Latest News and Updates

February 2, 2017
On January 24, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this false-color image of scorched land flanked by actively burning fires.
On January 24, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this false-color image of scorched land flanked by actively burning fires.  Wildfires continued to ravage Chile’s countryside in early February 2017, weeks after they flared up in mid-January. The blazes have thwarted firefighters’ efforts to control them, with new hot spots emerging daily. Satellite data and scientific analysis suggest the fires are among the worst the country has seen in decades. Since the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite began collecting data in 2002, fires have occurred in a fairly steady, cyclical pattern in Chile, rising during the dry season and falling during wetter months. Between 2003 and 2016, MODIS detected an average of 330 daytime fire hot spots throughout Chile during the month of January. In 2017, the number jumped tenfold. “This is unprecedented from my perspective. The smoke plumes are huge in abundance and altitude,” said Michael Fromm, a meteorologist with the Naval Research Laboratory who has been studying satellite fire data for 15 years. “Fires have gotten much larger and much more energetic than typical for that area.”

 

January 24, 2017
On January 20, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired an image of brown smoke billowing from a cluster of fires near the coastal city of Pichilemu.
On January 20, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired an image of brown smoke billowing from a cluster of fires near the coastal city of Pichilemu. Smoke from dozens of forest fires billowed over central Chile in January 2017. A heat wave, coupled with strong winds, spread the flames on January 20, prompting President Michelle Bachelet to declare a state of emergency in some areas. On January 20, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired an image of brown smoke billowing from a cluster of fires near the coastal city of Pichilemu. Red outlines indicate areas with heat signatures indicative of active burning. Smoke plumes stretch northward and over the Pacific Ocean. The second, wider view (below), acquired by Terra on January 21, shows fires spread across the region. Far to the north and west, brown smoke hovers over marine clouds.

 

January 7, 2017
GOES and IMERG satellite image of atmospheric river hitting the US west coast.
Video of Atmospheric River Slams California   After more than four years of drought, Californians may wonder where the current rain is coming from. Using satellites, NASA scientists have a unique view of the sources of precipitation, and how it reaches the western United States. Rain is often carried by narrow tendrils of moisture called atmospheric rivers that occur all over the world, shown here in white. The atmospheric rivers that affect the western United States are known as the Pineapple Express because they transport water vapor from as far south as Hawaii to California. When the moisture reaches land, it is forced up over the hills and mountains where it cools, producing significant rainfall. This type of precipitation provides about 40 percent of the state’s annual water supply. This visualization combines data from the Global Precipitation Monitor (GPM) mission's Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals (IMERG) and Goddard Earth Observing System Model Version 5 (GEOS-5). Together, they allow scientists to study the atmospheric rivers and the heavy precipitation they bring to California.

 

January 9, 2017
This visible image of the storm system affecting the U.S. Pacific Coast was taken from NOAA's GOES-West satellite on Jan. 9, 2017 at 8:35 a.m. EST (1345 UTC). Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project
Extreme rain events have been affecting California and snow has blanketed the Pacific Northwest. NASA/NOAA's GOES Project created a satellite animation showing the storms affecting the region from January 6 through 9, 2017, and NASA's Aqua satellite captured a look at the snowfall.  This visible image of the storm system affecting the U.S. Pacific Coast was taken from NOAA's GOES-West satellite on Jan. 9, 2017 at 8:35 a.m. EST (1345 UTC). Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, an animation of visible and infrared imagery from NOAA's GOES-West satellite showed a series of moisture-laden storms affecting California from Jan. 6 through Jan. 9, 2017. NOAA manages the GOES series of satellites and the NASA/NOAA GOES Project uses the satellite data to create animations and images. The animation shows a stream of storms affecting the U.S. West coast over that period, as a low pressure area center churned off of Canada's west coast. On January 9, another area of low pressure moved over Oregon, where the National Weather Service is forecasting heavy snows. The Eastern Douglas County Foothills, south central and southern Oregon Cascades, and Siskiyou Mountains were all under a Winter Storm Warning that calls for "6 to 10 inches possible above 3,000 feet and 1 to 2 feet possible above 5,000 feet."

