Earth Science Branch

The Earth Science Branch conducts research of the Earth as a system with a focus on lightning and precipitation processes, weather and climate variability, monitoring fluxes of heat and water from the surface, and associated data management and mining activities for scientific discovery and applications for societal benefit.

Presentation of Earth Observation Dashboard to NASA, JAXA, and ESA

Manil Maskey (ST11) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) presented the current status of Earth observation dashboard for COVID-19 and future plans to evolve dashboard for other themes to Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator Science Mission Directorate at NASA; Toni Tolker-Nielsen, Acting Director, Earth Observation Programmes at European Space Agency (ESA); and Koji Terada, Vice President and Director General, Space Technology Directorate at Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on 3/26/21.  Maskey, along with the technical leads from JAXA and ESA, developed a workplan for the next twelve months which includes a new dashboard for environmental change monitoring using complementary data products from all three agencies.  The principals approved the plan and agreed to continue the collaboration.

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Global Hydrology Resource Center (GHRC) Provides Overview to NASA Weather Focus Area Program Manager

The GHRC team provided an introductory overview and highlights to ail M. Skofronick-Jackson, NASA HQ Program Manager Weather Focus Area on 3/25/21.  This included denoting GHRC alignment with NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program, the Earth Science Data and Information Systems Project, and the Earth Observing System Data and Information System.

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Four areas of emphasis included a data overview focused on lightning and precipitation and hurricane field campaigns, technology overview focused on cloud computing, cloud native tools and services, science overview with a focus on the Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) mission, the Lightning team, and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR) Science Investigator-led Processing System (SIPS), and an overview on GHRC outreach efforts.  Future collaborations and open science plans were also presented.

Paper Published in Remote Sensing

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Timothy J. Lang (ST11) is a coauthor on a study called “Evaluating the Detection of Mesoscale Outflow Boundaries Using Scatterometer Winds at Different Spatial Resolutions,” which was recently published in the journal Remote Sensing. This study evaluated the performance of a recently developed technique that uses wind gradients measured by satellite scatterometers to detect outflows from oceanic storms. These outflows, often called cold pools, are important for modifying the marine boundary layer and air-sea interactions, and can help initiate and organize new storms. The technique has been previously validated against buoys and other independent datasets, but this new study led by Georgios Priftis, a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), assessed how scatterometer product spatial resolution (50, 25, and 7 km) impacted results. The 7-km resolution scatterometer data did the best job characterizing the full spatial extent of cold pool boundaries, as well as resolving fine-scale wind features along the boundary. In addition, the study found that using finer-resolution forecast model data, capable of resolving mesoscale storms, as background inputs to scatterometer wind retrieval algorithms helped improve the accuracy of wind retrievals near storm systems. The study provides crucial context for interpreting new global climatologies of oceanic cold pools observed by scatterometers.

Read the paper at https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/13/7/1334.

SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) Takes Part in NASA Earth Sciences Engagement with Nonprofit Organizations at InterAction Forum 2.1

On 3/23/21, NASA Earth Sciences Capacity Building Program, along with NASA Earth Sciences Data Systems and NASA Disasters programs, engaged with nonprofit organizations during the InterAction Forum 2.1 virtual event.  Eric Anderson and Amanda Markert from the SCO participated in a pre-recorded learning session on Harnessing Earth Observations for Making Programmatic Decisions and Responding to Flooding Events Around the World, presenting one of the case studies during this session—Case Study #1: Preparing for Floods in Bangladesh and Cambodia.  In addition, Dan Irwin provided a short live overview of SERVIR during the event. InterAction is the largest alliance of international nongovernmental organizations and partners in the United States that focuses on serving the world’s poor and vulnerable. The event provided an opportunity for exploring the needs of these organizations, and for participants to learn how they could use NASA data and applications during disasters, particularly to address flooding.

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IMPACT Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG) Management Office

The SNWG team has released updated tools to assist stakeholders in completing the SNWG Cycle 3 Assessment Phase and assisting leadership with tracking, reporting, and ushering a large number of remaining needs through completion of agency interviews, recording identified solutions, and partially automating final reports for each of the 123 needs submitted in 2020. HQ leadership continues to praise IMPACT’s SNWG Management Office team for leadership and coordination of these efforts, and recently expanded the scope of responsibilities in the assessment phase to include conducting cost estimation activities for a down-select of solutions identified for candidacy by HQ over the next several weeks. Additionally, the IMPACT SNWG Management Office is conducting a technical evaluation of the task plan for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s support of the SNWG Cycle 2 Implementation Phase, and is on-schedule for kick-off on 4/16/21. The SNWG team will work with program scientists and subject matter experts (SME) to develop high-fidelity cost estimations for a variety of solution types throughout the month of April. Cost estimation templates are in development now, as well as capturing lessons learned for further improvements to future SNWG cycles for which the SNWG Management Office will retain leadership responsibility.

