News & Events
Cape Verde Under Dust
When the winds of winter sweep across West Africa, temperatures drop and skies turn yellow. Prevalent from November to March, the harmattan is a desert wind that blows across the Sahara Desert from the northeast or the east, usually as a result of a high pressure system over the northwestern Sahara. Harmattan winds pick up dust and darken skies.
A harmattan dust storm was blowing on February 28, 2014, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image. The yellow dust was concentrated largely over the Cape Verde Islands, where the mountain topography created swirling eddies and triangular wakes in the dust cloud. West Africa frames the right edge of the image, and distinct plumes of dust moved west from Senegal and Mauritania. Read more
Extratropical Cyclone over the United Kingdom
Soggy winters are not unusual in the United Kingdom, but this winter has been in a category of its own. UK Met Office meteorologists had just declared January 2014 the wettest month on record for parts of southern Britain when another series of storms swept across the area in early February.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of an extratropical cyclone bearing down on the United Kingdom on February 12, 2014. Mature extratropical cyclones often feature comma-shaped cloud patterns that are the product of “conveyor belt” circulation. While heavy precipitation is often present near the low-pressure head of the comma, a slot of dry air usually trails the west side of the tail. Read more
Drought Stressing California’s Plantscape
Persistent dry weather has grown more worrisome in the American West, with nearly two thirds of the region experiencing some level of drought. By most measures, the state of California is suffering through the worst of it. The effects of the dry spell are visible in the mountains, where snow pack is lacking, and now in the vegetation cover on the landscape.
Nearly all of California was in a state of extreme drought at the end of January 2014. The past three months (November to January), six months (since August) and twelve months were all the driest periods in California since record-keeping started in 1885. From February 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014, a statewide average of 6.97 inches (177.04 millimeters) of rain fell; the norm is 22.51 inches (571.75 millimeters).
The map above shows the impact of drought on California’s farms, forests, and wild lands. Based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, the map contrasts plant health from January 17 to February 1, 2014, against average conditions for the same period over the past decade. Read more
NASA Satellite Eyes Sochi Olympic Sites
If Satellites won gold metals, Terra may win for most striking view of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. Using the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emissions and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) the mountains of the Rosa Khutar ski resort near Sochi, Russia. Snow is shown as white, while vegetation is red and buildings are gray. At the bottom of the image the Black Sea appears black. read more from JPL news
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Nature helped the Olympic hosts in 2014 with cold weather and some natural snow in the weeks prior to the games. This map shows the extent of snow in the region on February 3, 2014. The map was made with data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite and matches the natural color image. Unlike the natural color image, the snow map differentiates between snow and cloud, and between land that is entirely covered in snow, and land where snow cover is patchy. Krasnaya Polyana, the town at the base of mountain where Rosa Khutor is located, has little to no snow, but the nearby slopes appear to be mostly snow covered. Sochi is snow free. Read more
Winter Heat Swamps Alaska
While much of the continental United States endured several cold snaps in January 2014, record-breaking warmth gripped Alaska. Spring-like conditions set rivers rising and avalanches tumbling.
This map depicts land surface temperature anomalies in Alaska for January 23–30, 2014. Based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the map shows how 2014 temperatures compared to the 2001–2010 average for the same week. Areas with warmer than average temperatures are shown in red; near-normal temperatures are white; and areas that were cooler than the base period are blue. Gray indicates oceans or areas where clouds blocked the satellite from collecting usable data. Read more
Snow and Ice in the Southeastern United States
A large winter storm swept through the southeastern United States in January 2014, dropping snow and ice on an area unaccustomed to dealing with winter weather.
While clouds still covered most of the area affected by the storm when the Terra satellite passed over on January 29, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board captured this view of snow on the ground in parts of northern Georgia, northern South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina. According to the National Weather Service, the storm dropped up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) of snow in parts of North Carolina, 4 inches (10 centimeters) in parts of South Carolina and Georgia, and 2 inches (5 centimeters) in parts of Tennessee. Atlanta received 2.6 inches (6.6 centimeters) of snow. Many areas also received significant amounts of freezing rain and sleet. Read more
Haze in the Sichuan Basin
A layer of haze filled China’s Sichuan Basin on January 23, 2014, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image. The haze obscured many features usually visible in satellite images of the area, including Sichuan province’s largest city, Chengdu. In the eastern part of the basin the tops of a series of ridges were visible above the layer of pollution. Skies were clear in the highlands west of the basin, while tendrils of pollution snaked into valleys northeast and southeast of it. Read more
All Dry on the Western Front
2013 was a dry year for California, but it has nothing on 2014 so far. January is on track to be California’s driest on record, and since the state receives half of its precipitation between December and February, it appears that the 2013-2014 water year could be the driest on record too. With that possibility in view, California governor, Edmund G. Brown, Jr. declared a state of emergency on January 17, urging Californians to conserve water.
From brown landscapes to the bare mountains, California is clearly dry in this view from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, taken on January 18, 2014. The lower image, taken on January 18, 2013, contrasts last year’s drought conditions with the extreme conditions currently in place. Read more
Colby Fire, California
A wildfire started and spread quickly in the foothills northeast of Los Angeles on January 16, 2014. The plume of ash and smoke blanketed much of the metropolitan area and prompted air quality warnings.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites captured these images of the Colby fire just before (top) and just after noon on January 16. The morning image is clearer because the scene was centered under the satellite, while the afternoon image is fuzzy because the satellite was observing from an angle. Read more