Latest News and Updates

November 25, 2020
Disaster coordinators from CEPREDENAC using NASA data to analyze potential impacts from Hurricane Iota. Credit: CEPREDENAC
In Guatemala City, a new model of interagency coordination has been developed involving partners at multiple levels – globally through the use of NASA Earth observation data, regionally through the  Coordination Center for Disaster Prevention in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CEPREDENAC),  nationally through Coordination System for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), and locally through the municipality of Guatemala City using the Platform of Vulnerability and Emergency Management (AVE).  Disaster coordinators from CEPREDENAC using NASA data to analyze potential impacts from Hurricane Iota. Credit: CEPREDENAC  

 

November 23, 2020
Photo of a Derecho
Kris Bedka, a severe weather expert, based at NASA's Langley Research Center, recently talked with Michelle O'Neill, from NPR affiliate, WVIK, about the unusually strong derecho that passed through the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Indiana in August 2020. Bedka related how high-tech images from satellites and radar help farmers, insurance companies, and scientists learn about the severity and scope of damage from the fast-moving storms. Bedka also shared how NASA's analysis of the extreme windstorm will help scientists learn about severe weather and its potential impacts worldwide. Read the NPR Story Learn More about Bedka's Research A team of NASA researchers used this satellite and radar imagery to help officials in Iowa better understand the effects of a derecho that ripped through the state in August. Credits: NASA, University of Oklahoma, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service, and the Iowa Environmental Mesonet  

 

November 20, 2020
Street flooding in Broad Channel, Queens. (Credit: New York City Department of City Planning)
The word sentinel stems from the Old Italian words sentina, meaning "vigilance," and sentire, "to hear or perceive." As the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite soars to orbit in late November 2020, it will soon be easy to see just how apt “sentinel” describes it. The spacecraft, which is about the size of a small pickup truck, carries the latest advanced instruments to collect the most accurate global data yet on sea level and its changes over time. NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program uses Earth-observing satellites to help scientists and decision-makers improve prediction of, preparation for, response to, and recovery from disasters, including floods, hurricanes and tsunamis. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich’s mission will augment the agency’s flood preparedness and response capabilities which include satellite observations, data systems, and modeling capabilities. Sea rise is a crucial indicator of how Earth's climate is changing. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and the follow-on mission of its twin, Sentinel-6B, will add more than a decade of observation data to a nearly 30-year observation dataset that helps researchers understand our home planet. Street flooding in Broad Channel, Queens. Credits: New York City Department of City Planning

 

November 18, 2020
Map of landslide risk in Central America
On November 3, 2020, Hurricane Eta made landfall as one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit Central America in years. The category 4 storm destroyed hundreds of homes, killed more than 100 people, and brought torrential rains that triggered large and numerous landslides in Guatemala and Honduras. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Iota—an even more powerful category 4 storm—nearly retraced Eta’s path. Within hours of Eta’s landfall and flooding rains, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center worked to predict landslides and map the storm’s aftermath. One team assessed potential landslide hazards using a computer model. Another team analyzed satellite data to map the resulting landslides, some of which were successfully predicted by the model. The NASA Earth Science Disasters program shared the information with national and international emergency response agencies to provide better insight of the hazards to personnel on the ground. The teams are currently running those landslide analyses again for areas hit by Hurricane Iota.

 

November 18, 2020
Screenshot from the GIS Day storymap
Geographic information systems, known as GIS, is a standardized data framework that allows for gathering, analyzing and visualizing geographic data of all types. GIS Day is November 18, 2020 and it's an international celebration of GIS technology. Going beyond mapping, GIS provides powerful capabilities to visualize, analyze, and interact with big data. At a GIS Day event hosted by the international GIS company Esri, Disasters Program Manager David Green presented the keynote address. It is part of a day-long international event hosted by European Esri/Bulgaria with the theme of "How GIS Supports Society." Esri notes that Disasters demonstrates that modern GIS improves collaboration, mitigation and response to natural and social disasters. NASA uses GIS to enhance our awareness/intelligence of our world. GIS plays a crucial role with managing, understanding, and sharing Earth observations. The standardized format of GIS enables easier sharing of knowledge between organizations, and lets users combine multiple datasets to reveal deeper insights, such as patterns, relationships, and situations – ultimately allowing them to make smarter decisions. By participating in GIS day, NASA raises awareness of the value of GIS technology for solving society’s most pressing issues. GIS at NASA NASA Disasters Portal The Disasters program area has pioneered the use of GIS technology for NASA Earth observing data with its Disasters Mapping Portal, making the data easier to access for local disaster management agencies, and processing, analyzing and visualizing the data to inform risk reduction, resilience and recovery efforts for disasters around the world.   