USGC Eyes on Earth Podcast - Episode 45: Harmonized Landsat Sentinel (GLS) Data

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Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) scientist Brian Freitag (ST11) was a guest on the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) podcast “Eyes on Earth” where he discussed the cloud-based processing involved in the merger of the NASA/USGS Landsat and ESA Sentinel-2 satellite data in the HLS project. Some applications of the HLS dataset include looking at inundation events, wildfires, crop harvesting, and to monitor water quality. This publicly available dataset allows researchers to look at these events on a 2-3 day interval and at a high spatial resolution of 30 meters. Agriculture is a major driving force for producing the HLS data and scientists hope that this new dataset will allow for crop forecasting and forest fire analysis on a more frequent time scale than ever before. Cloud computing allows easier analysis of large datasets on the fly, as users don’t need to download terabytes of data onto their own machines. Listen to the podcast recording here.

NASA Appllied Sciences team (AST) Project highlighted in News Release on SERVIR-Amazonia Partnership

In the context of the ongoing collaboration between SERVIR-Amazonia and Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation – Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), a news item posted on 3/30/21 to Embrapa’s website highlights the technical coordination of AST PI Naiara Pinto of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for a projected two year activity.

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The work is part of a service being co-developed at the SERVIR-Amazon hub, in connection with her project ‘Unlocking the power of active remote sensing for ecosystem services modeling in the Amazon's forest-agriculture interface’. The co-development activity will use satellite information and geotechnology, along with field validation, to establish land cover patterns and generate pilot maps.  The improved land cover classifications and maps will show where key crops such cocoa, palm, açaí and citrus are being cultivated, for nine municipalities in the Brazilian state of Pará.

Kaylin Bugbee Invited to Present in the NASA Citizen Science Winter 2021 Seminar Series and Interviewed for NASA Earthdata "Data Chat"

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Kaylin Bugbee (ST11) presented “Data Management Plans to Enable Open Science” at the NASA Citizen Science Winter 2021 Seminar Series on 1/1/21. The seminar series is a professional learning series for those leading, hoping to lead, or wanting to learn more about the NASA Citizen Science practice. Ms. Bugbee’s presentation provided an overview of data management plans for citizen science projects. The presentation also highlighted the concept of open science and how data programs can play a pivotal role in accelerating the path to open science. A link to the presentation and the schedule for upcoming speakers for the seminar series is available at https://nasacitsci.gmri.org/.

IMPACT team member Bugbee was also interviewed by NASA's Earth Science Data and Information System Programming Managing Editor Josh Blumenfeld about her recent journal paper, “Advancing Open Science Through Innovative Data System Solutions: The Joint ESA-NASA Multi-Mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform (MAAP)'s Data Ecosystem” on open science with co-authors Rahul Ramachandran (ST11) and the Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program Executive, Kevin Murphy. She discussed how NASA ESDS is paving the way in the open science community through collaborative culture and advances in computation of Big Data. Bugbee  mentioned projects such as MAAP and the Algorithm Publication Tool, as examples of highly collaborative IMPACT-led projects. The article was posted on the NASA Earthdata webpage and a link to the article can be found here.

Presentations at International Ocean Vector Winds Science Team Meeting

Timothy J. Lang (ST11) contributed to multiple presentations on scatterometry at the International Ocean Vector Winds Science Team (IOVWST) Meeting, which was held online over 3 separate weeks in February and March this year. IOVWST is the premier annual meeting for all topics pertaining to measuring ocean winds from space. Lang was sole author on a presentation titled “Comparing Winds near Tropical Oceanic Precipitation Systems with and without Lightning,” and served as coauthor on three additional presentations: “Challenges and Solutions to Increasing Quantity and Diurnal Coverage of Scatterometer Ocean Vector Wind Measurements,” “The Diurnal Cycle of Tropical Oceanic Mesoscale Cold Pools,” and “Evaluating the Detection of Mesoscale Outflow Boundaries using Scatterometer Winds at Different Spatial Resolutions.” The research covered by these presentations related to multiple current/recent MSFC projects, such as the International Space Station Lightning Imaging Sensor (ISS LIS), as well as the 2020 MSFC Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) project with Brigham Young University (BYU) to develop a cubesat-based ocean winds mission that would provide global observations with hourly updates. Two of the presentations also discussed a novel method for detecting regions of evaporatively cooled air from storms over the ocean using scatterometers. This research included applying the method to ultra-high resolution scatterometer products as well as examining the daily cycle of these so-called cold pools, which are important for organizing and sustaining convective storms.

