August 21, 2020
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured an image of storm-damaged fields around Marshalltown, Iowa, on August 11th, 2020. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
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.


July 30, 2020
Banner for NASA Applied Sciences Week
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: 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
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 Techn
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


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 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.”