 

November 12, 2020
Photograph of smoke rising from fires on the east coast of Australia, taken by ISS astronauts on January 4th, 2020. Credit: NASA Crew Earth Observations (CEO)
David E. Borges, physical scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center for NASA's Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program, recently wrote a post for the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Voices Blog to explore how Earth observations can support disaster risk reduction strategies. The DRR Voices Blog is a part of Preventionweb.net, the online knowledge platform for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), an organization that brings governments, partners and communities together to reduce disaster risk and losses to ensure a safer, more sustainable future. In the post, Borges explains the history and role of the NASA Disasters Program, and explores topics such as tracking fires with the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) and forecasting tsunamis with the Tsunami Early Warning System (TEWS), among others. Read the full blog post here: https://www.preventionweb.net/experts/oped/view/74663 This blog post was also shared to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) website: http://www.earthobservations.org/geo_blog_obs.php?id=477

 

November 9, 2020
map of soil moisture in the Americas
When disasters occur, civil protection agencies and organizations need data, such as remote sensing data from NASA’s many satellites, to inform their decisions. Earth data relevant to disasters is quickly becoming more plentiful, but this abundance is only one side of the story. End-users around the world may find abundant data but discover that data is not in an immediately useful format. Often, the available data is geared towards scientists and other researchers in specific fields. The complexity of the data means additional, time-consuming work to process and analyze the information often has to happen before emergency managers can make effective use of it. User-friendly interfaces accompanying such datasets can provide emergency managers with valuable and timely input to inform better decisions regarding disaster mitigation, preparation and response. That’s why NASA’s Earth Applied Science Disasters Program is increasing accessibility through innovative tools that make important data user-friendly for a diverse range of civil protection agencies and organizations. In that effort, the program’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team has developed – and continually improves upon – a Disasters Mapping Portal (https://maps.disasters.nasa.gov). Disaster management professionals around the globe use the Mapping Portal to access scientific data and produce highly relevant and informative maps. Recently, the Disasters Program’s GIS Team enhanced the portal by integrating data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite into it. Because of this, end-users worldwide now have convenient access to timely acquisition of soil moisture data. That data is especially useful when it comes to floods and fires. Decision-makers can use that enhanced information to identify dry areas in a region experiencing fires and determine where the fires are likely to travel. Soil moisture data can help analysts predict which local regions in the path of an impending hurricane may experience flooding. This upgraded capability provides decision-makers with practical information to help them better prepare for disasters and natural hazards.

 

November 5, 2020
On Mar. 11, 2011, the eastern coast of Japan was shaken by the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake - one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. This photo, taken from the International Space Station on Mar. 13, 2011, shows the Japanese coastline north an
Nov. 5, 2020, is World Tsunami Awareness Day. With this year’s annual observance of World Tsunami Awareness Day, the United Nations and partner organizations call on countries and organizations worldwide to substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. Tsunamis are rare but can be extremely deadly. According to the UN, 58 tsunamis claimed more than 260,000 lives, or an average of 4,600 per disaster in the last century, surpassing any other natural hazard. By the end of this decade, 50% of the world's population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms, and tsunamis. Having plans and policies to reduce tsunami impacts helps build resilience and protect communities most at risk. On Mar. 11, 2011, the eastern coast of Japan was shaken by the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake - one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. This photo, taken from the International Space Station on Mar. 13, 2011, shows the Japanese coastline north and east of Sendai following inundation by a tsunami. Sunglint indicates the widespread presence of floodwaters and indicates oils and other materials on the water surface.. Credit: NASA

 

October 28, 2020
GPM Core Observatory overpass of Tropical Storm Zeta on October 28 at approximately 3:25 CDT (8:25 UTC), showing the structure and intensity of precipitation within the storm. Credit: NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio
As Hurricane Zeta moves towards landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast, NASA has eyes on the storm with an array of Earth-observing instruments and stands ready to aid affected communities with critical data and analysis. Zeta is following a path similar to Hurricane Delta, which after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula made its way across the Gulf of Mexico and struck the Louisiana coast as a Category 2 hurricane on October 9. If Zeta makes landfall as expected along the northern Gulf Coast, it will become the 7th named storm to do so in this record-breaking season, following Tropical Storm Cristobal, Hurricane Laura, Tropical Storm Marco, Hurricane Sally, Tropical Storm Beta, and Hurricane Delta.  Tropical Storm Zeta is the 27th named storm of 2020, which ties the record with 2005 for the most named storms. The 2020 season is also only the second time in recorded history (the other being 2005) that the Greek alphabet has been used because the number of named storms has exceeded the number of regular names on the list. With several weeks still left in the 2020 hurricane season, 2020 is expected to surpass this previous record for most named storms in one season. Video of NASA/JAXA GPM Satellite Eyes Hurricane Zeta on its way to New Orleans The NASA / JAXA GPM Core Observatory flew over Tropical Storm Zeta on October 28 at approximately 3:25am CDT (8:25 UTC), capturing data on the structure and intensity of precipitation within the storm. Click here to learn more about Zeta's precipitation and its journey to landfall on the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission website   

 

October 21, 2020
A team of NASA researchers used this satellite and radar imagery to help officials in Iowa better understand the effects of a derecho that ripped through the state in August. Credits: NASA, University of Oklahoma, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, Nationa
An intense August storm gave many Iowans a brief sense of what it might feel like to experience the strong winds of a hurricane. The powerful, fast-moving, line of thunderstorms known as a derecho, blasted across Iowa Aug. 10 with extreme winds. The derecho did catastrophic damage to corn and soybean crops, caused widespread utility and property damage, and resulted in fatalities. NOAA estimates damage totals to be $7.5 billion, making it one of the most costly severe thunderstorm events in U.S. history.  A team of NASA researchers used this satellite and radar imagery to help officials in Iowa better understand the effects of a derecho that ripped through the state in August. Credits: NASA, University of Oklahoma, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service, and the Iowa Environmental Mesonet To help officials in Iowa better understand the scale and scope of the disaster, a team of NASA researchers, led by Kris Bedka, a severe storm expert at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and colleagues at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and the University of Oklahoma, analyzed the storm using data and imagery from multiple Earth-observing satellites and weather radars on the ground.

 

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