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SERVIR Network Shares Insights, Innovations, and Opportunities at SERVIR Annual Global Exchange (SAGE) 2021

Over 250 representatives from across the SERVIR network engaged virtually in the SERVIR Annual Global Exchange (SAGE 2021) 3/15-18/21. Karen St. Germain, NASA Earth Science Division Director, and Greg Collins, Deputy Assistant Administrator in the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, spoke on ‘Opportunities for EO and development: 2021 and beyond’ during the opening ceremonies. Lawrence Friedl, NASA Applied Sciences Program Director, served as moderator for the open session on the second day, which focused on milestones and accomplishments, innovations and strategic adaptations during 2020. Throughout the exchange, participants shared insights and lessons learned on current and past initiatives related to strategic engagement, sustainability, social inclusion, and continuous improvement. Highlights of the exchange included a series of ‘service demo’ videos, during which presenters from across the network gave overviews of key services with virtual demonstrations of tools and applications; and a session devoted to progress and cross-cutting collaborations among the SERVIR Applied Sciences Team projects.

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MFSC ST11 Satellite Hail Retrievals Presented at the European Hail Workshop

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Sarah Bang (ST11) presented “Satellite-borne Passive-Microwave Hail Retrieval and Climatology” at the European Hail Workshop, held virtually hosted at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, Germany 3/15-19/21. The work by Bang and fellow Disasters team member Daniel Cecil (ST11) uses satellite-borne passive-microwave radiometer data from TRMM TMI, GPM GMI, Aqua AMSR-E and GCOM-W1 AMSR2 to estimate the probability of severe hail for a given storm, and then compile those estimates throughout the orbit to construct global or near-global climatologies of severe hail.

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SPoRT Participates in 2nd Annual SWOT Early Adopter Program Virtual Hackathon

From 3/8/21 to 3/11/21, the Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) project participated in the second annual Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Early Adopter virtual hackathon. The hackathon, sponsored by the SWOT Applications Working Group, engaged SWOT Early Adopters comprising research groups in North America, Europe, and Asia, to help them solve technical issues encountered in their research projects to better prepare for the use of SWOT data ahead of the 2022 mission launch. MSFC NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) scientist Nicholas Elmer participated in the hackathon as a presenter and hacker. Elmer shared SPoRT research advancements in using SWOT data for improved hydrologic model calibration and data assimilation, and assisted other groups with proxy SWOT data creation and application during one-on-one hack sessions. As an Early Adopter, SPoRT is demonstrating SWOT hydrology applications for the NOAA National Water Model and the SPoRT Land Information System (SPoRT-LIS) to better represent runoff and streamflow characteristics.

IMPACT Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG) Project Office

The IMPACT SNWG Project Office is engaged in three main efforts. The first is formalizing a contractual mechanism and negotiating a Task Plan and budget for Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) support of the SNWG Cycle 2 Implementation Phase. The SNWG Project Office will provide management and oversight of JPL’s effort to develop and release surface water extent, optical surface disturbance, and surface displacement product groups to answer multiple US agency needs identified in SNWG Cycle 2. Kick-off of this contractual effort is scheduled for 4/16/21.

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The second main effort is supporting the ongoing SNWG Cycle 3 Assessment Phase. The SNWG team has been automating cumbersome manual steps for progress tracking and creating decision trees and automated reports, all while developing new tools, databases, and documenting concepts to improve future Cycles. Already, leadership has noted the benefit of IMPACT SNWG’s involvement and has approved an increasing role in automation activities to support on-time selection of Need Solutions and submission of a well-estimated Cycle 3 budget to Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Upcoming Cycle 3 Assessment Phase activities include continued support of Agency Interviews, as well as IMPACT’s responsibility for working with SNWG Program Scientists in a major effort to develop reliable cost estimations for a HQ down-select of proposed agency Need Solutions by the end of April 2021. The third main effort is the formalization of the project office: establishing an approved budget with HQ, creating project documentation, and bringing on support staff as necessary. Regarding staffing, the IMPACT SNWG Project Office recently welcomed a Project Scientist (Andrew Molthan, Ph.D./ST11), a new Budget Analyst (Beth Ewing/RS30), and part-time scheduling assistance (Angel Lopez), while formalizing a contract specialist role (David Hood/Science Projects Branch for Cycle 2) and planning for future support in Systems Engineering, Project Coordination, Procurement, and Science Data Analysis.

