A government espionage organization joins up with climate researchers in a race to figure out what’s happening to our fragile planet. No, it isn’t the plot of a new action flick — it’s part of a new data-sharing initiative between the CIA and top scientists. The program will use spy satellites and other CIA tools to help scientists figure out what climate change is doing to cloud cover, forests, deserts, and more.

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The CIA collaboration isn’t entirely new — it was an ongoing project from 1992 until 2001, when the Bush administration shut it down. The original program, known as Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis (Medea), also used CIA tools to observe changes to the environment. Now that the Medea project has been restarted, scientists will try to continue research that has been left unfinished since 2001.

Among the most important unfinished projects: multiple years of ice imagery from sites inside the Arctic Circle. Thanks to recommendations from scientists, the federal government will use reconnaissance satellites to track ice floes moving through the Arctic basin. Eventually, the data could be used for ice forecasts.

Don’t worry — the climate-tracking satellites won’t take away from national security. The CIA is only using satellites that would normally be idle as they move over wilderness areas. Sounds like some great teamwork to us!


Via The New York Times