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Earth's freshwater future: extremes of flood and drought

13 June 2019

NASA satellites are a prominent tool for accounting for water, as it constantly cycles from water vapour to rain and snow falling onto soils, and across and beneath the landscape. As Earth's atmosphere warms due to greenhouse gases and the satellite data record continues to get longer and more detailed, scientists are studying how climate change is affecting the distribution of water.

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Mapping our global human footprint

12 June 2019

The number of people flocking to cities in search of employment and better prospects is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2050, the global population is estimated to reach nine billion, 70% of which will be living in urban areas. The World Settlement Footprint 2015 (WSF-2015) is the first map, using mass collections of radar and optical satellite imagery, to provide a global overview of the world's human settlements.

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Satellites and drones to support railway infrastructure maintenance

08 June 2019

The MOMIT project aims at developing and demonstrating a new use of remote sensing technologies for railway infrastructure monitoring. Here, Valeria Donzelli, Project Coordinator, explains how the solutions to come from the project will support the maintenance and prevention processes within the infrastructure management lifecycle.

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Swiss Environment Goes Under Close Watch

07 June 2019

The Swiss Data Cube (SDC) is an innovative technology that gathers all available satellite images from the American Landsat program and the European Sentinel 1 and 2.

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Temperature maps from space would 'boost crop production'

07 June 2019

Scientists are developing a satellite system to record the temperatures of individual fields of crops.

The aim is to survey land temperatures to estimate water-use by plants and to show how they transfer that water back to the atmosphere.

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Antarctic glaciers named after satellites

07 June 2019

Dramatic changes in the shape of the Antarctic ice sheet have become emblematic of the climate crisis. And, in deference to the critical role that satellites play in measuring and monitoring Antarctic glaciology, seven areas of fast-flowing ice on the Antarctic Peninsula have been named after Earth observation satellites.

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Looking into changes in European landscapes with the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service

06 June 2019

Land is the foundation of our society and an extremely important source of economic activity. Land is also vital for filtering our water and hosting the biodiversity that helps sustain our livelihood. Efficient land monitoring is crucial to ensure rational and sustainable use of this precious resource.

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Snow grain size - it matters

29 May 2019

Most of us probably wouldn't think of describing snow in terms of its grain size. However, grain size is fundamental to the amount of sunlight that snow reflects back into space – its albedo.

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Copernicus Sentinel-2 helps generate "game changing" intertidal habitat maps

28 May 2019

Monitoring rapidly changing intertidal habitats is difficult, Sentinel satellites of the European Union's Copernicus Programme, can potentially be used to observe a site every few days with images that have a spatial resolution down to 10 m.

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NASA-Supported Monitoring Network Assesses Ozone Layer Threats

24 May 2019

On the heels of the first definitive signs of the ozone layer recovery last year, an international team of scientists discovered that production and emission of a banned, potent ozone-depleting chemical is on the rise again. A new research finding, published in Nature on 23 May, locates the source region for about half of those new emissions. Since 2013, they found that an increase of about 7000 tons per year of trichlorofluromethane, or CFC-11, added to the atmosphere originates from eastern China.

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New studies increase confidence in NASA’s measure of Earth’s temperature

23 May 2019

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

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Climate change may make the Arctic tundra a drier landscape

23 May 2019

With climate change, the Arctic tundra is likely to become drier. Lakes may shrink in size and smaller lakes may even disappear according to a new Dartmouth study. In western Greenland, Kangerlussuaq experienced a 28 percent decrease in the number of smaller lakes (those less than 10,000 square meters) and a 20 percent decrease in total area from 1969 to 2017. Many of the lakes that had disappeared in 1969 have since become vegetated. The findings are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.

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New land cover maps depict 15 years of change across America

20 May 2019

Today, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released the latest edition of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) for the U.S. – the most comprehensive land cover database that the USGS has ever produced. The NLCD 2016 documents land cover change in the Lower 48 states from 2001 to 2016. During this 15-year period, 7.6 percent of the conterminous U.S. changed land cover at least once.

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The air we Breathe

20 May 2019

Air pollution is a global environmental health problem, especially for those living in urban areas. Not only does it negatively impact our ecosystems, it considerably affects our health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 8 million premature deaths per year are linked to air pollution, more than double of previous estimates.

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Satellites yield insight into not so permanent permafrost

17 May 2019

Ice is without doubt one of the first casualties of climate change, but the effects of our warming world are not only limited to ice melting on Earth's surface. Ground that has been frozen for thousands of years is also thawing, adding to the climate crisis and causing immediate problems for local communities.

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Seasonal Monsoon Rains Block Key Ocean Current

17 May 2019

Our oceans and the complex "conveyer belt" system of currents that connects them play an important role in regulating global climate. The oceans store heat from the Sun, and ocean currents transport that heat from the tropics to the poles. They release the heat and moisture into the air, which moderates climate nearby. But what happens if part of that conveyer belt jams?

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Antarctic instability 'is spreading'

16 May 2019

Almost a quarter of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet can now be considered unstable, according to a new assessment of 25 years of satellite data.

By unstable, scientists mean more ice is being lost from the region than is being replenished through snowfall.

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Water Cycle Wrapped

15 May 2019

As our climate changes, the availability of freshwater is a growing issue for many people around the world. Understanding the water cycle and how the climate and human usage is causing shifts in natural cycling processes is vital to safeguarding supplies. While numerous satellites measure individual components of the water cycle, it has never been described as a whole over a particular region – until now.

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Monitoring Earth’s shifting land

15 May 2019

The monitoring of land subsidence is of vital importance for low-lying countries, but also areas which are prone to peculiar ground instability.

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Tracking basking sharks with satellites in the Channel Islands

10 May 2019

Spring is notoriously windy along the coast of California. Strong northwest winds can cause hazardous sea states to crop up out of nowhere, especially in the Santa Barbara Channel. But as dawn broke on a crisp April morning, the first rays of light revealed a glassy, calm channel. Not so much as a ripple disturbed the surface. These were perfect conditions for spotting one of the most elusive visitors to the channel's waters: basking sharks.

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