New SERVIR Journal Publication Shows Paths Forward for Flood Early Action

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Disconnects between forecasters and decision-makers worldwide can often result in greater flood impacts. To stem those impacts, the humanitarian and Earth science communities have begun to come together to develop programs for anticipatory action or forecast-based early action (FbA). Still, Earth observation (EO) scientists have not been able to transition the full breadth and capability of EO and related forecasts to flood managers, especially before disasters strike. In a new paper, experts from the SERVIR’s Science Coordination Office, the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), NASA Headquarters, Columbia University IRI, and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre provide suggestions to help ensure satellite data and forecasts are used to their full potential. The paper consolidates the forecast lead times required for some 45 flood early actions and presents calls to action to connect EO to different FbA phases, particularly in the design and evaluation phases. The article, led by UAH graduate student Claire Nauman with advising from Eric Anderson and Amanda Markert, and published in the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, shines light on opportunities for the Earth observations community to better support FbA efforts for flood management. https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JRS.15.032002

Special Issue with 40-Papers Published on "Greenhouse Gases, Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and Aerosol Pollution in South/Southeast Asia - Drivers, States, and Impacts"

Krishna Vadrevu (ST11) led a special issue in collaboration with Toshimasa Ohara (NIES, Japan) in the Environmental Pollution journal that has an impact factor of 6.8. Due to the rapid economic growth and high population pressure, the air quality in South/Southeast Asian countries has worsened with an increase in Greenhouse gases (GHGs), Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP), and aerosol emissions. Important sources of these emissions in the region include coal burning, exhaust from vehicle engines, industrial sources and biomass burning. The special issue focused on the pollution problem based on the Drivers/Pressures, States, Impacts and Response (DPSIR) framework, which attracted wide attention in the region. More than 90-manuscripts were submitted to the special issue, of which 40-papers were finally published with fifteen papers on measurements and modeling, ten on drivers, nine on impacts and six articles on mitigation and control. The authors are mainly from regional countries. The special issue is one of the outputs from meetings and workshops organized in Asia as part of the NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program funded South/Southeast Asia Research Initiative (SARI) that Vadrevu is leading.

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GOES-17 GLM Achieves Full Validation Level

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William Koshak (ST11) successfully completed the Peer Stakeholders – Product Validation Review (PS-PVR) on 2/24/21 for achieving the Full Validation level of the GOES-17 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM-17). The 67 slide PS-PVR package provided details on GLM-17 detection efficiency, false alarm rate, location/time accuracy, and maximum data processing speed. These performance results, which were determined from years of detailed validation analyses against both ground- and space- based reference lightning data, were shown to meet mission requirement specifications. The PS-PVR review panel unanimously voted to certify GLM-17 at the Full Validation level, a major milestone.

Meeting and Demo to the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA HQ on the Multi-Mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform (MAAP)

Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) members Kaylin Bugbee (ST11), Aaron Kaulfus (ST11) and Aimee Barciauskas (Development Seed) met with ESA and HQ representatives virtually to demonstrate the latest release of the MAAP data system and to discuss the next phase of the MAAP.  MSFC’s IMPACT leads the project which establishes a collaboration framework between ESA and NASA to share data, science algorithms, and compute resources in order to foster and accelerate scientific research conducted by NASA and ESA scientists.

The sample visualization to the right was created on the MAAP of DEM heights from the ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3A Land and Vegetation Height dataset.

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Planning of Summer School on High-Performance and Disruptive Computing in Remote Sensing (HDCRS)

Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) in collaboration with IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) has completed planning of Summer School on High-Performance and Disruptive Computing in Remote Sensing (HDCRS).  This school will provide a venue to network with students and young professionals, as well as senior researchers and professors who are world-renowned leaders in the field of remote sensing and work on interdisciplinary research with high-performance and distributed computing, disruptive computing and parallel programming models with specialized hardware. IEEE will provide travel support for student participation in the school which will be held during 5/31-6/3/21.  Manil Maskey, IEEE GRSS Earth Science Informatics Technical Chair, and IMPACT team members: Iksha Gurung, Muthukumaran Ramasubramanian, Shubhankar Gahlot, and Drew Bollinger will develop a day long hands-on machine learning tutorial for the school.  Industry partners, Amazon Web Services and NVIDIA, have endorsed the school and will provide resources for hands-on activity during the school.

