Image from TERRA
Mon, 30 Oct 2017 12:25 EDT

Former Tropical Storm Saola transitioned into an extra-tropical storm on Oct. 29 as it tracked southeast of the big island of Japan.

Image from TERRA
Tue, 24 Oct 2017 11:36 EDT

When Typhoon Lan made landfall in Japan on Oct. 22, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission core satellite or GPM analyzed the storm and added up the high rainfall that it generated.

Image from TERRA
Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:22 EDT

A new image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite shows the growing fire scar on the landscape.

Tag: Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems

Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems

Using MISR to Track the Tinder Fire

MISR with it’s multiple angled views of the Tinder fire, makes it uniquely capable of tracking the plume height and direction of one of the first fires of the 2018 season in the United States. The fire started on April 27th, 2018 from an abandoned campsite and quickly spread through, Cococino National Forest in, eastern Arizona. This MISR data is from April 30th, 2018, showing the plume height and direction. The plume reached nearly 4 kilometers high near the source of the fire. Typically the higher a plume reaches, the further the impact extends. Scientists are using data like this to better understand how fires impact air quality beyond the source area.

Read more:

Using Satellites to Track the Tinder Fire  on NASA Earth Observatory

Tinder Fire in Arizona Viewed by NASA’s MISR from JPL’s Photojournal

 

Terra on the Earth Observatory: July

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Cloud Streets over Timor Sea

July 24, 2016

These “streets of the sky” called cloud streets are long parallel bands of cumulus clouds. On July 15, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite aquired these images of cloud streets off the northern coast of Australia. Read more on NASA’s Earth Observatory.


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Swirls of Ice in the Labrador Sea

July 21, 2016

What first appeared to be a storm wasn’t a low pressure system in the clouds, but a swirling mass of ice in the sea. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites acquired views of an ice eddy off the coast of Labrador, Canada, on July 2, 2016. Read more on NASA’s Earth Observatory.


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Caterpillars Take Bite Out of Rhode Island Forests

July 15, 2016

Gypsy moth caterpillars damaged parts of New England’s forests and the damage is extensive enough to be seen from space. The Moderate Imaging Spectroradiomenter on NASA’s Terra satellite captured images of the damage over Rhode Island, Massachussetts and Connecticut during the pests’ population boom in the summer of 2016. Read more on  NASA’s Earth Observatory.


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Making Waves in the Sky off of Africa

July 14 , 2016

On June 26, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of cloud gravity waves off the coast of Angola and Namibia. Learn more about this phenomenon on NASA’s Earth Observatory.


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Unusual Dust Off of Chile

July 12, 2016

Large amounts of dust were airborne off the west coast of South America. This is not a typical location dust events such as this one. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image of airborne dust off the coast of Chile, on July 8, 2016. Read more on NASA’s Earth Observatory.


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Studying the Sherpa Fire

July 2, 2016

The Sherpa fire west of Santa Barbara, California was contained before it caused damage to homes or infrastructure. However, it still charred several thousand acres as of June 29. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite acquired an image of the burn scar on June 19, 2016. Read more on NASA’s Earth Observatory.


Terra on the Earth Observatory: April

April 26, 2016

A Sudden Color Change on Lake KivuThe Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra Satellite captured images of a whiting event in Lake Kivu. The seasonal event is stronger this year, giving Lake Kivu a milky color. 



April 22, 2016

Using Clouds to Map Life – A team of researchers are using cloud data from the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra Satellite to create detailed maps of cloud cover and variability. The team found that cloud cover could be an indicator and a better predictor of a songbird and flower’s range than temperature and precipitation.


April 17, 2016

Yellowstone National Park – Learn about Yellowstone National Park and view an image made possible by the Digital Elevation Model from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite.


April 14, 2016

Sierra Nevada Snowpack is Better, But not Normal – Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains dwindled over recent years; however, the winter of 2015-2016 and the strong El Nino provided a thicker and more extensive snowpack. Regardless, snow levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains were still below average. Images from NASA’s Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) clearly show the difference between years.


April 13, 2016

Antarctic Ice Shelf Sheds Bergs – The Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra Satellite captured this striking image of the formation of two new icebergs as they broke away from the Nansen Ice Shelf into the Southern Ocean on April 7, 2016.


