How NASA Satellite Images Could Influence Climate Change Policy

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

How NASA  Satellite Images Could Influence  Climate Change Policy
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

To most, NASA's satellite images of Southern California space look like a weather map, but the yellow clusters that hover over downtown L.A. and Long Beach don't signify rain. Instead they represent high levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is fueling climate change.


Carbon dioxide levels are at an all time high, despite the pandemic and researchers have been searching for ways to offset it.

The images released this week are the first of what it's calling the most accurate maps from space that show humans' influence on carbon dioxide levels. NASA researchers hope the new data, centered on the Los Angeles basin, can be used to persuade lawmakers to pass more aggressive policies to fight climate change.

They were captured last February by a first-of-its-kind measurement system dubbed the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3. Located at the International Space Station the device uses a telescope and three spectrometers to measure the electromagnetic spectrum of sunlight to detect carbon dioxide. Launched in May 2019, the project began at NASA in 2012.

It can measure up to 40 locations per day in Southern California, with a focus on L.A. and other areas showing high carbon emissions.

Carbon Dioxide Over the L.A. Metropolitan Areawww.youtube.com

JPL research scientist Matthäus Kiel is a lead researcher on the project which released its first map this week. He told dot.LA that researchers decided to focus on Los Angeles first, not just because the NASA-managed Jet Propulsion Laboratory is in Pasadena but because the megapolis has long-standing emissions data.

"We still have a long way to go to provide emissions estimates that will be directly used, but I think we are in a good way," Kiel said. "There's no place like L.A., (where) their emissions are well reported already."

A growing network of sensors on the ground, including a few at JPL partner Caltech, are used by researchers to verify the data from space. Kiel said the plan is to network with universities across the country that have their own emissions sensors to collect and verify more readings.

So far, the satellite readings have been almost exact mirrors of the data on the ground, proving to scientists that it's possible to take these kinds of readings millions of miles away from the Earth's surface.

It's also key that JPL can double-check its data because many environmental factors, from wind to changing weather, can impact the spread and density of CO2.

Kiel said a zoomed-out view from space provides a more accurate way to visualize changes in carbon emissions around the world and he sees its potential for measuring data in remote locations across continents.

"This data can be used to inform policymakers [and] they can use the data to make informed decisions about, for example, emission reduction policies that many cities have in place," Kiel said.

The planet is at a turning point in its climate change battle. An intergovernmental panel told NASA recently that "taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time."

These costs include rising sea levels and melting glaciers, changes in rainfall, stronger hurricanes and rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which the OCO-3 project at NASA is currently mapping.

By the year 2100, sea levels are expected to rise 1 to 9 feet globally, NASA estimates.

Kiel said he was surprised by just how much local weather changed the CO2 readings that are visible from space, using their OCO-3 instrument.

"Sometimes we saw days where we barely saw elevations of CO2 over L.A. [and] this was interesting to see and something that we haven't seen before that we were not able to monitor before," Kiel said. "it was interesting to see how these values move with the different meteorological conditions."

The Los Angeles metro area is the first place JPL has mapped with OCO-3, but Kiel said the plan is to eventually expand the lens to offer a global view of carbon emissions.

The easiest way to do that is to start in places that already have working sensors on the ground. Kiel noted that NASA might look to map Tokyo, the Bay Area or Boston next, since they already have sensors set up in those areas.

"There's a lot ahead of us," Kiel said. "We usually tend to look to the cities where we have ground-based networks just to make sure we can validate the data before we expand to a wider global sense."

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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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