Latest News and Updates

July 23, 2020
This Building Exposure Map shows the location and estimated value of buildings in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 2020. Credit: METEOR Project Consortium
Researchers from the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program are working with building exposure datasets developed by the “Modelling Exposure Through Earth Observation Routines” (METEOR) project to estimate the number and value of buildings in Africa affected by flooding rainfall in the spring of 2020.  METEOR is co-funded through the second iteration of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which uses space expertise to deliver innovative solutions to real world problems across the globe. The primary objective of METEOR is to develop innovative applications of Earth Observation (EO) technologies to improve understanding of the built environment or exposure, with a specific focus on the countries of Nepal and Tanzania. The METEOR project consortium is composed of eight organizations crossing four continents, with expertise in the fields of natural hazard science, remote sensing, exposure development, risk modeling and disaster risk management.


July 23, 2020
This Damage Proxy Map (DPM), produced by ARIA and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) to aid in response efforts for Cyclone Amphan, shows likely damaged areas in red and yellow near the border of India and Bangladesh. The product was produced using
Sang-Ho Yun, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), has maintained a passion for the Earth since he was young. Early on, he also developed an interest in physics. Physics, he says, is “simple, beautiful and scalable.” Physics is a foundational framework that we can use to understand our universe and, for Yun, the dynamic, ever-changing Earth. Yun first studied Earth science at Seoul National University, where he also went on to receive his Master of Science degree. It was during his studies for his master’s degree that he also gained an interest in remote sensing and radar. From there, he went to Stanford University to receive his PhD in geophysics, specializing in remote sensing using radar.


July 20, 2020
OMPS S02 Measurements from Raikoke
On June 22, 2019, the Raikoke volcano on Kuril Island erupted, spewing large volumes of ash and volcanic gases into the atmosphere. Volcanic ash (VA) and gasses pose a major threat to aviation, while gasses including sulfur dioxide (SO2) also impact climate and stratospheric ozone. Large concentrations of SO2 in the volcanic plumes pose a short-term hazard to aviation by impacting cabin air quality and also have possible long-term effects on aircraft. Traditionally, SO2 serves as a proxy for ash, which is the primary hazard to aircraft engines, frame and avionics. This map of the northern hemisphere is animated with daily data from the OMPS instrument onboard the Suomi NPP satellite from June 20 – August 31, 2019. Colors display the relative mass of SO2 from the volcanic plume, measured in Dobson Units (DU). The animated chart displays the exponential decay trend of the SO2 mass in kilotons over the same time period. Credit: NASA / Prof. Simon Carn (Michigan Technological University) In response to the eruption, SO2 maps and mass estimates were automatically produced by NASA’s near real-time (NRT) Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring system (, which was developed with funding from the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program. The VA and SO2 satellite data products are routinely used by nine international Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs) to issue VA advisories and short-term VA forecasts, which help re-route flights to avoid VA affected airspace. NASA has no formal responsibility for issuing aviation warnings, but regularly provides advice and consultation to partners at the USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory who consulted Anchorage-VAAC forecasters.


July 13, 2020
Screenshot of the NASA Disasters  mapping portal
Members of the NASA Disasters Program at the 2019 Esri User Conference. Credit: NASA The week of July 13, 2020, NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Program is participating in the all-virtual Esri User Conference. Esri is the organization responsible for ArcGIS, a software that helps researchers map complex components of Earth’s systems. With learning opportunities like technical workshops and lightning talks, the event will connect NASA scientists to communities of potential users of NASA resources, to highlight how Earth observations and research products can be used to inform efforts to advance and protect human and ecological health. The NASA Disasters Mapping Portal can help connect emergency response managers quickly access satellite data related to natural events like floods, cyclones and fires. Credits: NASA


July 7, 2020
This animation shows NASA IMERG rain rates (blue shading) and accumulations (green shading) near Kyushu island, in the southwest of Japan from June 29 - July 5, 2020.
This animation shows NASA IMERG rain rates (blue shading) and accumulations (green shading) near Kyushu island, in the southwest of Japan from June 29 - July 5, 2020. Devastating floods and landslides swept through parts of Kyushu on July 4, 2020, resulting in over 40 deaths and orders for hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes according to media reports. Download video (right-click -> Save As) The rains that triggered the flooding occurred in the context of the Meiyu-Baiu rainy season, which arrives in east Asia every year from June to mid-July. “Meiyu” and “Baiu” are the Chinese and Japanese words for “plum rains”, so called because the rains usually arrive around the time that plum trees ripen. The east-west rain bands that can be seen in the animation are characteristic of the Meiyu-Baiu season. Climate scientists have determined that these rain bands are forced by a combination of warm air from the Tibetan Plateau that travels along a jet of air running eastward, as well as moist tropical air from the southwest. While the Meiyu-Baiu rains had been active in southern Japan in the days leading up to the recent flooding, the period beginning with July 3, 2020 saw particularly intense periodic rain pulses with rates exceeding 25 mm/hr (1 inch/hr) in the areas around Kyushu. Accumulations increased rapidly from July 3—July 5, to over 40 cm (~16 inches) over the entire southern half of the island, with some areas reaching as high as 60 cm (~2 feet). NASA's IMERG algorithm combines data from an international constellation of satellites to show precipitation measurements both over the ocean and over land.


