September 2, 2020
Earth-observing instruments on satellites and aircraft are mapping the current fires, providing data products to agencies on the ground that are responding to the emergency. As California experiences one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, NASA is leveraging its resources to help. Scientists supporting the agency's Applied Sciences Disaster Program in the Earth Sciences Division are generating maps and other data products that track active fires and their smoke plumes while also identifying areas that may be susceptible to future risks. "When disasters like this occur, we are able to swiftly respond to requests from our partners who need images and mapping data," said David Green, manager of the Disasters Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Likewise, in the aftermath of the fires, our researchers will use orbital and aerial data of the burn areas to help mitigate hazards such as landslides and mudslides." Most of the data comes from the numerous satellite instruments that pass over the state, such as the MOderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instruments aboard the Suomi-NPP satellite, and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) instrument onboard the CALIPSO satellite.
September 1, 2020
Members of the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program recently participated in the SERVIR-GEOGloWS Hackathon, a virtual app development event for participants to create geospatial and scientific web applications related to water sustainability. The Hackathon was virtually co-hosted by SERVIR, a joint venture between NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide state-of-the-art Earth observing data to improve environmental decision-making in developing nations, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Global Water Sustainability Program (GEOGloWS) and the Brigham Young University (BYU) Hydroinformatics Lab. The hackathon took place August 3 – 7, 2020. Screenshot from the prototype HydroSAR Viewer app, which was developed during the hackathon to support rapid sharing of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)-based flood mapping products with end users. In the future all app layers could be made available through Web Mapping Service (WMS) technology upon deployment, facilitating easy embedding into the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal. Credit: NASA
August 28, 2020
On August 25th, Several days before Hurricane Laura made landfall as a destructive category 4 storm in Louisiana, NASA’s Terra satellite flew over Laura in the Gulf of Mexico. Using its Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument, the satellite collected data on wind speeds and cloud-top heights as the storm intensified and moved northwest towards the U.S. Gulf Coast. Interactive visualization of 3D cloud-top height data from Hurricane Laura on August 25th, 2020, captured by the MISR instrument onboard NASA’s Terra satellite. Click here to view fullscreen. Credit: NASA Disasters Program, Esri The NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team worked closely with representatives from the Esri 3D team to produce the first-ever interactive 3D visualization of MISR cloud-top height data and publish it to the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal. Cloud-top height data can be used to examine the structure of tropical storms and identify features that may indicate future strengthening or weakening of the storm system. In this visualization, some higher clouds seen near the center of the storm may indicate a building eyewall. In other storms, features such as “hot towers” can be identified - clouds of warm, moist air within the eyewall that extend high into the atmosphere and indicate potential rapid intensification for hurricanes. MISR also captures data on the direction and velocity of wind at the cloud-tops, which aids researchers in better understanding a storms structure and potential development.
August 28, 2020
Early in the morning on Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Louisiana and Texas coastline, bringing 150 m.p.h. winds, flash floods and heavy rainfall with it. On the ground, emergency personnel mobilized to respond to the Category 4 storm. But for NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, it was business as usual. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the NOAA-20 satellite acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 2:50 a.m. CT on August 27, 2020, about two hours after the storm made landfall. Clouds are shown in infrared using brightness temperature data, which is useful for distinguishing cooler cloud structures from the warmer surface below. That data is overlaid on composite imagery of city lights from NASA’s Black Marble dataset. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory Those satellites – as well as several from NASA’s international partner space agencies – constantly orbit Earth, using sophisticated sensors to collect data about what’s going on down below. When Hurricane Laura hit, NASA already had eyes on the storm. “We use that cutting-edge NASA science to address disasters,” said Lori Schultz, a remote-sensing scientist with the University of Alabama who is leading NASA’s efforts on this storm for the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program. The program seeks to provide disaster response and management personnel with relevant, up-to-date information to help communities prepare for disasters and manage recovery efforts.
