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 Assessing Behavior of the Atmosphere, Rain and Clouds

Monitoring of Aerosols

Aerosols including yellow dust, anthropogenic pollutants such as PM2.5, volcanic ash, and smoke from forest fires have significant influence on living environments. They can reflect or absorb sunlight or reduce visibility. They may settle on vehicles, buildings and crops, causing damage to health. Combining JAXA data with other satellite data from Japan and around the world, JAXA estimates the quantities and types of aerosols and provides data and images to both researchers and the general public. In collaboration with other organizations, JAXA is also developing data assimilation systems for combining satellite data with aerosol transport models. The aim of this effort is to create a common environmental information about when, from where, which type, how much aerosols are coming.


▲Aerosols in and around the US state of California on November 10, 2018, as observed by Shikisai Using RGB images composed from red, green and near-ultraviolet channels, the aerosols generated by fires can be identified by their yellowish-brown color as they spread from land to the ocean.


Observing Greenhouse Gases

GOSAT launched in January 2009 has been providing global carbon dioxide (CO2) density from space. A decade-long global GOSAT data show annual increase of CO2 density that exceeded 400 ppm. Larger seasonal variations in the northern hemisphere indicate larger CO emission and larger uptake by plant photosynthesis in summer. In addition to global grid measurement, GOSAT can target local emission-sources by using its agile pointing mechanism. GOSAT carries the world’s highest resolution spectrometer with more than 10-thousand channels. It can measure both solar reflected light that passes from the top of the atmosphere to the surface and returns back to space and thermal emission from CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. Then CO2 enhancement in the lower troposphere over mega cities are retrieved. Estimating CO2 emission from individual mega city by combing wind speed and partial column density data will contribute to the global stocktake.


▲CO2 concentrations in the lower atmosphere of the Kanto region as observed by GOSAT on March 17, 2015


Observing the Water Cycle and Precipitation

In recent years extreme weather events such as flooding and drought have risen in frequency due to changes in the weather and climate. Under conditions such as these, satellite observation of the water cycle is more critical than ever. EORC draws on two sources to deliver highly accurate, high-resolution precipitation data in near real time, in the form of the Global Satellite Map of Precipitation (GSMaP). This map combines a base of data from the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) mounted on the core GPM satellite with microwave radiometric data from the Global Change Observation Mission—Water (GCOM-W/Shizuku). GSMaP is especially effective in monitoring trends in developing countries, where ground observation facility is not enough. In fields such as disaster and agriculture, where satellite data had not been used in the past, EORC is finding new users of satellite data on the water cycle and precipitation. Regular use is becoming increasingly common among field organizations and private businesses.


▲Observation of heavy rainfall in July 2018 using GSMaP. The figure shows total precipitation over the 72-hour period from 10:00AM, July 5 to 9:59AM, July 8.


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