Image from TERRA
Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:49 EST

Central Africa is still on fire a month after the October 30 image of the fire was posted. Most likely these fires are agricultural in nature.

Image from TERRA
Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:47 EST

Just like the Woolsey Fire's scar which was highlighted on the NASA Fire page on November 16, the Camp Fire scar is visible from space in this image taken by the Terra satellite on November 26, 2018.

Image from TERRA
Thu, 15 Nov 2018 11:55 EST

In the wake of a fire, a burn scar appears which takes a long time to heal. This scar is from the Woolsey fire which has taken its toll around Thousand Oaks, California.

Tag: Climate Variability and Change

Climate Variability and Change

Terra on the Earth Observatory: May

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The Rains of Roanu

May 24, 2016 

Tropical Storm Roanu made landfall in Bangladesh, unleashing heavy winds and rain on the country’s populous coastal communities. On May 21, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of the storm. Roanu progressed northeast over the Bay of Bengal before making landfall in Bangladesh.


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Early Breakup of the Beaufort Sea Ice 

May 20, 2016 

The Beaufort Sea ice pack starts to thin and break up in spring when temperatures begin to rise, usually in late May. However, much of the Beaufort Sea’s ice had already broken by mid-April. Images from the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the progression in April in 2014, 2015, and 2016.


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Widespread Warmth Envelops Greenland 

May 18, 2016

Land surface temperature data from the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite shows a much warmer than average April in Greenland.


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Heat Fuels Fire at Fort McMurray

May 7, 2016 

Land surface data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer showed increased land surface temperatures near Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta, Canada, where a destructive wildfire burned.


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Heat Wave Hits Thailand, India

May 4, 2016

Land surface temperature map based on data from the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite shows a warmer than average Southeast Asia in April.

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.

Terra on the Earth Observatory: February

February 19, 2016
Ash Plume and Sea Ice Near Zhupanovsky – Since October, 2015 Zhupanovsky volcano in far eastern Russia has periodically been spewing ash into the atmosphere.  This MODIS image from February 13, 2016 shows an ash plume from Zhupanovsky volcano, which resulted in a code-red for air travel in the region.

Sea surface temperatures indicated that the warm "blob" has dissipated. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using microwave and infrared multi-sensor SST data from Remote Sensing Systems.

February 12, 2016
The Demise of the Warm Blob – Ocean surface temperatures, showed a warm “blob” off the northern United State’s coast. This cell of warm ocean water in the Pacific Ocean no longer is present, having lasted from the winter of 2013 through December of 2015.

February 17, 2016
Waves Above and Below the Water – The Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired an image of wave patterns in the sky and in the water off the coast of Western Australia.

MODIS image of cloud streets over the Great Lakes.

February 11, 2016
Cloud Streets Over the Great Lakes – MODIS captured this image of cloud streets crossing the Great Lakes.

February 10, 2016
Snow in the Central U.S. – Snow from a blizzard blanketed parts of the Midwest. This image from Terra’s Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured the snow that remained after the clouds cleared over Nebraska.

February 6, 2016
Open- and Closed-Celled Clouds over the Pacific – Terra’s Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured in one image examples of two different types of convective clouds, open-celled and closed-celled.

February 5, 2016
Mount Erebus, Antarctica – Mount Erebus in Antarctica, thought to be the most southern volcano is still active. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emissions and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured images in visible and infrared, showing not just the volcano, but also the lava lake in its interior.

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February 3, 2016
Drought in Southern Africa – Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data from Terra’s Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor are being used to track drought conditions in southern Africa, analyzing the effects of the current strong El Niño on vegetation.

New Satellite-Based Maps to Aid in Climate Forecasts

 Global map of the average amount of time that live biomass carbon and dead organic carbon spend in carbon reservoirs around the world, in years. Credit: A. Anthony Bloom

Global map of the average amount of time that live biomass carbon and dead organic carbon spend in carbon reservoirs around the world, in years. Credit: A. Anthony Bloom

February 8, 2016

New, detailed maps of the world’s natural landscapes created using NASA satellite data could help scientists better predict the impacts of future climate change.

The maps of forests, grasslands and other productive ecosystems provide the most complete picture yet of how carbon from the atmosphere is reused and recycled by Earth’s natural ecosystems.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; and Wageningen University, Netherlands, used a computer model to analyze a decade of satellite and field study data from 2001 to 2010. The existing global maps of vegetation and fire activity they studied were produced from data from NASA’s Terra, Aqua and ICESat spacecraft. The researchers then constructed maps that show where — and for how long — carbon is stored in plants, trees and soils.