August 27, 2020
The NASA / JAXA GPM Core Observatory satellite flew over Hurricane Laura shortly before it made landfall at 10:00pm CT on Wednesday, August 26th, then again at 7:42am CT on Thursday, August 27th when it was over land, capturing data on precipitation within the storm. This visualization from the 10:00pm CT August 26 GPM overpass shortly before Laura made landfall shows GPM Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) data (center track) overlaid on GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) data showing the intensity of precipitation within the storm. Credit: Joe Munchak (NASA GSFC)
August 21, 2020
Despite facing a dry July, many farmers in Iowa were expecting a good harvest in the fall. Instead, many had their fields of corn and soybeans flattened by hurricane-force winds. On August 10, 2020, an unusually strong and long-lasting line of thunderstorms—a derecho—battered vast swaths of Iowa and the U.S. Midwest. More than a week after the storm, tens of thousands of Iowans were still without electric power, and many farmers were mulling whether they could salvage crops and repair grain silos before the coming harvest.
August 18, 2020
On June 23rd, 2020, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake occurred offshore of Oaxaca, Mexico. The location, magnitude and depth of the earthquake created the conditions necessary to cause a tsunami, leading to a tsunami warning being issued for the Pacific coasts of Mexico as well as Central and South America. While the tsunami’s impacts were minor, the event provided researchers with an opportunity to test the performance of the tsunami forecasting and early warning system. Using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) displacement data from the Trans-boundary, Land and Atmosphere Long-term Observational and Collaborative Network (TLALOCNet) in Mexico, the NASA Applied Sciences A.37 ROSES research project “Enlisting Satellite Data to Modernize Local Tsunami Early Warning” lead by Diego Melgar produced a slip model and a predicted vertical deformation model to evaluate the impacts that the earthquake and tsunami had on the surrounding area. This slip model of the earthquake based on high-rate GNSS data from the TLALOCNet network in Mexico shows the amount of motion at the fault interface during the earthquake. The data were processed by the University of Washington using the TRACK software. Credit: NASA, Diego Melgar
August 6, 2020
In response to Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias, the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters program area created maps showing areas of likely flooding and damage from the July 2020 storm in The Bahamas and Dominican Republic. This Flood Proxy Map (FPM) shows areas that are likely flooded (shown by light blue pixels of 30 m in size) in Grand Bahama, The Bahamas due to heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Isaias. This map should be used as a guidance to identify areas that are likely flooded, and may be less reliable over urban and vegetated areas. Derived from synthetic aperture radar data acquired by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) from 12 Dec 2019 to 2 Aug 2020. Analysed by the ARIA-SG team at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) in collaboration with NASA-JPL and Caltech. The U.S. Southern Command and Caribbean Disasters Emergency Management Agency requested and received these detailed assessment maps following the heavy rains that occurred during the storm. These maps are based on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, which are operated by the European Space Agency. The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California processed the data in collaboration with the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
July 30, 2020
Join us for Applied Sciences Week – a week-long virtual celebration of many ways NASA Earth science is being utilized to make our world a better place. Spearheaded by NASA Earth Applied Sciences Program, Applied Sciences Week will highlight experts and end users from within and outside the agency, speaking about everything from space-borne to boots-on-the-ground solutions to our planet's most pressing concerns. To register for Applied Sciences Week, visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5323360720967287307. Registration provides access to plenary talks, project highlights, user panel, and more. Each day, Monday through Thursday, a plenary session will take place from 12-2p EDT. To foster engagement and connect speakers and the audience, breakout rooms will follow the daily plenary sessions Tuesday through Thursday. Do you want to learn more about a project? Hope to make a connection with one of our speakers? Keep the conversation going in one of the thematic breakout rooms! Daily reminder emails will be sent with login information.*
July 27, 2020
The new projects look at food- and water-supply stability and how changes in human activity are affecting the environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched most aspects of human life. In recent months, NASA has initiated research projects focused on how the human response to the pandemic has affected our environment, like how air quality has improved in the wake of reduced vehicular traffic in many places. But the tentacles of the pandemic extend well beyond that. How have production disruptions affected agriculture and food supply? What about our ability to forecast water availability in coming months? How do changes in activity levels affect environmental conditions? NASA's Earth Science Division recently selected three new projects that aim to answer these and other pandemic-related questions for Rapid Response and Novel Research (RRNES) awards. RRNES is funding quick-turnaround projects that make innovative use of the agency's resources and data to better understand regional-to-global environmental, economic, and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new projects join a growing list of RRNES research now underway. This preliminary map shows the slowdown of activity at Disneyland in California. Areas in blue indicate a reduction in vehicle concentration or movement as a result of COVID-19 pandemic response efforts. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/EOS at Nanyang Technological University