John Bluck

August 14, 2000

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000


Release: 00-55AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to request a
telephone interview with NASA Ames scientist Dr. Philip Russell or his team
members in Pietersburg, Republic of South Africa, who are participating in
the extensive SAFARI 2000 science campaign. The Russell team goals are to
study smoke, haze, water vapor and ozone, and to better understand their
effects on the African climate. The newsroom telephone number in
Pietersburg is: 27-15-288-0122, ext. 2092 for Aug. 16, 17 and 18 ONLY, from
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pietersburg time (11 p.m. to 8 a.m. PDT). Scientists
expect to present a wrap-up news briefing regarding the first week of the
airborne campaign. The briefing will be at the Pietersburg Gateway
International Airport sometime during the afternoon of Aug. 18. The
newsroom will accept interview requests on a first-come, first-served
basis, with the caution that Russell, scientists on his team or on other
teams may become unexpectedly busy with experiments and have to cancel. In
that case, additional scientists may agree to be interviewed. For the
remaining five weeks of the campaign, please direct questions to: Martha
Molete, Media Relations, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South
Africa, phone: 27-11-717-1019, e-mail:; and
Stephen Cole, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, phone:
301/441-4146, e-mail:


African smog and its role in global change are under study by NASA and
international scientists who are now tracking the movement of air pollution
in the southern part of the continent.

The southern African atmosphere is particularly vulnerable to air pollution
due to a persistent high-pressure system there. African smog is a soup of
smokes from industry, mining, agricultural burning and other sources.

“We plan to test and improve satellite measurement accuracy for airborne
particles, including smoke and haze, as well as water vapor and ozone,”
said Philip Russell, who works at the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics
Branch, part of NASA’s Ames Research Center, located in California’s
Silicon Valley. “We want to better understand the effects that smoke, haze
and trace gases have on the African and global climate. We also want to
help improve remote measurements of the Earth’s surface, for example,
measurements of vegetation and ocean color.”

NASA researchers are among more than 100 scientists who are now conducting
extensive and varied field studies as part of the Southern African Regional
Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000) that has been underway for more than a
year, and will continue into September. Flights and science activities are
based in Pietersburg, Republic of South Africa.

Russell’s team is measuring and analyzing sunlight with an airborne
sunphotometer carried on the University of Washington CV-580 aircraft. The
sunphotometer measures the amount of sunlight that penetrates smoke and
other aerosols in the atmosphere at different wavelengths, including
ultraviolet, visible and infrared light.

Russell’s researchers will match airplane flights with satellite
overpasses, and will sample smokes from burning vegetation as well as
industrial emissions. Other investigators on the CV-580 aircraft and on
the ground will simultaneously measure a variety of aerosol properties
during data consistency tests.

In addition to Russell, Ames scientists on his team include Beat
Schmid and Jens Redemann. A second Ames team, led by Peter Pilewskie, is
doing other African field studies. His “radiation group” is flying a solar
spectral flux radiometer instrument on a NASA ER-2 airplane and on the
University of Washington’s CV-580 aircraft. Scientists will use data from
the instrument to find out how much solar energy is absorbed by particles
of smoke and dust and other aerosols, and how much energy clouds reflect.
In addition, the researchers are testing the ability of satellites to make
the same measurements from space.

The NASA Ames studies are a part of the larger SAFARI effort. It includes
analysis of terrestrial ecology and land processes; land cover and land use
change; atmospheric aerosols and trace gases; clouds and radiation;
hydrology; and computer modeling. Researchers are studying these elements
by using ground and airborne measurements complemented by remote sensing
observations from older satellites as well as a new generation of Earth
observation satellites. They include sensors on NASA’s Terra, Landsat 7 and
SEAWIFS satellites as well as the European ENVISAT and POLDER II spacecraft.

The study region for SAFARI 2000 includes Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Scientists from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany
are collaborating to conduct the science initiative. NASA’s Earth
Observing System project is the primary sponsor of U.S. participation in
SAFARI 2000.

More SAFARI 2000 information, including listings of additional experiments
and organizations, is on the Internet at:

A media guide is also on the Internet at:

The Pietersburg Gateway International Airport website is at:

Broadcasters may down link NASA satellite “video file” replay related to
this story on Aug. 14, 2000. Also, satellite re-feeds of the material may
be available; please telephone Ray Castillo at 202-358-4555 in Washington,
DC, to make a re-feed request.

