Well, they have done it before, but were stopped by the Bush administration in 2001. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has its own satellites and state-of-the-art sensors that it is going to start sharing with climate scientists again, in order to unlock some climate change and environmental mysteries.
Approximately 60 climate scientists (from academia, industry and federal agencies) have received the appropriate clearance now to access this information in order to further understand the current and future effects of climate change on the environment.
Officials state clearly that this is not taking away from other intelligence gathering missions in the least.
Certain top tier scientists will do the work of going through the satellite images and data. The images and data are already being collected, have been collected, or can easily be collected by continuing to record as the satellites pass over wilderness areas. Why Bush stopped climate scientists from having access to these data, we can only guess. As the NY Times reports, some of these data are completely unavailable anywhere else. The benefits they give to scientists trying to evaluate climate change are tremendous.
The original program, Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis (MEDEA), was in effect from 1992 until 2001 when Bush cut it off.
The scientists granted the special access have been recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (an elite agency that advises the federal government). However, the CIA runs the program.
The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in praise of this decision says, “There are no other data available that show the melting and freezing processes.Their release will have a major impact on understanding effects of climate change.”
This is apparently a huge benefit to climate change research and something, I think, you can only be happy about.
The photo in this article was degraded so as to not show actual satellite capabilities before being declassified.
1) Google Earth Climate & Rainforest Tours
2) Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Faster than Ever
3) Oceans Absorbing CO2, Preventing Climate Change — Good, Right? No
Image Credits: USGS via NY Times
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