Hydro-SAR Training in Nepal

Lori Schultz, Andrew Molthan, Jordan Bell (ST11) and Ronan Lucey (UAH) collaborated with a SERVIR Applied Sciences Team PI Franz Meyer (University of Alaska Fairbanks) Co-I’s from GSFC, along with the SERVIR Science Coordination Office to conduct a weeklong training session on the use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data for surface water extent monitoring using a web-based cloud processing system.  This training, during the week of January 25th, was presented to members of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) located in Kathmandu, Nepal as well as representatives from the Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services, the Institute of Water Modeling, and Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh and the National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology in Bhutan.  Twenty-three participants (17 men and 6 women) were introduced to HydroSAR algorithms and use of SAR for flood extent and flood depth mapping.

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Gandaki River Sentinel-1 Imagery
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The final step in the training exercise will be held in the week of February 15th where representatives from each team will demonstrate work accomplished on case studies relevant to each team’s region of interest to the science team.  These case studies not only serve as a training tool for the participants but will generate valuable discussion and feedback for both the users and the developers alike. Lessons learned will provide valuable input to the research team and developers and then become the basis for future training opportunities for this user community.  The suite takes advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud processing for the monitoring of high-water events across the region.

Paper Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Air Quality Over India Published in Sustainable Cities and Society Journal

Pawan Gupta (ST11/USRA) and Falguni Patadia (ST11/USRA) co-authored a paper titled “Surface and satellite observations of air pollution in India during COVID-19 lockdown: Implication to air quality”, that was recently published in Sustainable Cities and Society Journal. The study uses multiple satellite and ground data to analyze criteria air pollutants over both individual Indian cities and the entire Indian sub-continent region.

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A nationwide lockdown was imposed in India during March-May 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This interrupted several anthropogenic emission sources and reduced mobility nationwide and created a temporary air quality improvement. The study found a significant reduction in surface measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) (46–61 %) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) (42–60 %) during the lockdown period that are also corroborated by the reduction in satellite observed aerosol optical depth (AOD) (3–56 %) and tropospheric NO2 column density (25–50 %) data over multiple cities. Other species, namely coarse particulate matter (PM10) (24–62 %), ozone (22–56 %) also showed a substantial reduction. This temporary air quality improvement underpinned the importance of reducing emissions from other sectors along with transportation and industry. The observed improvement in Air Quality Index (25-56%) provides a benchmark for air quality improvements achievable through air quality management and policy changes.

SPoRT Graduate Student Holley Kenward Receives Best Student Poster Award

SPoRT graduate student Holley Kenward (ST11) received the Best Student Poster Presentation award at the Fourth Symposium on Tropical Meteorology and Tropical Cyclones at the 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting. Kenward, who is a UAH graduate student advised by SPoRT research associate Erika Duran, presented her research on the tropical cyclone diurnal cycle. Her results indicate that hurricanes tend to be smaller overnight than they are during the day and that the air nearest the ocean surface is moister during the day than at night. These results have potentially important implications for hurricane intensity and rainfall forecasting. Ms. Kenward is now conducting trajectory analyses in simulated hurricanes to determine how the diurnal cycle affects a hurricane’s interaction with its environment.

The Trillion Pixel Challenge

Rahul Ramachandran (ST11) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) is assisting with the coordination of The Trillion-Pixel Challenge planned for 4/21-22/21 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The event will focus on a way forward in geospatial artificial intelligence (GeoAI) and seek to imagine and shape how the scientific community can address the grand challenges in GeoAI. This invitation-only workshop allows NASA to present results from its investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, track breakthroughs and help engage with potential partners.

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LED Panel Discussion at the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) - Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Bilateral Meeting

Manil Maskey (ST11) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) presented the COVID-19 Earth observation dashboard and led the discussion on the future roles of dashboards during the CEOS-GEO bilateral meeting (2/2/2021-2/3/2021). Each year, this bilateral meeting discusses coordination and complementarity initiatives between CEOS and GEO on the CEOS Work Plan and the GEO Work Program. In addition to practical outcomes from the meeting, the direct involvement of the CEOS Chair, SIT Chair, and GEO Secretariat Director invites top level perspectives on matters of shared interest and overarching priority. This year, open science and its role as an accelerator for societal benefit and decision support features prominently in the larger context for both, CEOS and GEO.  Dashboard framework was identified as one of the building blocks for advancing open science within Earth science.