April 9, 2016

Greening Ascension Island – When Charles Darwin first visited Ascension Island it was barren, but with the assistance of Joseph Hooker in the 1800s plants were introduced and now cover much of this once bleak island. The image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emissions and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite shows the now green Ascension Island and it’s Green Mountain.


April 3, 2016

Pavlov Erupts Again – Pavlov Volcano, Alaska’s most active volcano, began erupting for the first time since November 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites acquired images of the ash plume at 11:45 a.m on March 28, 2016.

Tracking Deer Habitat by Satellite

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NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using NDVI data from Aqua/MODIS and mule deer habitat data courtesy of Stoner et al. (2016). Caption by Tassia Owen with Mike Carlowicz.

Raising a new fawn is no easy task. A mother mule deer needs a lot of food for herself and her growing fawn. New satellite-based research suggests that those mule deer mothers are in tune with their environment, with reproduction patterns closely matching the cycles of plant growth in their habitat.

Mule deer need a rich supply of vegetation for the late stages of pregnancy and for nursing their offspring after birth. For this reason, birth rates peak when food sources are increasing, shortly before the peak of annual plant growth. What is surprising is that mule deer in the colder, snowy northern parts of their range give birth earlier in the year than deer in the warmer southern reaches. Through a combination of satellite measurements and ground-based population counts, scientists can see the reason for the difference from space.

Mule deer, a commonly hunted species, are closely monitored and counted by biologists and land managers. A great deal of data about the size and health of the population is collected each year in order to determine the proper number of hunting permits to issue. At the same time, remote sensing scientists have a space-based way to track the health of vegetation. It is called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is a measure of the “greenness” of the landscape. NDVI measures how plants absorb and reflect light; the more infrared light is reflected, the healthier the vegetation. So by measuring the greenness of the mule deer habitat, scientists were able to mark the beginning and peak of the plant and deer growing season.

The map above shows the range of mule deer from southern Idaho to central Arizona. The habitat is divided into a green southern zone, a purple northern zone, and a gray transition zone. The mean NDVI for the northern and southern regions is displayed in the graph, which plots the vegetation index for each day of the calendar year. NDVI was measured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites.

According to lead author David Stoner of Utah State University, vegetation greenness in the northern latitudes peaks earlier than in the southern latitudes. Since nutrient-dense food sources were available earlier in the year, there was more food available for mule deer mothers and babies at the time when they needed it most. That greenness is partly a result of a consistent steady stream of snowmelt moisture feeding the deeply rooted mountain vegetation.

“We had never tracked the deer population this way, and we had never been able to predict it with such precision,” said Stoner. “We can estimate the start and peak of the season using satellite imagery, and then we can map and predict when the deer are giving birth.”

In southern latitudes, on the other hand, the plants are more dependent on rain from summer monsoonal showers. This means vegetation quality peaks later in the year, after a brief drought that comes before the summer monsoons. As a result, does give birth later in the south than in the north.

“This kind of applied research is very important for making remote sensing data relevant to wildlife management efforts,” said Jyoteshwar Nagol, a researcher at the University of Maryland. Deer have a huge economic impact in the United States, from hunting to crop damage to car accidents. As regional climates shift or droughts occur, deer could migrate farther or expand their range to find food.

Reference
Stoner, D., Sexton, S. and Nagol, J. (2016) Ungulate Reproductive Parameters Track Satellite Observations of Plant Phenology across Latitude and Climatological Regimes. PLoS One, 11 (2) e0148780.

MODIS’s New Vegetation Index: Ecosystem Sensitivity and Climate Variability

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Global contribution of three climate variables to the vegetation sensitivity index from 2000–2013. Temperature is in red, water availability in blue and cloudiness in green. Areas with dominant barren land and permanent ice are grey. Image credit: Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability. Alistair W. R. Seddon, Marc Macias-Fauria, Peter R. Long, David Benz & Kathy J. Willis. Nature. (2016) doi:10.1038/nature16986

MODIS data from the past 14 years is being used to generate a model that assesses how different ecosystems respond to climate variability, making it possible to compare regional sensitivity and resilience. The new index is called the vegetation sensitivity index, which makes it possible to compare vulnerability of different regions, looking at why some areas are more vulnerable than others.

The new index is unique.  Most studies about ecosystem resilience typically monitor productivity or biodiversity trends over an average climate, such as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) or the enhanced vegetation index (EVI), which also uses MODIS data. This new index instead looks at response to climate variation.

Read the news article from Nature.

Read the journal article from Nature.