September 27, 2021

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NASA’s ECOSTRESS Monitors California’s Record-Breaking Heat Wave

18 min read

From cities to deserts, the intense heat gripping California is being closely monitored by an Earth-observing mission aboard the International Space Station.


As record temperatures and large wildfires scorch California, NASA’s Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) has been tracking the heat wave from low Earth orbit. While ECOSTRESS’s primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water, it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like heat waves, wildfires, and volcanoes.

At 3:56 p.m. PDT (6:56 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 14, as the space station passed over Los Angeles, ECOSTRESS was able to take a snapshot of the soaring land surface temperatures across the county, home to more than 10 million people. (Land surface temperature is the temperature of the ground rather than the air above it.) In the first image, ECOSTRESS measured a temperature range of about 70-125 degrees Fahrenheit (21-52 degrees Celsius), with the coolest being at the coasts and mountains. The highest surface temperatures, in dark red, were found northwest of downtown Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. (The instrument also captured the Ranch fire, seen in the center of the image, as it burned.) Land surface temperatures there reached over 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius), with a peak of 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit (53.5 degrees Celsius) between the cities of Van Nuys and Encino.

Those afternoon peaks were within range of morning surface temperatures ECOSTRESS gauged two days later in Death Valley, part of California’s Mojave Desert. As shown in the second image, from Aug. 16 at 8:50 a.m. PDT (11:50 a.m. EDT), ECOSTRESS recorded a maximum temperature of 122.52 degrees Fahrenheit (50.29 degrees Celsius) near Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park.

ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station’s unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.

The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

More information about ECOSTRESS is available here:

https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov

For information on Earth science activities aboard the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/issearthscience

News Media Contact

Ian J. O’Neill / Jane J. Lee
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-2649 / 818-354-0307
ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov / jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov

