Image from TERRA
Tue, 24 Aug 2021 13:05 EDT

Smoke from several large wildfires burning in Northern California can be seen traveling miles into the atmosphere.

Image from TERRA
Fri, 20 Aug 2021 12:00 EDT

Drought is a natural part of the climate cycle, but as Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm due to climate change, droughts are becoming more frequent, severe and pervasive. Ranchers throughout the U.S. are using data from NASA and others to care for their herds and the land during drought conditions.

Image from TERRA
Thu, 19 Aug 2021 12:09 EDT

Evapotranspiration: Watching Over Water Use

Tag: MODIS

MODIS News and Events

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Congratulations, ESA!

ESA: Sentinel and the Copernicus program