Research and Application News
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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