Science Program

The areas of scientific inquiry and technological advance within Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences include the broad areas of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, terrestrial hydrology, physical oceanography, cryosphere, and observational technology. Within each of these broad areas of research are a variety of subspecialties, as well as linkages across the field of Earth science. Bridging studies tie these traditional disciplinary perspectives into more integrated studies of the hydrosphere and biosphere. The remainder of this document is a review of activities in these broad areas of research and development, discussing the recent history and present activities, and also providing a look into the future priorities for each area of research. Six main themes are pursued: a) Cryospheric Research, b) Oceanographic Research, c) Terrestrial Hydrology Research, d) Observational Technology Development, e) Terrestrial Biosphere Sciences Research, and f) Long-term Data Records and Global Science Processing.

Due to the many linkages between the diverse aspects of Earth science, the research program links to a wide spectrum of topics that extend across five of the six focus areas of the NASA Sciences Mission Directorate. To take sea ice as but one example, even a small amount of freezing of the polar ocean forms a thin layer of sea ice that drastically reduces the atmosphere-ocean heat exchange, and the seasonal cycle of sea ice exchanges vast amounts of salt and fresh water with the oceans, thus affecting ocean circulation that, in turn, affects biological activity in the coastal zone - the primary source of oceanic human food stock. As this example illustrates, activities are closely intertwined with the broader scope of SMD research, but also to several closely related activities in other portions of the Goddard Earth-Sun Exploration Division.  research on atmospheric components of the water cycle address technologies and approaches for microwave measurement of ice and high latitude precipitation, and are therefore closely linked to research within Goddard's Laboratory for Atmospheres. Our physical oceanography and hydrology research interfaces with the Goddard Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). Our ocean color and carbon cycle activities have recently been enhanced by the addition of the terrestrial components from the former Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics.

Briefing Slides

Cryospheric Sciences - Download (PPT file, 24.7MB)
Ocean Ecology - Download (PPT file, 14.2MB)
Hydrological Sciences - Download (PPT file, 11.3MB)
Biospheric Sciences - Download (PPT file, 22.6MB)
Terrestrial Information Systems - Download (PPT file, 25.4MB)
Instrumentation Sciences - Download (PPT file, 14.6MB)