NASA Launches Six-Year Study of Earth's Water

On May 4, NASA launched its Aqua satellite to study the many ways that water affects the climate and how that relationship may be changing. The satellite is designed to follow the cycle of the earth's water in its many forms to determine whether the cycle is being affected by climate change.

The Aqua Project is a multidisciplinary study of the earth's interrelated processes (atmosphere, oceans, and land surface) and their relationship to earth system changes. Specifically, Aqua instruments will contribute to global change research in the areas of atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles, clouds, precipitation and radiative balance; terrestrial snow and sea ice; sea surface temperature and ocean productivity; soil moisture; and the improvement of numerical weather prediction. The $952 million program, planned to last six years, should also improve understanding of biological systems dependent upon water, enhance long-term weather and climate forecasting, and further knowledge regarding severe storms.

For additional information about the Aqua satellite program, see

New Version of HAZUS Earthquake Loss Estimation Software Released

Hazards U.S. (HAZUS) is a software program developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to estimate losses from potential earthquakes. The agencies have recently released a new, updated version. HAZUS99-SR2 has several new features:
  • An "Advanced Engineering Building Module" for analyzing damage and loss in individual buildings,
  • An outdoor casualty estimation capability, and
  • Metadata for the inventory databases.

In addition, many other improvements and fixes have been made in the areas of inventory, hazard characterization, damage and loss modules, report writing, and operating software.

An article describing the new features of the software is available from To order CD-ROM sets of the new version of HAZUS, print out and fax the order form available from, or call the FEMA Distribution Center, (800) 480-2520.

For more information about HAZUS, training opportunities, and future developments (including flood and wind modules), see

[Adapted from SCEC News--an e-mail newsletter of the Southern California Earthquake Center]

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