TAMPA: A pair of identical, sportscar-sized satellites are poised to zoom around the Earth and track changes in water and ice, offering new insights into global warming and sea level rise, NASA said Monday.
Groundwater, oceans, lakes, rivers and ice sheets will be monitored by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO), a joint mission between the US space agency and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
The satellites are scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday at 12:47 pm Pacific time (1947 GMT). A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will propel the satellites to an orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth. The pair will fly 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart, or about the distance from Los Angeles to San Diego.
NASA has spent $430 million on the mission, and Germany has spent about $91 million. The new pair of satellites will pick up where the first GRACE mission left off, having completed its 15-year mission in 2017. The first GRACE mission gave scientists a trove of data about the ever-dwindling ice mass.
Monsoon Plantation: PTC to give free saplings!
PESHAWAR: To increase forests cover and trees in the country, Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC) has announced giving out trees for free to people intending to plant at their homes or workplaces.
According to details PTC has set up four nurseries in Pakistan for distribution of free trees among people. The tree species which will be given for free to people include pine, Sukh Chain, kachnar, arjun, bakain etc.
Loss of Earth’s intact forests speeds up
PARIS: Earth’s intact forests shrank annually by nearly 90,000 square kilometres – an area the size of Austria – from 2014 to 2016, 20 per cent faster than during the previous 13 years, according to findings presented at a conference in Oxford this week.
Despite UN-led efforts to halt deforestation, nearly ten per cent of undisturbed forests have been fragmented, degraded or simply chopped down since 2000, according to the analysis of satellite imagery. Average daily loss over the first 17 years of this century was more than 200 sq km (75 sq miles)
“Degradation of intact forest represents a global tragedy, as we are systematically destroying a crucial foundation of climate stability,” said Frances Seymour, a senior distinguished fellow at the World Resources Institute, and a contributor to the research. “Forests are the only safe, natural, proven and affordable infrastructure we have for capturing and storing carbon.”
The last forest frontiers also play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity, weather stability, clean air, and water quality. Some 500 million people worldwide depend directly on forests for their livelihood.
So-called “intact forest landscapes” – which can include wetlands and natural grass pastures – are defined as areas of at least 500 sq km (200 sq miles) with no visible evidence in satellite images of large-scale human use.
Floods kill 18 in Ivory Coast
ABIDjAN: Flooding caused by overnight torrential rain killed 18 people in Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
The downpour which started at 11:00 pm on Monday continued until 6:00 am on Tuesday, causing flash floods up to 2.5 metres (more than eight feet) deep. Rescue teams saved 136 people, two people were hospitalised, and searches were under way for other casualties, he said, adding that emergency medical centres had been set up across the seaside city. A city of five million, Abidjan suffers from infrastructure problems and many homes are built in flood-prone areas.
The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood. “Many residents are perched on the roofs of their homes,” Fiacre Kili, the head of the civil protection agency said.
In Cocody and neighbouring Riviera, several homes were flooded and boundary walls toppled, with many cars washed away from driveways, an AFP correspondent said. “I have never seen anything like this in my life,” said a resident, whose car was swept 600 metres from the house.