NASA prepares for the effects of climate change

When Hurricane Ida Making landfall in August, it hit NASA’s Michoud Collection Facility in New Orleans with rain, strong winds, and close strength in the regionForcing the site to work with generators. No one was hurt, and no parts of the Space Launch System rockets, which are being manufactured there and planned for subsequent lunar missions, were unaffected. But more storms of extreme weather are sure to come.

While NASA scientists naturally focus on space, everything they do starts on Earth. As long as climate change continues, everyone will have to prepare for the worst case scenario. following the guidance of Biden administration, last week NASA Other federal agencies have released climate action plans. They are mostly focused on adapting to a future in which some climate change is unavoidable.

“Our goal was to delve into all the different threats that any individual site might face,” says Gavin Schmidt, a senior climate advisor at NASA, who contributed to the report. “We are one of the agencies that is not just a victim of climate change, but we are at the forefront of understanding climate change and bringing science to the table to help us make better decisions.”

NASA and other parts of the federal government sought to develop climate plans during the Obama administration, and they are now reviving those efforts. NASA officials initially conducted the adaptation assessments in 2011, which were updated in 2015, and are now being updated again. The agency’s newly released report highlights five areas of focus, including planning for climate risks as new missions progress, adapting infrastructure as much as possible, and ensuring access to space, which could be disrupted if, for example, a flooded road delays fuel delivery. Missiles to the launch pad.

With nearly two-thirds of NASA’s assets within 16 feet of sea level — including the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Houston — hurricanes, flood risks and rising seas make the agency worry a lot. “Globally and locally, we’ve put very valuable assets, including runways and launch pads, in the coastal region,” says Catherine Mash, a climate scientist at the University of Miami, not affiliated with NASA who served as lead author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. the climate Latest evaluation report.

NASA’s action plan describes the costs of recent extreme weather events, potentially exacerbated by climate change, that come with significant repair bills. Michoud’s assembly facility alone cost nearly $400 million in costs in the aftermath of two hurricanes and one hurricane. Recent hurricanes and floods have devastated other infrastructure as well, with multiple locations on the Gulf and East Coast each suffering more than $100 million in damage. In Southern California, the 2009 station fire burned within one meter of the perimeter of JPL, which had to be closed. As an inland location, JPL may have other climate issues to contend with as well, including droughts and heat waves.

While NASA will only move buildings or launch complexes as a very costly last resort, the agency is working more on “structural hardening,” making buildings more resilient to severe weather or electrical loss, so they can temporarily operate off-grid. “It could mean raising elevation, adding pumping capacity and putting in bulks. It could be about creating islands. It could be about creating islands,” says Jesse Keenan, a sociologist at Tulane University with expertise in climate change adaptation and the built environment. Power generation is self-sufficient, plus redundancy.” (Kennan is not affiliated with the NASA report.)

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