Data-Driven Planet #34 — A Flood Of New Satellite Data

With the new powerful Earth observation satellites continuously launching, new improved data products emerge on almost weekly basis. The rapid increase in quality and quantity of Earth data products lays a framework for high value data analytics in virtually every industry, and also in climate analysis.

“With this launch we are taking another step toward advancing the Copernicus programme, which is the most sophisticated Earth observation system in the world. And we are planning to add two more satellites to the constellation in the next months: with Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-3B.”
Jan Woerner, ESA Director General

Sentinel-2B satellite launched

The identical twin of operational Sentinel-2A satellite was launched on March 7, doubling the coverage of high-resolution optical imaging in the Sentinel-2 mission for the EU Copernicus environmental monitoring system. Besides imaging in high resolution and in different wavelengths, the key to assessing change in vegetation is to image the same place frequently.

Credits: ESA

The Sentinel-2 mission is based on a constellation of two satellites orbiting 180° apart, which along with their 290 km-wide swaths, allows Earth’s main land surfaces, large islands, inland and coastal waters to be covered every five days. This is a significant improvement on earlier missions in the probability of gaining a cloud-free look at a particular location, making it easier to monitor changes in plant health and growth.

First images from GOES-16 Lightning Mapper

The multifunctional GOES-16 satellite has delivered first images from its Geostationary Lightning Mapper. This kind of data has never before been available. It provides continuous data on lightning flashes in the Western Hemisphere, so forecasters know when a storm is forming, intensifying and becoming more dangerous.

This is one hour of GOES-16’s Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) lightning data from Feb. 14, when GLM acquired 1.8 million images of the Earth. Brighter colors indicate more lightning energy was recorded; color bar units are the calculated kilowatt-hours of total optical emissions from lightning. Credits: NOAA/NASA

Accurate tracking of lightning and thunderstorms over the oceans will support safe navigation for aviators and mariners, as it’s not visible for land-based radars and in some cases also for other satellites.

The Geostationary Lightning Mapper also detects in-cloud lightning, which occurs five or more minutes before potentially deadly cloud-to-ground strikes. This means more time to provide early warnings to those involved in outdoor activities in the storm areas.

Tracking Deforestation by Measuring the Distance to the Nearest Forest

Using satellite images, researchers established a method of calculating the distance between any point in the US and the nearest forested area. They tracked this data using information from 1992, and again in 2001. The average distance to the nearest forest increased by a third of a mile. This new measuring tool is being called the forest attrition distance. This metric not only takes the quantity of the forest into question, but the quality as well.

Credits: Yang & Mountrakis.

Interactive 3D Earth shows most polluted places in the world

AirVisual has created the real-time visualization of global air quality. The mesmerizing globe uses satellite imagery, US government meteorological data, and billions of data points daily from government air-quality monitoring stations in the US, Singapore, Canada, China, Japan, and elsewhere.

Credits: AirVisual

Other Earth data news

Thanks for reading! Are you using weather / climate / environmental data? In Planet OS we have built a open data catalog and APIs for discovering and accessing sensor data. I suggest to give a look, especially if you’re thinking to build your own data-driven application.

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