UM TERRESTRIAL DATA TO ILLUMINATE GIANT CAMPUS GLOBE
In honor of Earth Day on Friday, April 22, University of Montana climate-change scientists intend to display a dataset featuring 10 years of global terrestrial plant production in a giant globe on campus.
The 5-foot-diameter globe, the OmniGlobe, is located in the main floor lobby of the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center. Internal projectors allow it to display everything from Earth weather systems to other planets and even a UM research lab. It was the first OmniGlobe at a U.S. university.
The dataset produces imagery showing daily photosynthesis of the entire Earth biosphere from 2000 to 2010. Biospheric photosynthesis was calculated using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Radiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra environmental satellite. UM’s Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, directed by Steve Running, wrote software for MODIS.
Running said every vegetated kilometer of the planet is imaged each day. This is combined with surface weather information on solar radiation, temperature and water stress to compute photosynthesis, then summed and reported every eight days.
“I think the summertime greening and autumn sequence of the northern hemisphere is the most striking,” Running said, “as well as the periodic droughts occurring in many regions.”
He said the seasonal cycle of land photosynthesis correspond strongly with the annual oscillation of atmospheric carbon dioxide, as the biosphere absorbs carbon dioxide strongly during the summer and then the gas is released as respiration and decomposition in the winter.
The unique and ongoing view of the Earth was produced by Running, his fellow NTSG researcher Maosheng Zhao and former NTSG researcher Ramakrishna Nemani. The images were compiled by Horace Mitchell of the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center.
Running said their dataset already is a featured exhibit on an OmniGlobe at Biosphere II in Arizona.