The maps reveal how the biological properties of leaves, roots and wood in different natural habitats affect their ability to store carbon across the globe, and show that some ecosystems retain carbon longer than others. For example, large swaths of the dry tropics store carbon for a relatively short time due to frequent fires, while in warm, wet climates, carbon is stored longer in vegetation than in soils.

Although it is well known that Earth’s natural ecosystems absorb and process large amounts of carbon dioxide, much less is known about where the carbon is stored or how long it remains there. Improved understanding about how carbon is stored will allow researchers to more accurately predict the impacts of climate change.

Study first author Anthony Bloom, a JPL postdoctoral scientist, said: “Our findings are a major step toward using satellite imagery to decipher how carbon flows through Earth’s natural ecosystems from satellite images. These results will help us understand how Earth’s natural carbon balance will respond to human disturbances and climate change.”

Professor Mathew Williams of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said, “Recent studies have highlighted the disagreement among Earth system models in the way they represent the current global carbon cycle. “Our results constitute a useful, modern benchmark to help improve these models and the robustness of global climate projections.”

To generate values for each of the 13,000 cells on each map, a supercomputer at the Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility ran the model approximately 1.6 trillion times.

New data can be added to the maps as it becomes available. The impact of major events such as forest fires on the ability of ecosystems to store carbon can be determined within three months of their occurrence, the researchers say.

The study, published Feb. 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earth

 

Media Contact

Alan Buis Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0474
Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

Corin Campbell
University of Edinburgh
011-44-0131-650-6382
Corin.campbell@ed.ac.uk

2016-037

Study: Long-Term Global Warming Needs External Drivers

Terra/CERES views the world in outgoing longwave radiation (left) and reflected solar radiation (right). Image Credit: NASA

Terra/CERES views the world in outgoing longwave radiation (left) and reflected solar radiation (right). Image Credit: NASA

February 8, 2016

A study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, shows, in detail, the reason why global temperatures remain stable in the long run unless they are pushed by outside forces, such as increased greenhouse gases due to human impacts.

Lead author Patrick Brown, a doctoral student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and his JPL colleagues combined global climate models with satellite measurements of changes in the energy approaching and leaving Earth at the top of the atmosphere over the past 15 years. The satellite data were from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments on NASA’s Aqua and Terra spacecraft. Their work reveals in new detail how Earth cools itself back down after a period of natural warming.

Scientists have long known that as Earth warms, it is able to restore its temperature equilibrium through a phenomenon known as the Planck Response. The phenomenon is an overall increase in infrared energy that Earth emits as it warms. The response acts as a safety valve of sorts, allowing more of the accumulating heat to be released through the top of Earth’s atmosphere into space.

The new research, however, shows it’s not quite as simple as that.

“Our analysis confirmed that the Planck Response plays the dominant role in restoring global temperature stability, but to our surprise, we found that it tends to be overwhelmed locally by heat-trapping changes in clouds, water vapor, and snow and ice,” Brown said. “This initially suggested that the climate system might be able to create large, sustained changes in temperature all by itself.”

A more detailed investigation of the satellite observations and climate models helped the researchers finally reconcile what was happening globally versus locally.

“While global temperature tends to be stable due to the Planck Response, there are other important, previously less appreciated, mechanisms at work, too,” said Wenhong Li, assistant professor of climate at Duke. These mechanisms include the net release of energy over anomalously cool regions and the transport of energy to continental and polar regions.  In those regions, the Planck Response overwhelms positive, heat-trapping local energy feedbacks.

“This emphasizes the importance of large-scale energy transport and atmospheric circulation changes in reconciling local versus global energy feedbacks and, in the absence of external drivers, restoring Earth’s global temperature equilibrium,” Li said.

The researchers say the findings may finally help put the chill on skeptics’ belief that long-term global warming occurs in an unpredictable manner, independently of external drivers such as human impacts.

“This study underscores that large, sustained changes in global temperature like those observed over the last century require drivers such as increased greenhouse gas concentrations,” said Brown.

“Scientists have long believed that increasing greenhouse gases played a major role in determining the warming trend of our planet,” added JPL co-author Jonathan Jiang. “This study provides further evidence that natural climate cycles alone are insufficient to explain the global warming observed over the last century.”

The research is published this month in the Journal of Climate. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earth

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0474
Alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

Tim Lucas
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
919-613-8084
tdlucas@duke.edu

2016-036