The Showtime television series “Years of Living Dangerously” premiered this month focusing on the role of greenhouse gases in global warming and the danger to the planet posed by rapid climate change. The series’ opening segment shows actor Harrison Ford’s visit to NASA Ames Research Center where he participated in a Project AJAX mission and watched the display of climate data compiled by the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) project. Both AJAX and NEX are climate research projects with BAER Institute scientists playing key roles.
Project AJAX (“Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment”) is a collaboration involving NASA, private entities, and BAER Institute using a high-speed aircraft to make regular measurements of atmospheric ozone and greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), over California and Nevada. BAER Institute’s Emma Yates and Pat Finch are team members of the AJAX project, and in the series’ opening minutes, Dr. Yates is shown readying Ford for a mission flight over the Nevada desert.
Ford later visits the “Hyper-wall”, a wall-sized computer display used by the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) project to display climate data, such as the amount of deforestation occurring world-wide, as well as climate model simulations of expected world-wide temperature increases as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise. BAER Institute’s Sangram Ganguly is a key participant in the NEX project, currently developing an estimate of forest biomass for the entire United States using data from the Landsat 8 satellite.
The series’ opening episode is available on Youtube here: