Roger Pielke Jr. recently pointed to the cancellation of "Triana", the satellite designed to sit out in L2 (one of the Lagrangian points) and observe the whole earth orb. He did it in passing while trying to sideswipe Bob Parks' op-ed in the NY Times. To quote Roger
Park chooses to go after cheap political points rather than engage the real substance of policy issues involving the convoluted and controversial history of Triana........ (much interesting stuff which you can read on Pielke Jr.'s blog)
Park bemoans the termination of Triana and asks ominously, "Why did NASA kill a climate change project?". He suggests a sinister conspiracy within the Bush Administration to "avoid the truth about global warming" and to transfer their "hated" of Al Gore onto the project he first proposed in 1998.
While perspectives on Triana are no doubt shaped by its unique origins, the reality is that has never occupied a high priority role in reserach priorities set forth by the climate science community, its costs ballooned and took resources from other earth and space science programs that had gone through community peer review, and it required a space shuttle flight of which there are exceedingly few left.So what's the point of rehashing this? Well, your innocent ol' cottentail was sitting in the hare loo reading EOS (the house journal of the American Geophysical Union), when he came across an interesting article by Palle, Goode, Montanes-Rodriguez and Koonin: Can Earth's Albedo and Surface Temperatures Increase Together? It is clear that global temperature is increasing, but the trend in the albedo is uncertain. There are contradictory measurements, to quote:
To derive ideal estimates of the Earth's reflectance, it would be necessary to observe reflected radiances at all angles from all points on the Earth, which is technically impossible. Therefore, all measurements from which albedo can be inferred require assumptions and/or modeling. during recent decades, there have been some efforts to measure the Earth's albedo from space; but a long-term data series of the Earth's albedo is difficult to obtain due to the complicated intercalibrations of the different satellite data and the long gaps in the series.They go on to discuss whether the Earth's albedo has increased in the past decade (maybe) and how this could be reconciled with global warming (possible). Interesting article important problem, and it is very clear that we have a tenuous grasp on the measurement of the albedo, at least to the accuracy needed.
So then, I turn to page two, only to see the headline NASA Terminates Two Earth Observation Missions. One of them, of course is DSCOVR (nee Triana, name changed for various reasons)
And what does the article say about DSCOVR?
The satellite would provide a continuous synoptic view of the Earth and facilitate climate science by measuring energy reflected (albedo) over an entire hemisphere. No other satellites can currintly obtain these measurements, which are needed to determine the effect of albedo on climate, according to DSCOVR principal investigator Francisco Valero of UCSD Scripps.The AGU must hate Roger Pielke Jr.