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NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of world's oceans
Date:9/19/2007

GREENBELT, Md. -- The NASA-managed Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument settled into orbit around Earth in 1997 and took its first measurements of ocean color. A decade later, the satellite's data has proved instrumental in countless applications and helped researchers paint a picture of a changing climate. NASA recognized the satellite's tenth anniversary today with briefings at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

NASA and GeoEye's SeaWiFS instrument has given researchers the first global look at ocean biological productivity. Its data have applications for understanding and monitoring the impacts of climate change, setting pollution standards, and sustaining coastal economies that depend on tourism and fisheries.

"SeaWiFS allows us to observe ocean changes and the mechanisms linking ocean physics and biology, and that's important for our ability to predict the future health of the oceans in a changing climate," said Gene Carl Feldman, SeaWiFS project manager at Goddard.

Researchers used SeaWiFS data to identify factors controlling the unusual timing of the 2005 phytoplankton bloom in the California Current System that led to the die-off of Oregon coast seabirds. The blooming tiny microscopic plants are key indicators of ocean health, form the base of marine food webs, and absorb carbon dioxide a major greenhouse gas from Earth's atmosphere.

"Long-term observations of the California coast and other sensitive regions is essential to understanding how changing global climate impacted ecosystems in the past, and how it may do so in the future," said Stephanie Henson of the University of Maine, lead author of a study published last month in the American Geophysical Unions "Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans." "This type of large-scale, long-term monitoring can only be achieved using satellite instrumentation," she added.

The SeaWiFS instrument orbits Earth fourteen times a
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Contact: Lynn Chandler
lynn.chandler-1@nasa.gov
301-286-2806
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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