The new Nasa Quantum Pathways Institute will build technology and tools to improve the measurement of important climate factors. 

“We are peering into a universe that we’ve never peered into before,” said Daniel Blumenthal, a professor at UC Santa Barbara. 

Led by colleagues at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, Blumenthal and the other researchers will focus on quantum sensing, which involves observing how atoms react to small changes in their environment.

The observations will then be used to infer the time variations in the gravity field of the Earth, allowing scientists to improve the accuracy in measurements of several important climate processes, such as sea level rise, rate of ice melt, changes in land water resources and ocean heat storage changes.

“There have been tremendous advances in quantum methods recently, mostly in the context of computing,” said Srinivas Bettadpur, director of the Center for Space Research at UT Austin. 

“We want...