NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water, Ecosystems, Land Surface.

NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water, Ecosystems, Land

A drought-stricken Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., is captured here in 2014 by the Landsat 8 satellite. Bleached rock along the edges shows the reservoir’s shoreline when at capacity. NASA’s OPERA project brings together multiple space missions to track such water and land changes.

Credits: NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon using Landsat data from USGS

Merging data from multiple satellites. OPERA can help government agencies. Disaster responders. And the public access data about natural and human impacts to the land.

Where are flood waters flowing after major storms? Where are the changes in tree and plant cover after droughts, wildfires, deforestation, or mining? How much did the land move during an earthquake or volcanic eruption? Scientists routinely rely on data-intensive analysis and visualization of satellite observations to track Earth’s ever-changing surface. A new project will make it possible for anyone with an internet connection to begin to answer these questions. And more about changes to our dynamic planet.

The OPERA (Observational Products for End-Users from Remote Sensing Analysis) project is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA-Led Project Tracking

With partners from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Maryland, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Southern Methodist University. Scientists conceived OPERA in 2020 to address satellite data needs across different federal agencies. And to enable better access to information on everything from water management to wildfire monitoring. The goal is to make specific satellite-based observations free and timely for users. The first offerings will be available in April 2023, with more to follow.

NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water

As a series of atmospheric river events deluged parts of California this winter. OPERA’s surface water maps recorded the potential overflow of several dams in a region that is home to millions of people.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Quite often satellite missions are driven by science, applications, or technology demonstration. In OPERA, we focus on fulfilling the operational needs identified by federal agencies who rely on our work.” Said David Bekaert, OPERA project manager based at JPL. “We leverage cloud computing to turn massive amounts of satellite observations into analysis-ready products relevant to our federal stakeholders. Shortening the path from satellite observation to stakeholder decision is a key driver behind the overall implementation and execution of OPERA.”

OPERA is aggregating a unique combination of user-friendly data about Earth’s dynamic surface water and land. Noted John Jones, a USGS scientist and OPERA project partner.

“The magic of OPERA is that it transcends any one space mission,” said Gerald Bawden. Program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Who helped envision the project as part of the interagency Satellite Needs Working Group. Created by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Group on Earth Observations. The Satellite Needs Working Group seeks to identify the satellite needs of U.S. federal agencies. And develop new remote sensing products that fulfill their observational gaps.

NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water, Ecosystems, Land

The first round of OPERA products ties together visible and infrared measurements from the:. ESA (European Space Agency) Sentinel-2 A/B satellites. And from Landsat 8, built by NASA and operated by the USGS. These instruments will soon be augmented by data from the cloud-penetrating radars on:. ESA’s Sentinel-1 A/B satellites and the recently launched Surface Water. And Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, a partnership between NASA and the French space agency CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales). OPERA will eventually ingest satellite radar data from the NASA-Indian Space Research Organisation Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite. Planned for launch in 2024.


The OPERA Land Surface Disturbance Alert provisional product showed vegetation loss west of:. Lake Tahoe following California’s largest fire of 2022. The red and purple colors indicate significant loss.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mapping Surface Water

OPERA’s Dynamic Surface Water eXtent product suite offers what may be the most comprehensive data source for monitoring Lakes. Rivers, Reservoirs And Streams. The first phase relies on Harmonized Landsat Sentinel-2 (HLS) optical data to generate near-global surface water mapping every few days at a 30-meter spatial resolution. Subsequent phases will use Sentinel-1, SWOT, and NISAR radar observations to map surface water more often (because radar can penetrate cloud cover).

For example, when a series of nine atmospheric river events brought heavy rain and snow to California in the winter of 2022-23, several flood-control dams faced risks of overflowing. OPERA’s surface water maps chronicled the dramatic filling of these reservoirs.

Monitoring Surface Disturbance

OPERA’s products offer new insights into both environmental and geological processes taking place on Earth’s land surfaces. Complementing its water product suite, OPERA’s Surface Disturbance product uses HLS data to map changes in vegetation cover. It could be used to observe the scars and regrowth after wildfires, track growing cities, or even discover insect infestations in forests.

“We are very excited to employ integrated Landsat and Sentinel-2 data,” said Matt Hansen, a professor at the University of Maryland and OPERA project partner. “The combined observations provide an unprecedented capability and, we expect, an unprecedented record of global land change.”

NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water, Ecosystems, Land

For example, the Mosquito Fire was detected on Sept. 6, 2022, and burned predominantly in the Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests. OPERA’s surface disturbance data product shows vegetation losses due to the fire – California’s largest of the year – which covered some 76,788 acres and lasted for 50 days.

Measuring North America Surface Displacement

OPERA’s third product, slated for release in late 2024, will provide a history of how much land surfaces in North America have moved, or deformed, due to geologic and human activities. The surface displacement product will map surface motion that is otherwise imperceptible without a vast network of GPS instruments.

“This is a transformative product for detecting landslides, sinkholes, earthquakes, volcanoes – anything that is changing the land surface,” said Bawden. “Using these satellites, we’re able to measure motions on the ground surface less than an inch. And we can begin to explore how those motions are impacting everything living there.”

NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water, Ecosystems, Land

All OPERA products are publicly accessible. The surface water and surface disturbance products are currently available through NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers, Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center and Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center, respectively.

Source: Nasa Gov

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Popocatepetl Volcano keeps on puffing

NASA-Led Project Tracking Changes to Water, Ecosystems, Land


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Revised September 16, 2023

Earthtopomaps Popocatépetl Volcano Keeps on Puffing – Earth

Earthtopomaps Popocatépetl Volcano Keeps on Puffing.

Popocatépetl is one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes. During the mountain’s current period of eruption, ongoing since 2005, volcanic emissions frequently billow from its summit crater.

In spring 2023, striking plumes were captured in images acquired by satellites and astronauts, both orbiting hundreds of kilometers above Earth’s surface.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image (above) on April 14, 2023.

Monitoring systems on that day detected water vapor, volcanic gases, and ash, according to Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention. (CENAPRED).

The volcano still puffed on May 2, 2023. When an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph (below). It shows a wider view of the region that includes Iztaccihuatl a dormant volcanic mountain. And the nearby town of Puebla. Mexico City (not pictured) is about 70 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Popocatépetl.

The source of the other plume, located between the two volcanoes, is unclear based on this photograph. 

Past research has suggested that satellite-detected hotspots on the volcano’s slopes could be due to fire. Also notice the green vegetated areas surrounding the peaks. Conifer forests and high-mountain prairies are an important part of the area’s ecosystem.

Around the time of these images, volcanic plumes rose as high as 7.3 kilometers (24,000 feet), according to the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center.

As of May 4, the volcanic alert level remained yellow (the middle level of a three-color scale).

NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Astronaut photograph ISS069-E-8304 was acquired on May 2, 2023, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using an 400 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 69 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed.

Earthtopomaps Popocatépetl Volcano Keeps on Puffing.

Earthtopomaps Popocatepetl Volcano Keeps 2037

The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab  to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Story by Kathryn Hansen.

Earth Google com Web

Earthtopomaps Popocatepetl Volcano Keeps
Earthtopomaps Popocatepetl Volcano

Download Free KML file for Google Earth.

Earthtopomaps Popocatépetl Volcano Keeps on Puffing.

These changes are in part because of climate change amplifying environmental disturbances.
Google Earth a more detailed understanding of earth’s land than ever before.
( Google Earth Pro ): So current datasets might classify a satellite image of a city as ‘built-up,’. But visit any city and you’ll see our world is far more dynamic. While you might see lots of buildings. You’ll also see trees or even snow on the ground from a recent storm.
Manage and restore land and monitor the effectiveness of those plans using alert systems to notify when unforeseen land changes are taking place.
Not only is our world more dynamic than individual land types it’s also constantly changing.
This means that not only is the land cover information in Dynamic World more detailed. Week or month than existing datasets. This level of detail allows scientists and policymakers to detect and quantify the extent of recent events anywhere on the globe such as snowstorms, wildfires or volcanic eruptions within days.

For example a map that analyzes crop harvests between particular dates.

Dynamic World is also useful for understanding longer-term trends of seasonal ecosystem change. As seen in the Okavango Delta. An area that attracts thirsty wildlife when it floods in July and August and then dries from September to October.
Whether it’s forests in the Amazon, agriculture in Asia, urban development in Europe or seasonal water resources in North America. With this information, people like scientists and policymakers can monitor and understand land and ecosystems so they can make more accurate predictions and effective plans to protect our planet in the future.

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Nasa Earth Observatory Image of the Day


Revised September 23, 2023