High winds propelled a wildfire through parts of Valparaiso, Chile, on April 13, 2014. It quickly became the largest fire in the history of this port city. The fire started in a forested area on April 12 and eventually reached wooden homes built on steep hills around the city. According to news reports, at least 12 people died, 2,000 homes were destroyed, and about 10,000 people evacuated as the fire moved through a section of the historic city.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image of the fire at 11:10 am local time (14:10 UTC) on April 13. Fire detections are outlined in red in the forest south of the city, which is pale gray. A long plume of smoke stretches northwest over the Pacific Ocean, a clear indication that winds were strong and blowing the flames toward the city. Read more
- NASA image courtesy LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.
“To create the corridors, Jantz started with a tropical carbon map that Goetz, Laporte, Alessandro Baccini, and other WHRC scientists developed a few years ago. That map included data from NASA’s ICESat, Terra, and Aqua satellites, Japan’s ALOS satellite, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, and from thousands of ground-based observations. The tropical carbon map became the base layer on the map above.” Read more
- NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using data from Patrick Jantz and Alessandro Baccini at Woods Hole Research Center. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
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 Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data provided by Inbal Reshef, Global Agricultural Monitoring Project. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
Offshore from Argentina, spring is in bloom. Massive patches of floating phytoplankton colored the ocean in November 2013. These microscopic, plant-like organisms are the primary producers of the ocean, harnessing sunlight to nourish themselves and to become food for everything from zooplankton to fish to whales.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on November 26, 2013. Read more
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Michael Carlowicz.
This article from IEEE talks about how satellite data can predict agricultural output and famine. Terra plays a large role in measuring the National Data Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is measured using spectral bands 1 and 2 (infrared to visible light) of the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. NDVI compares the amount of light reflected in near-infrared with that reflected in visible light; if there is more infrared, the vegetation in that spot is likely to be dense and thus yield more of the crop.” Armed with this information and data from other satellites researchers are able to get a better picture of how the worlds crops are faring. Read more