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NCAR developed and Vaisala commercialized the dropsonde, a meteorological instrument that is deployed from an aircraft into hurricanes to improve both track and intensity forecasts

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What do humans have in common with a hand-held camera? Or a camera mounted on a satellite into space?  Hhuman eyes and cameras can capture the timing of when plants grow buds, leaf out, flower, fruit and die back, the science known as plant phenology.

But why do we need fancy cameras for us to study phenology if we can see it with our own eyes. Let's first talk about why we study phenology. You see scientists have used their eyes to record when plants bud, leaf out, flower and fruit for centuries. These annual plant life cycle events, known as phenophases, are often triggered by seasonal changes in rainfall, temperature and day length. Their timing is important to study because it's impacted by changes climate, and impacts on phenophase timing by climate can impact humans, plants and animals too. For example scientists observed that some plants are leafing out earlier in recent years. This means that fruit trees and crops that we depend upon for food might begin to flower earlier in the season, leaving them at risk for damage during spring frosts. Birds that depend upon those flowers and fruits are also impacted, when they can't find those mid-migration snack they flew so far to eat.

After 10 years of challenging development, the four identical spacecraft of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission spacecraft launched in 2015. They are now flying in a tighter and tighter formation to reveal the microphysics of our space environment, including the dynamic phenomenon of “magnetic reconnection” in the magnetic fields surrounding Earth. MMS provides unprecedentedly fast observations – at 30 images per second — showing the first-ever three-dimensional views of magnetic reconnection, in which magnetic fields come together and explosively release energy and send particles in all directions. MMS observations began with the spacecraft 160 kilometers (100 miles) apart and have progressed as they closed to just 10 kilometers (6 miles) apart.

In preparation for a host of ground-breaking results expected in 2016, on December 17 a panel of MMS team members will discuss early results from the mission, explain what happens when reconnection joins the sun’s magnetic field with Earth’s and why we need four ultrahigh-resolution spacecraft flying in formation to learn how reconnection works.

Every day, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are used safely in millions of cell phones, laptops, and electric-drive vehicles (EDVs). At the same time, Li-ion batteries have a tendency to overheat in very rare occasions, which has led to electronics product recalls and the grounding of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner airplane shortly after its maiden flight. The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently patented the Internal Short Circuit (ISC) device to enhance these battery designs by testing the effects of a latent internal short circuit and related escalating temperatures, which can lead to thermal runaway and hazards for drivers, air passengers—and astronauts. 

Space explorers' very lives depend on the reliability of Li-ion batteries used to power everything from communications systems to lights and breathing apparatus. The similarities between Li-ion batteries used in spacesuits and EDVs led NREL to join forces with NASA in finding new, more precise ways to trigger internal short circuits, predict reactions, and establish safeguards in the design of battery cells and packs. Now, the resulting first-of-its-kind ISC device is being used by NREL, NASA, and manufacturers to study battery responses to these latent flaws and determine solutions. 

On 5 November, 1965, the group now known as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) cautioned President Lyndon B. Johnson that continued accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from fossil-fuel burning would “almost certainly cause significant changes” and “could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings.” The reality of human-induced climate change has now been soundly confirmed, yet public skepticism persists, and policy responses remain elusive.

On October 29, 2015, a daylong symposium will review what scientific research has revealed about climate change over the past 50 years, and offer a forward-looking assessment of the range of scientific, technological, communication, and policy options for the future.