Participation in the 2nd NOAA Workshop on Leveraging AI in Environmental Sciences

Manil Maskey (ST11) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) presented NASA Earth Science Division’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) activities at the 2nd NOAA AI workshop (2/11/2021). Maskey also co-led a panel discussion on “AI/ML for Environmental Data, Image, and Signal Processing” at the same workshop (2/18/2021).

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The workshop provides a venue for AI experts and program managers from industry, academia, and government working with environmental data and problems to showcase their AI projects and discuss potential collaborations.  Maskey networked with several participants with common interests in solving problems related to generating and sharing AI-ready environmental data to accelerate and scale AI applications.

SERVIR SCO Supports Applied Sciences Team Training to SERVIR-West Africa Stakeholders

In the context of his ongoing SERVIR Applied Sciences Team project on “Connecting West Africa users to cutting-edge resources” for sub-seasonal climate forecasts, Principal Investigator Shrad Shukla of the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) and collaborators provided a 4-part webinar to stakeholders from across the SERVIR-West Africa network between 2/8/21 and 2/18/21. In support of seasonal agro-climatic forecasts being led by the Agrometeorology, Hydrology and Meteorology (AGRHYMET) Regional Center, the SERVIR-West Africa consortium lead, the webinar focused on how Earth observation data and model outputs can be integrated into the region’s forecasts. The virtual training had close to 40 participants from across West Africa and was also supported by personnel from the SERVIR Science Coordination Office at NASA MSFC.

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NASA Health and Air Quality Applied Science Team (HAQAST)

Pawan Gupta (P.I., USRA) has been selected as NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Science Team member for 2021-2025. The team also includes Sundar Christopher and Kel Markert (UAH) and Robert Levy (GSFC). The HAQAST team uses NASA satellite data to help solve real-world public health and air quality problems while working closely with end-users and stakeholder agencies in the U.S. and worldwide. The funded project entitled ‘Capacity Building and Integrating NASA Satellite and Model data into the U.S. State Department’s Decision Support System.’ The selected team will work with the U.S. Department of States (DoS) and its partners to integrated NASA satellite observations and model outputs into their decision-support system. The team proposes explicitly to develop the City Air quality foREcasting and analysis System (CARES). The innovation of CARES is the application of a Machine Learning Model Output Statistics (ML-MOS) framework to statistically fine-tune on a point-by-point basis, thus significantly improving the GEOS outputs for individual U.S. Department of State post locations. The project team will also build technical capacity through end-user engagement activities.

SERVIR SCO Invited to Present on Gender and Social Inclusion Activities to Engineering Management Council

SERVIR, in partnership with the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, was invited to present to Katherine Van Hooser and the MSFC Engineering Management Council (EMC) on 2/9/21. The title of the presentation was “SERVIR Gender and Social Inclusion Strategies in Action.” Emily Adams and Tony Kim of the SERVIR SCO gave the presentation, which focused on the activities SERVIR has been conducting to address building not just diverse but inclusive spaces, and the unconscious biases that we all have. Gender and social inequalities in our global network were discussed, as well as how SERVIR uses Earth Observation data to address gendered development challenges. Areas of potential collaboration between EMC and SERVIR were also highlighted, including supporting the Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design, Mathematics) camps that SERVIR participates in. While this presentation was designed as informational, it also conveyed strong ties to the NASA Unity Campaign and the recent adoption of inclusion as a core value.

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Technical Exchange with NOAA on Adopting NASA's Common Metadata Repository (CMR) Software

NASA’s CMR technical team and Rahul Ramachandran (ST11) met with NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service representatives on 2/17/21 to assist with their deployment and adoption of NASA’s CMR software. The CMR software provides a comprehensive stack to manage metadata and enable efficient searches. Ramachandran is a co-leader in the partnership with NOAA to collaborate on joint cloud computing activities and share lessons learned.

SERVIR SCO Provides Training Webinar on Use of Google Earth Engine

On 1/27/21, at the request of the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA), SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) personnel provided a training in the use of Google Earth Engine (GEE) to representatives of two organizations in Guatemala (ACOFOP--Association of Forest Communities in Peten and CUNOC--a regional university in Guatemala), and to other representatives from across Central America. The training had approximately 700 participants. The training webinar was held in the context of the 2019 Joint Statement between the NASA Earth Science Division (ESD) and SICA, which outlines areas for collaboration in Earth science research and applications.

