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About the Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems (CC&E) Focus Area at NASA

Earth's carbon cycle and ecosystems both influence and respond to global environmental changes, and major uncertainties in Earth science stem from uncertainties in the global carbon cycle. These environmental changes are occurring on an unprecedented scale, in both rate and geographical extent. Resolution of uncertainties is needed because of the profound implications for future climate, food production, biodiversity, sustainable resource management, and the maintenance of a healthy, productive environment. Thus, several programs in the Earth Science Division at NASA coordinate their activities and facilitate interdisciplinary inquiry about Earth's carbon cycle and ecosystems.  Their overarching science goal is to:

Detect and predict changes in Earth’s ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles, including land cover, biodiversity, and the global carbon cycle.

This goal leads to several science questions addressed by programs in the CC&E Focus Area:

  • How are global ecosystems changing?
  • What trends in atmospheric constituents and solar radiation are driving global climate
  • What changes are occurring in global land cover and land use, and what are their causes?
  • How do ecosystems, land cover and biogeochemical cycles respond to and affect global environmental change?
  • What are the consequences of land cover and land use change for human societies and the sustainability of ecosystems?
  • What are the consequences of climate change and increased human activities for coastal regions?**
  • How will carbon cycle dynamics and terrestrial and marine ecosystems change in the future?

 The NASA Earth Science Research and Analyses Program is comprised of six interdisciplinary science focus areas. Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems is one of them.

** Above indicates questions the CC&E Focus Area shares with other Earth Science Focus Areas. For more information about NASA’s Earth Science Research Program, see the 2014 NASA Science Plan.

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