April 28, 2020
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image showing the trail of damage caused by an EF-2 tornado that tore through Jasper and Newton counties in Texas. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. On April 22-23, 2020, powerful thunderstorms blew across eastern Texas and western Louisiana and spawned several tornadoes, including some that caused severe damage.
April 27, 2020
ARIA Damage Proxy Map (DPM) showing potentially damaged structures from Cyclone Harold in red and yellow in Luganville, the second largest city in Vanuatu,. Credit: NASA ARIA, EOS, Google, Copyright contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2020, processed by ESA Tropical Cyclone Harold developed from a low-pressure system that was observed to the east of Papua New Guinea, and tracked to the southeast where it peaked as a Category 5 cyclone on April 6th, 2020. The cyclone brought destructive high winds and extreme rainfall to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga. The NASA Disasters Program activated to Tier 1 response for the disaster, and responded to a request from the World Food Programme (WFP) to help identify potentially damaged structures on the islands of Vanuatu. Using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), created Damage Proxy Maps (DPMs) depicting areas that are likely damaged caused by Cyclone Harold. The DPMs were generated by comparing post-event SAR imagery acquired on April 10, 2020 with pre-event images taken in March 2020.
April 21, 2020
Greenland and coastal Louisiana may not seem to have a lot in common. An autonomous territory of Denmark, Greenland is covered in snow most of the year and is home to about 56,000 people. On the other hand, more than 2 million people call coastal Louisiana home and the region rarely sees snow. But their economies, though 3,400 miles (5,400 kilometers) apart, share a dependence on the sea. The majority of Greenland's residents rely on the territory's robust Arctic fishing industry. And in Louisiana, the coasts, ports and wetlands provide the basis for everything from shipping to fishing to tourism. As a result, both locales and the people who live in them are linked by a common environmental thread: melting ice and consequent sea level rise. NASA satellites are keeping an eye on both. The Mississippi River Delta contains vast areas of marshes, swamps and barrier islands — important for wildlife and as protective buffers against storms and hurricanes. Rapid land subsidence due to sediment compaction and dewatering increases the rate of submergence in this system. Credits: K.L. McKee / U.S. Geological Survey NASA Sees the Seas Thanks to altimetry missions, beginning with the U.S.-French TOPEX / Poseidon mission launched in 1992 and continuing through the present with the Jason series, we now have a nearly three-decade-long record of sea level change.
April 14, 2020
A Category 4 cyclone, the most powerful yet of 2020, made landfall on the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu on Monday, not long before this GPM overpass from April 6th, 2020 at 1:41 UTC. Tropical Cyclone Harold developed from a low pressure system that was observed to the east of Papua New Guinea last week, and has tracked to the southeast, where it has already caused flooding and loss of life in the Solomon Islands. Early reports from Vanuatu indicate heavy flooding and property damage.
April 3, 2020
Instead of looking up to the sky for bright bursts of fiery color, a research team spent Fourth of July 2018 peering down at fiery globs of molten lava from a sky-diving airplane. Bolted to their plane was a new NASA instrument designed to detect each time the volcano took a breath, as its caldera swelled and deflated. The ash plume from the Kilauea volcano on the big island of Hawaii was pictured May 12, 2018, from the International Space Station. Credits: NASA The team flew multiple flights above the Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from July 3 to 5, 2018, to demonstrate how a new instrument could pave the way for a future constellation of small satellites dedicated to monitoring impacts from volcanic activity, earthquakes and changes in land surfaces, said Lauren Wye, the principal investigator who led and recently concluded the instrument’s development at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. A global map detailing land elevation changes over time can help scientists pinpoint ground motion before, during and following earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and help identify impacts from floods and groundwater pumping. “The CubeSat Imaging Radar for Earth Sciences, or CIRES, can help decision-makers and emergency managers obtain observations sooner after a hazardous event so that they are better prepared to deal with disaster relief,” Wye said.
March 30, 2020
The first interviews for a brand-new, regularly occurring segment on NASA TV are "in the can." NASA Science Live is a monthly program airing on NASA TV, focusing on NASA research and people. For this first segment, it highlighted work supported by the Disasters program area on how city managers in Virginia and others are using NASA Earth observations to help communities prepare for flooding and sea level rise. NASA 360 TV producer Jessica Wilde, who conducted the interview with Spencer, is familiar with the Norfolk area’s propensity for flooding. Though she lives in the area on her sailboat, there have been times where even she couldn’t get to work due to flooded streets. Credit: Lia Poteet In Norfolk, Virginia flooded streets are a regular occurrence – even on sunny days. Derek Loftis, an assistant research scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Kyle Spencer, deputy resilience officer with the city of Norfolk, worked with the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters program area to integrate satellite data in a high-resolution flood website. City planners and emergency managers are using this “street-level model” to run detailed flood simulations, down to the building level.
March 24, 2020
Refugee camps built in the Bangladeshi hillside are vulnerable to sudden landslides. Credit: UN Development Programme/Eno Jonathan More than 925,000 Rohingya refugees currently reside in Bangladesh, but the camps they stay in are at risk from deadly landslides, especially during monsoon season. Decision makers there are using NASA Earth observations to inform which areas are most at risk – and now, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has incorporated these practices into a set of recommendations. Titled "Recommendations for Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction into Humanitarian Response," these UNDRR guidelines highlight opportunities for scientists, humanitarian agencies and local decision makers to collaborate on risk reduction in crisis-prone settings. Those settings include southeastern Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of refugees live in camps built in hillsides prone to landslides and flash floods. This puts camp residents and staff at risk and makes it extremely difficult for organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.
March 16, 2020
On Thursday, March 19th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its "Spring Outlook" for 2020 to inform the public what weather patterns they can expect for the upcoming season. This outlook will help emergency managers and community decision-makers along the nation’s major waterways prepare people and businesses for the threat of floods. According to the report, "NOAA forecasters predict widespread flooding this spring, but do not expect it to be as severe or prolonged overall as the historic floods in 2019. Major to moderate flooding is likely in 23 states from the Northern Plains south to the Gulf Coast, with the most significant flood potential in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota." Read the full press release here
March 12, 2020
On March 4th – 6th 2020 members of the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program attended the 2020 National Earthquake Conference in San Diego, CA to connect and collaborate with other agencies and scientists on earthquake research and response. The NASA Disasters Program aids communities around the world in resilience, response, and recovery from earthquakes. The program develops both research and real-world applications of Earth-observing data for responding to earthquakes through its A.37 ROSES Project Portfolio, and is constantly seeking collaboration and feedback from partners in the earthquake and disaster communities through events such as National Earthquake Conference. With each earthquake the program responds to, more is learned about hazard, exposure, vulnerability and effective coordination. This improves the program’s ability to respond effectively and helps to develop more resilient communities around the world. Learn more about the NASA Disasters Program earthquake activities: https://disasters.nasa.gov/earthquakes
March 5, 2020
Overnight on March 2-3, 2020, several severe thunderstorms affected parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, with the most notable damage occurring around the Nashville metropolitan area. At the time of this blog post, storm surveys continue in Tennessee by National Weather Forecast Offices in Nashville and Memphis TN (https://www.weather.gov/ohx/ , https://www.weather.gov/meg/). This post takes a preliminary look at the electrical characteristics of the thunderstorms responsible for this damage from the lens of the newer instruments on the GOES-R series of satellites, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). GLM measures optical lightning signatures in thunderstorms to determine the spatial extent and frequency of lightning as it propagates through the cloud.