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Working Group Meetings Supporting SMD Open Science Capabilities

Kaylin Bugbee (ST11) and Mark Parsons (University of Alabama in Huntsville) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) hosted the first working group meeting to support the development of an SMD science data catalog and to create a SMD standards group to assist in identifying standards. The working group consists of members from five of the SMD divisions, who shared introductory information about data practices within each division. The working group is essential to reaching the key project outcomes of expanded collaboration, innovation and interoperability across the SMD divisions.

Nature Scientific Reports on COVID Related Pollution in India

Violin plot depicting NO2 variations for 41 cities in India.
Violin plot depicting NO2 variations for 41 cities in India.

Krishna Vadrevu (Earth Science Branch) published a paper in Nature Scientific Reports on COVID related pollution in India. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-72271-5.  In early 2020, the COVID-19 virus started to spread rapidly across the globe into most countries, including India, where the first case was reported on 1/30/20. Since then, COVID has resulted in the deaths of ~148439 people to date. To curb the spread of COVID, earlier stringent lockdown measures were in effect. With the COVID-19 pandemic and a lockdown situation in India, a reduction in air pollution was expected as the main source of pollutants is largely human activities. However, the specific amount of pollution decrease in India is not well-documented, hence this study’s focus. Since cities are hotspots of air pollution, we focused on 41 cities based on their population size.

We analyzed how air pollution varied during the lockdown period compared to the previous year and the pre-lockdown period. We specifically used TROPOMI NO2 data and MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) over 41 cities to characterize the pollution. Our results suggested a 13% NO2 reduction during the lockdown (3/25–5/3/20) compared to the pre‑lockdown (1/1–3/24/20) period. Also, a 19% reduction in NO2 was observed during the 2020‑lockdown compared to the same period during 2019. The study highlights the top cities where NO2 including some drivers including some robust time series analysis. Results also highlight spatial differences in NO2 pollution due to city characteristics based on location and population. The results highlight the impact of the human footprint on India’s air pollution levels during COVID-19 captured by the remote sensing datasets.

Machine Learning/Earth Science Collaboration Addresses the Challenge of Image Search

Two open source tools, the NASA-GIBS Imagery Downloader and the Self Supervised Learner, have been released to GitHub. These software packages were developed as part of an ongoing engagement between the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) and the Frontier Development Lab (FDL) to open up one of the NASA Earth science challenges to artificial intelligence researchers across the world. The NASA-GIBS Imagery Downloader and the Self Supervised Learner are products of this new approach.

Public Provisional Release of the Harmonized LandSat Sentinel-2 (HLS) L30 Data Product

The Landsat 8 component of the HLS data products, L30, was released publicly by the Land Processes (LP) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) on 1/20/21. The counterpart Sentinel-2 data product, S30, was released in early October 2020. In addition, image layers from these two data products were publicly released in the NASA Worldview client on 1/25/21. The Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT), responsible for production of HLS data products, coordinated with these external collaborators to ensure everything was in place for the public provisional release of L30. The HLS data products generated by IMPACT are the first major outcome out of the Satellite Needs Working Group and are expected to have significant implications on land surface monitoring science applications.

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IMPACT Team Presentations

Aaron Kaulfus (ST11) of the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program and Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) presented an overview of the CSDA program, its commercial data partners and current data holdings, and the data services under development by the CSDA team at MSFC to support the discovery and access of commercial satellite data for end user scientists. As part of the presentation, Kaulfus participated in an overview and discussion session on 1/13/21.

Aaron Kaulfus also convened two virtual sessions on 1/14/21 at the AMS Annual Meeting entitled “Meeting Data Stewardship Needs for Heterogeneous Earth and Atmospheric Science Data” providing a for organizations developing data stewardship policies and infrastructure to present their needs, challenges, tools, and best practices developed to support their respective data use communities.

Brian Freitag (ST11) of IMPACT presented a brown bag seminar as part of the NASA ESDS brown bag seminar series at NASA HQ on January 21. The presentation included a high level overview of the Harmonized LandSat Sentinel-2 (HLS) project, IMPACT’s role in delivering two HLS data products, the cloud infrastructure developed by IMPACT for data production, and science applications of the datasets.  Freitag also shared lessons learned in executing this collaborative project. The brown bag was attended by several NASA HQ personnel including the Earth Science Division leadership team.

