Environmental change and human activities alter Earth's ecosystems and the biogeochemical cycles that are critical to the habitability of our planet. In addition to providing habitat and natural resources while nurturing crucial biodiversity, ecosystems interact with numerous geochemical and physical systems to maintain the global carbon cycle and its control over changes in atmospheric CO2 and CH4 and thus climate.
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Atmospheric composition determines air quality and affects weather, climate, and critical constituents such as ozone. Exchanges with the atmosphere link terrestrial and oceanic pools within the carbon cycle and other biogeochemical cycles. Solar radiation affects atmospheric chemistry and is thus a critical factor in atmospheric composition.
NASA works with the science community to identify questions on the frontiers of science that have profound societal importance, and to which NASA can make a defining contribution. These science questions become the foundation of a research strategy, which defines requirements for scientific observations, and a roadmap for combining the technology, observations, modeling efforts, basic research, and partnerships needed to answer the questions over time.