The August Complex Fire and others this fire season have been sending far-reaching plumes of wildfire smoke into the atmosphere that worsen air quality in California and beyond. Predicting where that smoke will travel and how bad the air will be downwind is a challenge, but Earth-observing satellites can help.
A paper appearing recently in EOS shows
that Terra data is continually being used to test new modeling processes. In
this study, Terra cloud top height data was used as a tool to compare the
results of the superparamertization model to data from a day in April, 2012
over the Netherlands. The superparameterization model produced results that
more accurately depicted the cloud height data from Terra, than the standard
parameterized version of OpenIFS.
Worldview Snapshots is an easy-to-use application for rapidly producing images from daily MODIS and VIIRS global imagery.
Josh Blumenfeld, EOSDIS Science Writer
After almost 20 years, the Rapid Response system that was created to display daily satellite images is being retired. The good news is that a new system with greater capability and flexibility for producing these images is taking its place – Worldview Snapshots.
Worldview Snapshots is a lightweight application created by NASA’s Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project for quickly making satellite images for any location on Earth (including the poles). Users can even configure the application to produce daily images of a specific area of interest, and images can be previewed and adjusted before they are downloaded. Based on the size of the geographic area selected, Worldview Snapshots even provides a suggested optimal image resolution from a drop-down menu.
Worldview Snapshots offers daily base layers from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)instrument aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua Earth observing satellites as well as from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the joint NASA/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite. To keep Worldview Snapshots uncluttered and allow for rapid image creation, the application features only nine common MODIS and VIIRS base layers and only three overlays: fires (provided by the Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS [LANCE] system); coastlines; and coastlines, borders, and roads. If the fire overlay is selected, the fire overlay will be matched with the corresponding base layer. For example, if a Terra MODIS Corrected Reflectance base layer is chosen, the application will use the Terra MODIS Day Fires/Thermal Anomalies overlay.
The ESDIS Project created Worldview Snapshots using the same API that powers the Worldview data visualization application. In fact, imagery for both Worldview and Worldview Snapshots is provided through NASA’s Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS). However, while Worldview is designed for in-depth interactive exploration of satellite imagery using more than 800 layers (including the ability to compare imagery from different days and create animated GIFs of imagery covering several days), Worldview Snapshots is designed for the rapid creation of static images based on a limited menu of pre-defined settings. This makes Worldview Snapshots well-suited for users with limited internet bandwidth, such as users aboard research vessels or conducting research in remote areas. Want to explore a snapshot in more detail? A simple click of a button imports Worldview Snapshots settings into Worldview, where the image can be interactively explored in more detail.
Worldview Snapshots is a logical evolution of the Rapid Response system. When it was created in 2001, Rapid Response was designed to provide images created from Terra MODIS data shortly after a satellite overpass. These static images met the needs of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Interagency Fire Center, and other federal and state users. While lacking the processing and quality assessment required for scientific use, these near real-time images were perfect for monitoring and tracking ongoing events, such as wildfires or storms.
By 2007, Rapid Response had incorporated data and imagery from Aqua MODIS and was producing daily images of pre-defined areas. LANCE was developed in 2009 to deliver data and imagery from instruments aboard numerous Earth observing missions within three hours of a satellite overpass. The advent of global mapping services like Google Maps created a desire for interactive imagery for any point on Earth, not just the pre-defined Rapid Response images. As a result, an effort to create daily global MODIS imagery was initiated in 2011 along with the development of an application to allow users to interactively explore this imagery. The result was Worldview, which was introduced in December 2011.
The combination of Worldview Snapshots’ ability to quickly create images showing any location on Earth and Worldview’s ability to enable in-depth interactive exploration of daily global imagery provides users with an unmatched, integrated flexibility to explore the planet using NASA Earth observing data. See for yourself and create some snapshots today!
Image credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.
Terra and its sensors are back on line and collecting data. The ASTER team released this first light image. The area is in Queensland, Australia where the Elliott River meets the Pacific Ocean. To the south of the river is the Burrum Coast National Park, appearing deep red. The brighter red areas to the east of the National Park is farmland. North of the River is the small town of Elliott Heads with a population of less than 900 people.
Sentinel-3A, the European Space Agency (ESA) – developed Earth observing satellite successfully launched on February 16, 2016. Sentinel-3A is part of Europe’s Copernicus environment program and carries four sensors: The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR), the Ocean Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Altimeter, and the microwave radiometer.
Researchers who use Terra MODIS data are particularly interested in OLCI. OLCI images the earth similarly to MODIS on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. It measures specific ocean color, vegetation and atmospheric measurements at 300m spatial resolution and at 1270 km swath width. Sentinel 3A has a morning crossing time like Terra, making Sentinel-3A the most similar to Terra satellite currently flying. Like MODIS data, Sentinel data will be free of charge and provided worldwide.
NASA climate scientist Ralph Kahn presented a Maniac lecture at Goddard Space Flight Center entitled, “The Stories Data Tell.” At an early age, Ralph found that separating causality from coincidence can be the lynchpin of understanding, and at times can help identify prerogatives or highlight the path toward the better options. Ralph shared his experiences, professional, personal, and at the intersection of the two, where the difference seemed to matter. And how data can help address this challenge, providing evidence one way or the other – sometimes!
Ralph Kahn, a Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, received his PhD in applied physics from Harvard University. He spent 20 years as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he studied climate change on Earth and Mars, and also led the Earth & Planetary Atmospheres Research Element. Kahn is Aerosol Scientist for the NASA Earth Observing System’s Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite. He focuses on using MISR’s unique observations, combined with other data and numerical models, to learn about wildfire smoke, desert dust, volcano and air pollution particles, and to apply the results to regional and global climate-change questions. Kahn has lectured on Climate Change and atmospheric physics at UCLA, Caltech and many other venues, and is editor and founder of PUMAS, the on-line journal of science and math examples for pre-college education.