June 29, 2020
Screenshot of the GFED product in the NASA Disasters Mapping portal
Near real-time fire emissions products from the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) have recently been added to the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal, making it easier to for disaster researchers and responders to track aerosols and changes in greenhouse gases and air quality from fires around the world. This application from the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal animates the past week of GFED near real-time data. Carbon emissions are shown by default, but you can click the “layers” icon in the upper right to toggle the display of other emissions such as methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Credit: NASA View on the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal The dataset tracks six different emissions, which are carbon (C), methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), dry matter (DM) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Data are presented in gigagrams (Gg) at 0.25° (~28km) resolution. Emissions data are updated daily and are available from January 2019 to present. Fire emissions estimates from the GFED near real-time product are based on active fire detections from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instruments aboard the Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 satellites. The historical relationship between VIIRS active fire detections and GFED emissions from 2012 – 2016 are used to create a statistical model which can convert active fire detections to biomass burned in near real-time. Long-term GFED emissions estimates are calculated using satellite burned area data and a carbon cycle model that cannot be produced in real-time. However active fire detections, including estimates of fire radiative power, are available within hours of the satellite overpass.


June 25, 2020
Several images of forest fires.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and wildfires are formidable natural phenomena that require rapid but strategic responses to prevent significant losses to life as well as property. Earth satellite data can enable responders to identify the location, cause and severity of impacts, including property damage. However, these natural disasters often impact large areas, and the manual process of searching through extensive imagery to pinpoint the location of and assess the amount of damage is slow and labor-intensive. Trained analysts who examine the images have to integrate their knowledge about an area’s geography, as well as the specific disaster’s conditions to score building damage. How can this process be sped up to bring accurate information to disaster responders more quickly? NASA Earth Applied Sciences’ Open Innovation and Disasters program area joined the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), part of the Department of Defense, to address just this problem, and they invited the expertise of one key group – the public! DIU’s xView2 Challenge invited image analysts and computer vision experts to participate in an open, international prize competition to create machine learning algorithms that could process pre- and post-natural disaster imagery to assess building damage.


June 24, 2020
Pyrocumulus clouds forming from the bushfires in Australia as seen by the JMA Himawari-8 satellite. Credit: Satellite data from JMA Himawari 8 processed by NOAA, CIRA
The Washington Post contacted NASA researcher and NASA Disasters Program Center Coordinator Jean-Paul Vernier for his insights into a paper on the 2020 Australia fires, published in Geophysical Research Letters. The article is titled "Australia’s Fires Blew Smoke 19 Miles into the Sky, Similar to a Predicted Nuclear Blast" and was published June 22, 2020. Read the full article here:  See more Disasters Program stories on the 2020 Australia fires:


June 23, 2020
Satellite image of a hurricane
The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise.  This video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting in the 120 years since, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites. This satellite technology has allowed us to track hurricanes – their location, movement and intensity.  Video of Eyes in the Sky “One of the dramatic impacts is that satellite data keeps an eye on the target," especially over unpopulated areas such as oceans, said JPSS Director Greg Mandt. “We’re sort of like your eyes in the sky to make sure that Mother Nature can never surprise you.” 


June 16, 2020
NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image to forecasters of Tropical Storm Nuri as it approached the southeastern coast of China on Saturday, June 13. Credit: NASA Worldview
NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image to forecasters of Tropical Storm Nuri as it approached the southeastern coast of China on Saturday, June 13. Credit: NASA Worldview NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image to forecasters of Tropical Storm Nuri as it approached the southeastern coast of China during the day on Saturday, June 13. At that time, Strong wind signal #3 was in force for Hong Kong. At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC), Tropical storm Nuri was located near latitude 18.7 north and longitude 115.2 east, 166 miles south-southeast of Hong Kong. Nuri was moving to the west-northwest and had maximum sustained winds of 35 knots (40 mph/65 kph). Nuri was moving northwest and did not strengthen further before making landfall.