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.


October 20, 2020
Scene from above logo
David E. Borges, physical scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center for NASA's Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program, recently joined hosts Alastair Graham and Andrew Cutts for "The Scene From Above Podcast." In the Season 8, Episode 4, recorded on Oct. 14, 2020, Borges underscores the critical role that Earth observations play in supporting disaster response, recovery and risk reduction worldwide. He outlines the vital role of organizations such as the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Working Group and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Working Group on Disasters (WGDisasters). Borges notes how such groups share common goals to expand the societal benefits of Earth observations by making data more accessible and information easier to integrate into decision-making processes. Hear the Podcast at: or  


October 19, 2020
Comparison of KOMPSAT-2 and KOMPSAT-3A water extent maps with Landsat-8 water extent maps, using the normalized water difference index (NDWI). Credit: KOMPSAT-2 © KARI (2007), KOMPSAT-3A © KARI (2019), Landsat-8 image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Surve
Youn-Soo Kim, principal researcher at the Satellite Application Division of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), recently completed a year-long sabbatical visit at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in which he collaborated closely with the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program. Kim is a member of the Satellite Application Division of the National Satellite Operation & Application Center at KARI. There, he helps manage satellite data generated by the KOMPSAT and Geo-KOMPSAT satellites and helps develop state-of-the-art technologies for widespread use of KARI satellite data. KARI is currently operating four low-Earth-orbit satellites called Arirang-2, -3, -3A and -5 (also known as KOMPSAT-2, -3, -3A and -5) and two geostationary satellites called Cheollian-1 and -2 (also called Geo-KOMPSAT-1 and -2). The Center is responsible for developing change detection and target indication algorithms and generating and distributing value-added products using KOMPSAT data. Upon returning to KARI, Kim aims to improve satellite data distribution and utilization of systems and to promote increased satellite data use in the public and private sectors.


October 13, 2020
On September 3, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this true-color image of smoke and fire near the border of Bolivia and Brazil. Numerous hot-spots, shown in red, mark areas where the thermal band
The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was started in 1989 after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Held every October 13, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face. NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program works to facilitate disaster risk reduction by promoting access to Earth observations and by increasing the use and utility of data that inform choice, support decisions, and guide actions that prevent disasters, reduce risk and strengthen resilience The Disasters Program acts as an enabler by investing in applied research and engaging with partners and stakeholders to pilot and demonstrate operational uses of Earth observations. The program takes a multi-hazard and systems approach that can increase situational awareness to protect lifelines. In particular, NASA leverages a comprehensive fleet of satellites, airborne instruments and ground systems, along with subject matter experts, to assess disaster impacts on society.  NASA also provides free and open data, mapping products and decision tools. Success is measured by improving resilience to hazards, vulnerability and exposure, while strengthening coping capacity.


October 5, 2020
 Photo of Ricardo Quiroga. Credit: Orozco C.
 Photo of Ricardo Quiroga. Credit: Orozco C. Born and raised in Colombia, Ricardo Quiroga's inspiration are the country's forests which are filled with some of the most unique biodiversity in the world. Quiroga spent much of his youth roaming through the forests and admiring the various species of birds that live among the treetops. Because of his upbringing, he knew he wanted a career working with the natural world from a very young age. “The passion for ecosystems and biodiversity brought me into the world of science.” Quiroga went on to co-found of AmeriGEO in 2014. Coordinated with the worldwide Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Colombia, it works in North, South and Central America on GEO Initiatives and programs in disasters, agriculture, health, water, biodiversity and ecosystems, and the use of Earth observations for decision-making in general. Quiroga came to the organization having graduated from the School of Veterinary and Animal Science in Colombia, and then receiving his Master's degree in Ecosystems and Sustainable Development in Costa Rica. Post-graduation, Quiroga worked for a system of national parks in Colombia which sought to protect the Amazon rainforests at the border area of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, and to conserve the territories of indigenous tribes that have no contact with outside civilization. 


September 15, 2020
This diagram illustrates the processes occurring within hailstorms, and how satellites observe these storms and the damage they cause to the land surface. Credit: NASA
As a child, Kristopher Bedka was fascinated with weather extremes. He grew up in Chicago and always wanted to experience the maximum that the atmosphere had to offer. “When it was forecasted to be cold, I always wanted to see and feel what record cold and snow were like. I wanted us to have two feet of snow instead of two inches. When a severe storm warning was issued, I always stared out the window wanting to see the worst of the storm.” In high school he was given a survey that asked him to choose what he wanted to be when he grew up, and among all of the options meteorologist stood out to him. After reading about some of the possibilities within the field of meteorology, he decided to give it a try. After graduating from high school he went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in meteorology at Northern Illinois University, and his Master of Science in atmospheric sciences and meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


September 10, 2020
GOES imagery of a hailstorm
When a hail storm strikes, the damage can be catastrophic for homes, businesses, agriculture and infrastructure. In fact, with damage totals sometimes exceeding $1 billion, hailstorms are the costliest severe storm hazard for the insurance industry, making reliable, long-term data necessary to estimate insured damage and assess extreme loss risks. Video of Hailstorm near Burkburnett, Texas A Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite–16 (GOES-16) animation of color-enhanced infrared wavelength temperature overlaid upon visible wavelength brightness imagery from May 22-23, 2020. White-colored areas embedded within magenta shading indicate cloud temperatures colder than -80 degrees Celsius and strong updrafts, commonly referred to as overshooting cloud tops. A plume of warmer colors (red) with different cloud top texture streaming to the northeast out of the updraft near Burkburnett, Texas indicate an above anvil cirrus plume, a strong indicator of ice injection into the stratosphere and an extremely severe storm. Hail exceeding 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter was observed in Burkburnett and 4-inch (10 cm) diameter hail was reported near Davidson, Oklahoma. That’s why a team of NASA scientists is working with international partners to use satellite data to detect hailstorms, hail damage, and improve our understanding of hail frequency. This project will provide long term regional- to global-scale maps of severe storm occurrence, catastrophe models, and new methods to improve short-term forecasting of these storms. “We’re using data from many satellite sensors to really dig in and understand when and where hailstorms are likely to occur and the widespread damage that they can cause," said Kristopher Bedka, principal investigator at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. "This is a first-of-its-kind project and we’re beginning to show how useful this satellite data can be to the reinsurance industry, forecasters, researchers, and many other stakeholders.”


September 2, 2020
Captured by the ASTER instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite, this false-color map shows the burn area of the River and Carmel fires in Monterey County, California. Vegetation (including crops) is shown in red; the burn area (dark blue/gray) is in the c
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
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 throug
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
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the NOAA-20 satellite acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 7:20 a.m. CDT on August 26, 2020. Clouds are shown in infrared using brightness temperature data, which is useful for distinguish
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.