Please note all TV feed times, unless otherwise noted, are Eastern Times.
The NASA Video File normally airs at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00
p.m. and 12:00 a.m. NASA Television is available on GE-2, transponder 9C
at 85 degrees West longitude, with vertical polarization.

Frequency is on 3880.0 Megahertz, with audio on 6.8 Megahertz. Any changes
to the line-up will appear on the NASA video file advisory on the web at

Additional Information for broadcasters: VIDEOFILE shot sheet:

Title: Scientists to begin study of South African environment with SAFARI
TRT – 09:35


NASA’s Earth Observing System program is supporting an intensive field
experiment in southern Africa beginning in August 2000. Satellite,
airborne and ground data will be used to gain new insights into the
region’s environment and its impact on global change. The Southern African
Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000) will study air pollution,
ecosystems, land use, meteorology, ozone and trace gases, and water


This SeaWiFS data animation zooms over Cape Town, the Namibian Desert, the
Kuiseb River, and past the Etosha Pan National Park in Namibia. Note the
long streamers of red/orange tinged sand being blown out over the sea from
the desert, the smoke plumes from biomass burning, and the extensive
burning through Angola and Zambia. This data was collected on June 6, 2000.


LANDSAT 7 natural color data reveals an evaporated lake. Moving north and
around the salt pan, it can be seen where winds blowing across the salt pan
pick up fine dust and salt and blow them across the countryside. Dust and
salt plumes occasionally reach the ocean shore hundreds of kilometers away.
SAFARI-2000 will study this type of fine aerosol. This data was collected
on July 31, 1999.


This Landsat 7 image shows different types of land cover between Wannbad
and Pietersburg, South Africa. Vegetation is green, while arid or
uncultivated land is pink; water bodies are blue or black. Pietersburg’s
Gateway International Airport is the operations center for the SAFARI 2000
intensive field campaign in August – September 2000.


SAFARI-92 studies found that biomass burning in Southern Africa left its
signature over the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists monitored fires over the
entire planet from 1992 to 1993 to better understand the patterns created
by biomass burning. Data were collected by NOAA’s Advanced Very
High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument.


Due to a strong circulation pattern over southern Africa, smoke and
atmospheric gases from industrial activities, fires and natural processes
are transported hundreds of kilometers. Here is a closer look at ozone
monitored in 1997 and 1998 by NASA’s Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer
(TOMS) processes.

(G98-060) Ozone, acts as a protective shield high in our
atmosphere. However, ozone is a pollutant when it is near the ground.
Ozone from large African savanna fires was seen over the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans, and even in Brazil. Scientists tracked this tropical ozone
pollution in 1997 and 1998 with NASA’s Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer


SAFARI 2000 researchers will use daily images such as these of fires over
Southern Africa to plan the six-week field campaign. These images of
Mozambique from NOAA’s AVHRR instrument pick out high-temperature sources.
The second image of the same time and place in AVHRR’s visible range shows
clouds and smoke haze (lower right and upper left).


NASA’s Terra spacecraft, launched in September 1999, is a multinational
orbiting research platform. By synchronizing a sophisticated suite of
sensors and instruments, Terra will help scientists pursue some of the most
complex questions about our planet.


Terra is more than just the next incarnation of Earth’s observing research
satellites. The five instruments on the platform will give scientists the
opportunity to explore synergistic avenues of research in new ways. This
animation shows a succession of layers, each one highlighting a different
type of observed data.


These initial images from Terra’s MOPITT instrument surveyed carbon
monoxide levels around the world earlier this year. In this visualization,
red indicates high carbon monoxide areas and blue indicates low level areas.


NASA’s Terra spacecraft provides new capabilities for measuring the
properties of clouds, cloud types, and the sizes of the particles that make
up clouds. This latter measurement allows scientists to distinguish clouds
made of water droplets from those made of ice crystals. In this image
from Terra’s MODIS instrument, blue represents ice clouds, pink indicates
snow clouds, and green shows water clouds.


NASA’s ER-2 high altitude aircraft join several other planes in the SAFARI
2000 experiment. These planes carry many different instruments to study
the atmosphere, land surface, clouds, aerosols and solar radiation. This
is a view of NASA’s single-pilot ER-2.