NASA and Maryland Researcher Recognized for Data that Provides Clues to Earth's Changing Climate, Forests, and Crops

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WASHINGTON -- A NASA-led team has been recognized with a prestigious
award for helping scientists better understand our home planet. NASA
and the U.S. Department of the Interior presented the William T.
Pecora Award to the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System, or
CERES, team and to Forrest Hall, senior research scientist at the
University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The two agencies present individual and group Pecora Awards to honor
outstanding contributions in the field of remote sensing and its
application to understanding Earth. The award was established in 1974
to honor the memory of William T. Pecora, former director of the U.S.
Geological Survey and under secretary of the Department of the

This year's award was presented Dec. 17 in San Francisco during the
annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The presentation
was made by Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey,
and Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division at
NASA Headquarters in Washington. Norman Loeb and Bruce Wielicki of
NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., accepted the award on
behalf of the CERES team.

Led from Langley, the CERES team has compiled a critical data set for
monitoring and predicting climate change. The data set, which comes
from five instruments on three spacecraft, is being used to improve
our understanding of the natural and human-induced changes in the
climate through accurate measurements of the Earth's radiative energy
balance. This balance is the amount of energy Earth receives from the
sun and keeps in the atmosphere or radiates back into space. Along
with measurements of oceans, land, snow, ice, clouds, aerosols and
meteorology, CERES data products provide a scientific basis for
developing global environmental policies.

"CERES is a major NASA success story," said Freilich. "The team has
made an exceptional contribution to understanding the Earth system.
This interagency, academic, international effort has resulted in
critical data that, among other benefits, has supported the
conclusions of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

The CERES instruments provide highly accurate measurements of the
radiative energy balance at multiple layers in the atmosphere. In
addition, the CERES team developed a rapid-response product that
provides a measure of the amount of solar energy at Earth's surface.
These data are used by agricultural resource managers to gauge soil
moisture and by engineers monitoring and designing solar power

Forrest Hall has been instrumental in advancing remote sensing of
Earth since the inception of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite
(now known as the Landsat program) that NASA launched in 1972. Hall
developed technologies for the remote sensing of vegetation, provided
high-quality global data sets to the community and contributed to the
science on which remote sensing was founded -- both through his
leadership of major field programs and his own research.

Hall's research contributed to solving a number of crucial problems in
remote-sensing science concerned with interpreting images gathered
over vegetated areas. He was involved from the very start of land
surface remote sensing while working at NASA's Johnson Space Center
in Houston on large-scale agricultural assessments. These pioneering
efforts by NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture involved some
of the earliest work in comparing surface, airborne and satellite

Hall also led the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study, or BOREAS, which
resulted in a major advance in our understanding of the role of the
far northern boreal forests in climate change. Hall's efforts in this
study led to a better understanding of North America's carbon, water
and energy cycles.

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


Source: NASA

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