 

January 13, 2017
CIRA total precipitable water
The state of California has been suffering from a multi-year drought that has severely depleted water resources and reservoir levels. Recent winters have failed to produce precipitation and mountain snows to replenish the losses during the dry summers. However, the situation has rapidly changed this winter, particularly in the past week when multiple atmospheric rivers have impacted the state. An atmospheric river is a concentrated channel of deep moisture that is transported from the tropical Pacific Oceanic regions to the West Coast of the United States.  These events are often associated with prodigious amounts of rainfall and mountain snows that lead to flooding, mudslides, and avalanches.  We have seen such events this past week impact California, especially the central and northern parts of the state.  CIRA’s total precipitable water product in Figures 1a and 1b depict two separate atmospheric rivers impinging on central California from 8 and 10 January 2017, respectively. The first wave transported a plume of tropical moisture from the south-southwest, which led to massive rainfall and high snow levels.  The second atmospheric river on the 10th was less directly connected to the tropics (coming in from the west-southwest), but nonetheless exhibited a well-focused transport of high moisture content.  Widespread flooding and mountain avalanches have resulted from these moisture plumes as the impacted California, as well as dramatic replenishment of reservoirs. Figure 1.  CIRA total precipitable water product (inches) valid at (a) 2100 UTC 8 Jan 2017, and (b) 2100 UTC 10 Jan 2017.

 

January 12, 2017
GPM IMERG precipitation accumulation from 1/7/17 - 1/10/17.
GPM IMERG precipitation accumulation from 1/7/17 - 1/10/17. Click here to view an animated GIF.

 

January 12, 2017
Flood Extent from MODIS Aqua / Terra as of 1/12/17.
Significant amounts of rain in early January have caused significant and widespread flooding in southern Thailand. Learn more about the flood recovery efforts on the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) website Flood Extent from MODIS Aqua / Terra as of 1/12/17. MODIS suface water extent data from 1/12/17. View this data on an interactive map: http://projectmekongnasa.appspot.com/ 7 day precipitation accumulation in Southeast Asia ending on 1/11/17. Data from the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals from GPM (IMERG) Late Run dataset.  View and download this data on an interactive map using the PMM Precipitation and Applications Viewer: https://pmm.nasa.gov/precip-apps  

 

January 9, 2017
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of flooded land near the Pra River on January 9, 2017.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of flooded land near the Pra River on January 9, 2017. This second image shows the same area on February 2, 2014, when waters were lower. Several days of heavy rainfall swamped much of southern Thailand in January 2017. While monsoon-related floods are common in Thailand, the wet season usually ends in November. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of flooded land near the Pra River on January 9, 2017. For comparison, the second image shows the same area on February 2, 2014, when waters were lower. The rainfall, which began on January 1, 2017, is some of the most severe to hit Thailand in three decades, according to Thai authorities. More than 300,000 homes have been affected, and damage to infrastructure is widespread. At least 36 people have died.

 

January 3, 2017
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on January 3, 2017.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on January 3, 2017. It was loud and brief. For a few minutes around 9 p.m. on January 3, 2017, Alaska’s Bogoslof volcano let loose an explosion. According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, cloud-top temperatures indicate the volcanic plume may have reached as high as 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) into the atmosphere. Winds out of the south carried the cloud north over the Bering Sea. The volcano blew off more steam and ash two days later, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image. A video clip assembled from Himawari-8 data shows another volcanic cloud on the afternoon of January 5, 2017. Infrared sensors detected that temperatures in the plume plunged to -58 degrees Celsius (-72° F) as the steam and ash rose into the atmosphere, according to Dan Lindsey, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA. Himawari-8 is a geostationary weather satellite run by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

 

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