While the United States should make better use of space technologies to advance U.S. interests (particularly for improving U.S. disaster warning and response, as I argued this week in a new policy brief Sentries in the Sky: Using Space Technologies for Disaster Response), ground-based sensors will continue to be important for providing a holistic view of environmental, climate change and other important global trends that can affect U.S. security. The U.S. government needs a suite of tools that include ground- and space-based remote sensing technologies, not one or the other.
In this photo taken on September 4, 2012, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute prepares to launch its research vessel with these buoys that will help scientists measure saline concentrations at sea. According to NASA, “The NASA-sponsored expedition will sail to the North Atlantic's saltiest spot to get a detailed, 3-D picture of how salt content fluctuates in the ocean's upper layers and how these variations are related to shifts in rainfall patterns around the planet.”
This type of expedition can help advance scientists’ understanding of ocean chemistry, which may help improve climate modeling that can provide security practitioners more actionable data about the impact of global climate change on particular regions.
Photo: Courtesy of Bill Ingalls and NASA.