• Kyodo

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and two Japanese government agencies are conducting a joint study on snow and other trends in precipitation over the Sea of Japan, NASA said Wednesday.

NASA said it is collaborating with the National Space Development Agency of Japan and the Japanese Meteorological Research Institute to conduct research into patterns of snow and rain, particularly around Fukui Prefecture’s Wakasa Bay.

The six-week Wakasa Bay Field Campaign began Jan. 3, NASA said in a press release.

NASA apparently chose Wakasa Bay due to its diverse winter weather conditions, which range from extreme cold caused by Siberian air masses and accompanying snow flowing into the region to fast-moving extra-tropical low pressure systems that consist primarily of rain, which originates as snowfall at higher altitudes.

The study uses NASA’s Earth Observing System Aqua satellite, launched last May, as well as research aircraft to gather data aimed at increasing understanding of where snow and rain fall and determining how such precipitation is affected by the El Nino phenomenon, NASA said.

New satellite instruments that can detect precipitation over water will provide scientists with data to help interpret how the hydrology of the Pacific Ocean affects the entire planet, the administration said.

A NASA aircraft is flying off the coast between Niigata Prefecture and Hyogo Prefecture to collect precipitation data to compare with information gathered by the Aqua satellite orbiting over the same area, it said.

The satellite incorporates a Japanese-built Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System, which allows for a wider range of high-quality precipitation measurements, a NASA official said.

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