Sensing our Earth and making sense of it

AAEAA - Capital Area hosted a presentation on "Sensing our Earth and making sense of it" during March Learn and Network meeting. The presentation was provided by Dr. Amal El Akkraoui.

This talk provided an overview of the Earth system, from science, engineering and societal perspectives. Illustrations showed how global-scale dynamic can manifest in surprising ways: Despite devastating effects, hurricanes were shown to be merely nature's way of seeking balance; oceanic upwelling currents were driving Phytoplankton productivity, thus creating prosperous sites for fisheries, and phosphorus Sahara dust was shown to travel cross-Atlantic to act as fertilizer to the Amazon forest. Understanding this dynamic is key to better predicting its future behavior, especially extreme weather and climate change. Scientific and especially engineering challenges hindering such endeavor were presented. The talk showed how innovative engineering solutions help create a comprehensive monitoring system of the atmosphere: such as the constellations of NASA satellites, nano- or conventional, along with a wide variety of measurement techniques. The use of drones for hurricane tracking was also illustrated.

A brief assessment of the climate was then presented, highlighting aspects of recent change globally (temperatures, sea-ice extent), and in the MENA region. Satellite imagery was used to illustrate vulnerabilities over water resources (Tigris-Euphrates and Nile), and alarming rates of fresh water depletion in the Levant countries. Lastly, in the face of this shifting climate reality, the MENA countries ought to reassess their strategic planning. Morocco’s bet on the future of renewable technologies, especially solar energy with its massive NOUR project, was presented as an example of finding new opportunities all while dealing with the adversity of climate change.

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