UNAVCO (Explained in 3 Minutes)

UNAVCO (Explained in 3 Minutes)


One of the big questions that people always
ask is, “Where am I?” The best way to answer that question is with
geodesy. Geodesy’s actually the study of Earth, and
where we are on Earth. The shape of the Earth, the size of the Earth,
the orientation, how it’s placed in space, and the gravity field. If you really want to understand some of the
big scientific questions related to Earth and natural hazards we really want to be able
to pinpoint exactly where we are and exactly how much the Earth is moving. Geodesy made it a science of now. We could now instead of saying what the Atlantic
Ocean did over the past 200 million years, we can say the Atlantic Ocean is an inch wider
than it was at this time last year. We’re learning about the processes of the
Earth’s deep interior, we’re learning about the processes that produce geological
hazards, we’re learning about the processes that shape the Earth’s surface. We will get better and better at describing
how the Earth works as a function of space and time simply by making those measurements
on the surface. And so that’s where UNAVCO comes in. UNAVCO is an organization of universities
that operate a facility on behalf of the National Science Foundation to support all the US scientists
who use the geodesy technologies in research all over the world. I use geodesy to study plate boundary zone
deformation and magma-tectonic interactions. How we get large earthquakes in the middle
of continents. Flooding. High-resolution topography. Crustal deformation. Biomass estimation. Volcano deformation and earthquake processes. And we help them with the really tough challenges
of the logistics. Making measurements on top of volcanoes in
Central America, or looking at ice movements on glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, or
even making atmospheric measurements and earthquake observations all around the Caribbean. We also operate, on behalf of the community,
the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory. This is over a thousand geophysical instruments
such as GPS receivers and antennas, such as the one behind me, strainmeters, tiltmeters,
(and) seismometers that are used to measure deformation of the Western United States and
Alaska. Initially, the reason why UNAVCO was started
was because GPS receiver technology was very, very expensive. So what the National Science Foundation decided
to do was provide a sort of cooperative environment in which people could share resources. UNAVCO really brings everything together in
a place where people can be much more creative than they could have been if they were working
on their own. The role that UNAVCO plays is to create community,
to bring together people looking toward a common cause, to understand the Earth and
the Earth system. A lot of what I’ve learned has come from
the UNAVCO field engineers teaching me along the way. UNAVCO facilitates this ability to share this
information, share our observations, share our technologies.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

4 Comments

  1. My little child is fed up with earths floods, droughts ,you name it ,and she can,t wait till she sees a change of landscape that our Mars will offer for future civillians.

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