2020-161

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  • Special Operations Forces: Management Actions Are Needed to Effectively Integrate Marine Corps Forces into the U.S. Special Operations Command
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on special operations forces to conduct military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and to perform other tasks such as training foreign military forces. To meet the demand for these forces, DOD established a Marine Corps service component under the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to integrate Marine Corps forces. Under the authority of the Comptroller General, GAO assessed the extent to which (1) the Marine Corps special operations command has identified its force structure requirements, (2) the Marine Corps has developed a strategic human capital approach to manage personnel in its special operations command, and (3) USSOCOM has determined whether Marine Corps training programs are preparing its forces for assigned missions. GAO performed its work with the Marine Corps and USSOCOM and analyzed DOD plans for this new command.While the Marine Corps has made progress in establishing its special operations command (Command), the Command has not yet fully identified the force structure needed to perform its assigned missions. DOD developed initial force structure plans to establish the Command; however, it did not use critical practices of strategic planning, such as the alignment of activities and resources and the involvement of stakeholders in decision-making processes when developing these plans. As a result of limitations in the strategic planning process, the Command has identified several force structure challenges that will likely affect the Command's ability to perform its full range of responsibilities, and is working to revise its force structure. Although preliminary steps have been taken, the Marine Corps has not developed a strategic human capital approach to manage the critical skills and competencies required of personnel in its special operations command. While the Command has identified some skills needed to perform special operations missions, it has not conducted a comprehensive analysis to determine all of the critical skills and incremental training required of personnel in its special operations forces units. These analyses are critical to the Marine Corps' efforts to develop a strategic human capital approach for the management of personnel in its special operations forces units. Without the benefit of these analyses, the Marine Corps has developed an interim policy to assign some personnel to special operations forces units for extended tour lengths to account for the additional training and skills; however, the policy is inconsistent with the Command's goal for the permanent assignment of some personnel within the special operations community. Until the Command completes an analysis to identify and document the critical skills and competencies needed by its future workforce to perform its full range of special operations missions, the Marine Corps will not have a sound basis for developing or evaluating alternative strategic human capital approaches for managing personnel assigned to its special operations forces units. USSOCOM does not have a sound basis for determining whether the Command's training programs are preparing units for their missions because it has not established common training standards for many special operations skills and it has not formally evaluated whether these programs prepare units to be fully interoperable with other special operations forces. The Command is providing training to its forces that is based on training programs for conventional units that were assigned some special operations missions prior to the Command's activation and incorporates the training that USSOCOM's other service components provide to their forces. However, USSOCOM has not validated that the training for Marine Corps forces prepares them to be fully interoperable with DOD's other special operations forces. Without an evaluation, USSOCOM cannot demonstrate the needed assurances that Marine Corps forces are fully interoperable with its other forces, which may jeopardize the success of future joint missions.
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  • Judicial and Legislative Branches to Continue Discussions on Judiciary Case Management Bill
    In U.S Courts
    The Judicial Conference of the United States expressed its opposition to the version of a bill passed by the House this week, saying it “will have devastating budgetary and operational impact on the Judiciary and our ability to serve the public” by imposing radical and costly changes on the Third Branch’s electronic case management system without adequate funding.
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  • Covid-19 Housing Protections: Moratoriums Have Helped Limit Evictions, but Further Outreach Is Needed
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Eviction moratoriums at the federal, state, and local levels reduced eviction filings during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, some eligible renters may not have benefitted from a recent federal moratorium. GAO's analysis of 63 jurisdictions found that the median rate of eviction filings was about 74 percent lower in the last week of July 2020—when a moratorium included in the CARES Act expired—than in the same week in 2019. Eviction filings remained lower throughout 2020 (relative to 2019) but gradually increased during a separate moratorium ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September 2020 (see fig.). During this moratorium, jurisdictions without separate state or local moratoriums experienced larger increases in eviction filings, which suggests that some renters may not fully understand how to use the CDC moratorium (completing required documentation). CDC extended its moratorium through March 31, 2021, but has taken few steps to promote awareness and understanding of the moratorium and its requirements. Clear, accurate, and timely information is essential to keep the public informed during the pandemic. Without a communication and outreach plan, including federal coordination, CDC will be missing an opportunity to ensure that eligible renters avoid eviction. Year-over-Year Percentage Change in Eviction Filings in 63 Jurisdictions Note: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) moratorium is active through March 31, 2021. Local moratoriums include separate state or local eviction moratoriums. Unlike the CARES Act, CDC's moratorium does not prohibit eviction filings, which could explain some increases. By late January 2021, Treasury had disbursed 99 percent of the $25 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance funds to state and other eligible grantees responsible for making rent and utility payments to recipients. Treasury's initial program guidance issued that month did not fully define some program requirements and included requirements that could have delayed the delivery of funds or deter participation. In late February 2021, Treasury updated its guidance to address several of these concerns, such as by providing grantees with flexibility for prioritizing lower income applicants and allowing written attestation of income. Although the guidance did not clarify certain data collection and spending requirements, officials said they will continue to update guidance to address stakeholder concerns and strike a balance between accountability and administrative efficiency. GAO will continue to actively monitor these efforts. Why GAO Did This Study Millions of renters and property owners continue to experience housing instability and financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address these concerns, Congress and CDC created eviction moratoriums, and Congress appropriated $25 billion to Treasury to disburse to state and local grantees to administer emergency rental assistance programs to help those behind on their rent. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor federal efforts related to COVID-19. This report examines, among other objectives, (1) how eviction moratoriums have contributed to housing stability during the pandemic and (2) Treasury's implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance program. GAO analyzed data on eviction filings and local policies in a sample of 63 jurisdictions (selected based on data availability) from January to December 2020. GAO also analyzed Census Bureau survey data on rental payments and data from federal housing entities on mortgage forbearance. GAO interviewed officials from CDC, Treasury, and organizations representing renters, property owners, and rental assistance grantees.
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    In Travel
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