Cal­i­for­nia part­ners with Bloomberg to col­lect more cli­mate, fire data from space

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - BY AN­DREW SHEELER [email protected]­bune­

Two years ago, then-Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Jerry Brown vowed that the state would “launch its own damn satel­lite” if Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion cut off ac­cess to cli­mate data.

Now, the state is adding new ca­pa­bil­i­ties to the cli­mate data it’s track­ing from space.

The Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­sources Board an­nounced the part­ner­ship with billionair­e Michael Bloomberg and San Fran­cisco-based earth imag­ing com­pany Planet to launch a project called Satel­lites for Cli­mate Ac­tion.

It builds on a pro­gram for­mer Gov. Brown in Septem­ber at a cli­mate change fo­rum in San Fran­cisco. At the time, the state planned to track green­house gases like meth­ane.

“Op­er­at­ing the largest con­stel­la­tion of earth ob­serv­ing satel­lites in or­bit, Planet ac­quires near-daily im­agery cov­er­ing earth’s en­tire land­mass,” ac­cord­ing to the Air Re­sources Board. “Build­ing on this tech­nol­ogy, Satel­lites for Cli­mate Ac­tion will aim to fill crit­i­cal data gaps in on­go­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal re­search and cli­mate mon­i­tor­ing by an­a­lyz­ing coal­fired plant op­er­a­tions glob­ally and mea­sur­ing es­sen­tial cli­mate vari­ables.”

The new part­ner­ship will in­clude as­sess­ing for­est health to de­ter­mine fire risk, ac­cord­ing to the Air Re­sources Board, as well as mon­i­tor­ing ef­forts to re­move car­bon from the at­mos­phere.

The project is funded by pri­vate phil­an­thropic do­na­tions and at this time Cal­i­for­nia state govern­ment is not ex­pected to con­tribute money.

The state’s role is ex­pected to come in the form of the “the time and work of ex­pert sci­en­tific and other staff,” Air Re­sources Board spokesman Stan­ley Young said by email.

The project will also help to launch more satel­lites into space, “since Bloomberg’s sup­port is at a global level,” Young said.

Cal­i­for­nia’s in­ter­est in con­trol­ling its own satel­lites dates to the early days of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, when his govern­ment set off fears that it would re­strict ac­cess to cli­mate data col­lected by NASA. Sci­en­tists wor­ried they’d lose the data be­cause the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion took down cer­tain en­vi­ron­men­tal in­for­ma­tion on the White House web­site.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has not restricted ac­cess to cli­mate data, al­though Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can has re­ported the ad­min­is­tra­tion deleted ref­er­ences to cli­mate change in press re­leases, and it has with­held other sci­en­tific re­ports.

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