Earth System Science & Data
We develop and support innovative research and scientific efforts designed to provide a greater understanding of what happening with the climate as well as ways to mitigate the effects of changes happening now and in the future.
Deep Ocean Profiling
We have partnered with National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) and its Pacific Marine Environmental Lab to deploy more than 30 deep ocean profiling buoys to depths up to 6,000 meters off the east coast of South America to collect temperature, salinity and current/circulation velocity. Deep Argo scales up an existing project and will contribute to a database that will publicly available on the internet.
Polar Ice Sheet Robotic Exploration Network
This autonomous network of long-endurance, underwater gliders and floats will collect oceanic observations for a full annual cycle in Antarctica to enable observations of water properties, currents and mixing in ice-shelf cavities. In August 2015, the University of Washington, supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, launched a novel underwater ice float to study ocean conditions underneath the Arctic Sea. The float was developed to provide sustained real-time observations of physical, chemical and biological changes occurring at the underneath and along the Arctic ice. Lack of such observations precludes accurate modeling of the ongoing rapid change of polar climate.
UAS Glacier Monitoring
Melting glaciers and ice sheets in the polar regions (Antarctica & Greenland) are increasingly contributing to global sea level rise. Climate models don’t yet adequately capture the true dynamics of these hard-to-measure geophysical wonders. One important technique is airborne radar sounding, which allows the imaging of large swaths of terrain underlying icesheets and glaciers; the shape of this underlying terrain, otherwise invisible to researchers, is a primary factor that governs how these bodies of ice respond to a warming climate and whether (and how fast) they move towards the ocean and disintegrate, contributing to sea level rise. Using multiple unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in a precisely controlled swarm can overcome these challenges, along with the use of tailored antenna beam orientations combined with synthetic and physical aperture processing methods.We are supporting the University of Kansas's development of advanced radar systems for UAS platforms. A UAS platform called G1X was successfully tested during the 2013-14 Antarctic field season where performance of the radar and UAS technology was assessed.
A project developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and supported by the Foundation aims to develop a sensor that will enable scientists to analyze how methane emissions fluctuate in the Arctic. Methane is a greenhouse gas with a warming potential up to 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Measurements of methane concentrations over long distances have been elusive due to the difficulty of designing and deploying long-term chemical sensors in the field.