA's Earth Observing System program is supporting an intensive field experiment in southern Africa beginning in August 2000. Satellite, airborne and ground data will be used to gain new insights into the region's environment and its impact on global change. The Southern African Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000) will study air pollution, ecosystems, land use, meteorology, ozone and trace gases, and water resources.


This SeaWiFS data animation zooms over Cape Town, the Namibian Desert, the Kuiseb River, and past the Etosha Pan National Park in Namibia. Note the long streamers of red/orange tinged sand being blown out over the sea from the desert, the smoke plumes from biomass burning, and the extensive burning through Angola and Zambia. This data was collected on June 6, 2000.


LANDSAT 7 natural color data reveals an evaporated lake. Moving north and around the salt pan, it can be seen where winds blowing across the salt pan pick up fine dust and salt and blow them across the countryside. Dust and salt plumes occasionally reach the ocean shore hundreds of kilometers away. SAFARI-2000 will study this type of fine aerosol. This data was collected on July 31, 1999.


This Landsat 7 image shows different types of land cover between Wannbad and Pietersburg, South Africa. Vegetation is green, while arid or uncultivated land is pink; water bodies are blue or black. Pietersburg's Gateway International Airport is the operations center for the SAFARI 2000 intensive field campaign in August - September 2000.


SAFARI-92 studies found that biomass burning in Southern Africa left its signature over the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists monitored fires over the entire planet from 1992 to 1993 to better understand the patterns created by biomass burning. Data were collected by NOAA's Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument.


Due to a strong circulation pattern over southern Africa, smoke and atmospheric gases from industrial activities, fires and natural processes are transported hundreds of kilometers. Here is a closer look at ozone monitored in 1997 and 1998 by NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) processes.

GLOBAL SMOG (G98-060) Ozone, acts as a protective shield high in our atmosphere. However, ozone is a pollutant when it is near the ground. Ozone from large African savanna fires was seen over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and even in Brazil. Scientists tracked this tropical ozone pollution in 1997 and 1998 with NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS).


SAFARI 2000 researchers will use daily images such as these of fires over Southern Africa to plan the six-week field campaign. These images of Mozambique from NOAA's AVHRR instrument pick out high-temperature sources. The second image of the same time and place in AVHRR's visible range shows clouds and smoke haze (lower right and upper left).


NASA's Terra spacecraft, launched in September 1999, is a multinational orbiting research platform. By synchronizing a sophisticated suite of sensors and instruments, Terra will help scientists pursue some of the most complex questions about our planet.


Terra is more than just the next incarnation of Earth's observing research satellites. The five instruments on the platform will give scientists the opportunity to explore synergistic avenues of research in new ways. This animation shows a succession of layers, each one highlighting a different type of observed data.


These initial images from Terra's MOPITT instrument surveyed carbon monoxide levels around the world earlier this year. In this visualization, red indicates high carbon monoxide areas and blue indicates low level areas.


NASA's Terra spacecraft provides new capabilities for measuring the properties of clouds, cloud types, and the sizes of the particles that make up clouds. This latter measurement allows scientists to distinguish clouds made of water droplets from those made of ice crystals. In this image from Terra's MODIS instrument, blue represents ice clouds, pink indicates snow clouds, and green shows water clouds.


NASA's ER-2 high altitude aircraft join several other planes in the SAFARI 2000 experiment. These planes carry many different instruments to study the atmosphere, land surface, clouds, aerosols and solar radiation. This is a view of NASA's single-pilot ER-2.


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