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From Pulsating Auroras to Earth's Water Cycle: NASA Goddard Science Highlighted at American Geophysical Union Meeting
December 13, 2010

GREENBELT, Md. - Researchers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. are presenting a wide range of science results at the 2010 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The meeting opens Dec. 13 and continues through Friday, Dec. 17, at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Sessions are open to the media.

Following are highlights of presentations by NASA Goddard researchers and their colleagues who use NASA research capabilities.

Ground Water Active as Part of Earth's Water Cycle
Monday, Dec. 13, 7:18 p.m. EST (4:18 p.m. PST)
Session: H14D-02, Location: 3016 (Moscone West)
NASA Goddard's Matt Rodell will describe the seasonal and inter-annual variability of groundwater over the Mississippi River basin, proving that groundwater is an important and dynamic component of the water cycle at continental to global scales. Groundwater is known to be a valuable resource, but its importance as a component of the hydrological cycle to date is not well documented, and little is known of its variability at large spatial scales and climatic timescales. Rodell will deliver the study's results, based on decades of ground well monitoring data, which counter conventional assumptions that groundwater storage does not vary significantly and is not an active part of the terrestrial water cycle.

Pulsating Auroras and Chirping Electromagnetic Waves Help Map Earth's Magnetosphere
Monday, Dec 13, 7:18 p.m. EST (4:18 p.m. PST)
Session: SM14B-02, Location: 307 (Moscone South)
Yukitoshi Nishimura will present the first experimental technique to describe the geometry of Earth's constantly changing magnetic field. Learn how the correlation between a special kind of aurora and chorus waves – electromagnetic waves high in Earth's magnetosphere that sound like birds chirping when played through a speaker – can provide this measurement by mapping magnetic field lines from distant space to a unique point on the ground. Pulsating auroras are beautiful emissions that blink in the atmosphere up to 12 times per minute. Earlier work based on observations both from NASA's THEMIS spacecraft and from the ground solved the mystery of how the pulsating auroras were formed. Nishimura will discuss an extended survey of over 40 chorus wave/pulsating aurora conjunctions, and the lessons learned from this novel technique that links aurora in the ionosphere to a location over 40,000 km away in the magnetosphere.

21st Century Benchmarks of Global Water and Energy Cycles
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. EST (4:30 p.m. PST)
Session: H34D-03, Location: 3020 (Moscone West)
Members of a team of scientists from multiple institutions, headed by NASA's Matt Rodell as part of the NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study's Climatology Project, will unveil and discuss a comprehensive new assessment of the global water and energy cycles – based on satellite observations - that will serve as a 21st Century benchmark to document how changing climate is altering the Earth's water reservoirs and fluxes and to evaluate and improve climate change predictions.

NASA/U.S. Air Force Partnership Improves Space Weather Forecasting
Friday, Dec. 17, 11:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. PST)
Posters: SM51A-1746, SM51A-1747, Location: Poster Hall (Moscone South)
As we approach the solar maximum we face an increased risk of solar storm damage to satellites and radio communication systems. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) Weather Agency, which provides round-the-clock space weather watch for the Department of Defense, and NASA's Space Weather Services at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) at NASA Goddard have begun to collaborate to improve space weather forecasts and benefit from the other. CCMC offers the Air Force access to state-of-the-art models to forecast the travel path of solar storms from the solar corona to the Earth's upper atmosphere. The Air Force Weather Agency, in turn, gives CCMC up to the minute alerts as needed to support their mandate to provide solar weather warnings to NASA's robotic mission fleet. Presentations by Goddard's Michael Hesse and USAF's Joseph Reich.

For more information about each topic, including the time and location of the presentations, consult the AGU meeting program at: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm10/program/index.php

For more information about NASA Goddard, visit:


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