SPoRT Research Results Reported in Inside Science: "Satellite Imagery Boosts Scientists' Understanding of Thundersnow"

Emily Berndt (ST11) and Sebastian Harkema (UAH/SPoRT) were recently interviewed by Inside Science’s Catherine Meyers about his Ph.D. research of lightning in snowfall and results that were presented at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting. As a graduate student supported by the Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center and NASA’s FINNEST program Harkema has examined winter storms that produce lightning with the NASA/NOAA GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper and Advanced Baseline Imager. The article highlights his masters’ work that lightning characteristics in winter storms (thundersnow) tend to be larger and longer-lasting compared to lightning in thunderstorms and thundersnow is well correlated with storms that produce a lot of snowfall but is spatially separated from the heaviest snowfall rates.

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In addition, the article highlights recent research results in which the NASA/NOAA GOES-16 satellite imagery suggests that ice particles develop at the cloud top and become smaller prior to the development of thundersnow. Prior to thundersnow initiation, and when examining multispectral imagery, it was found that there were patterns in the coloration in the imagery which are used to infer cloud characteristics such as cloud-top temperature, phase, and size. Few studies have examined the trends in satellite imagery leading up to lightning in winter storms even though winter storms often cause tremendous disruption to societal and economic activities.  These results suggest that satellite imagery can be associated with the physical process that lead to thundersnow. The article includes comments from other prominent researchers such as Patrick Market, a thundersnow researcher at the University of Missouri in Columbia, who noted “There’s a pure science aspect of this work, about understanding the microphysics inside a cloud, but there is also the applied aspect of improving the forecast. It’s ringing all the bells.” Harkema’s work aligns with the SPoRT mission to transition NASA research and capabilities to stakeholders.  These new insights will help transform conceptual models and provide insight into ways to analyze next generation NASA/NOAA observations to improve forecast skill, translating science to operational decisions and societal benefit.

SERVIR-Amazonia Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Signed

On 1/25/21, in the framework of SERVIR-Amazonia, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Fundación EcoCiencia signed a MOU with the Ministry of Agriculture of Ecuador. Signed by Ecuador’s Minister of the Environment, the MOU is to support the country’s efforts to map and assess soil degradation using Earth observation data and geospatial technologies, and to inform the development of strategies towards the conservation and recuperation of this resource. Implemented by a consortium led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the SERVIR-Amazonia hub is located in Colombia.  Fundación EcoCiencia in Ecuador is a hub consortium partner, along with the Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification (IMAFLORA) in Brazil, Conservación Amazónica (ACCA) in Peru, and the U.S.-based Spatial Informatics Group (SIG).

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Key Technology Proposal Selected to Advance Lightning Mission Concept

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Lightning research and instrument development are a core area for Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) that has culminated in several successful satellite missions to observe thunderstorms. An innovative new mission concept—CubeSpark—being formulated by MSFC and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will utilize a constellation of CubeSats to study lightning and thunderstorms on a global scale like never before. MSFC scientists, Patrick Gatlin (ST11) in collaboration with Timothy Lang (ST11), were involved in a proposal led by scientists at LANL that was recently selected by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office to advance the CubeSpark concept by miniaturizing a key payload. This technology development will complement a project recently funded through MSFC’s Center Innovation Fund to design a new lightning imager for CubeSpark.

NASA Earth Science Data Systems 2020 Highlights Features the IMPACT Team

NASA’s Earth Science Data System (ESDS) Program recognizes that new strategies are required in order to meet the data needs of the research community in this modern age. ESDS also strives to encourage the use of Earth observation data by a broader user community. The Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) program addresses these data needs through its focus on improving data acquisition, management, analysis, and exchange. IMPACT supports the ESDS Program mission with multiple projects in three focus areas. Some of the projects are:

Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG) is comprised of a team which serves as the data liaison between the U.S. Group on Earth Observations SNWG and ESDIS. Using the biennial surveys of participating agencies conducted by SNWG to assess their needs for U.S. government Earth observing satellite applications, the team creates a profile of agency needs and develops mappings to data that meet those needs.

Data Curation for Discovery (DCD) designs and implements a systematic plan to assist other agencies in incorporating NASA Earth observation data into their workflows. The DCD team improves the discoverability of NASA Earth science data and other curated Earth observation data in trusted catalogs and platforms.

Analysis and Review of CMR (ARC) focuses on improving the discoverability, accessibility and usability of NASA’s Earth science data holdings by ensuring all NASA collection and granule level metadata records in NASA’s Common Metadata Repository (CMR) meet a minimum standard of quality. The ARC team reviews the metadata for these collections, identifies opportunities for improvement in the records, works with the data providers, develops methods to automate the quality evaluation checks, and develops processes to minimize issues in the future.

Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) develops systematic approaches to airborne data management and stewardship. The ADMG develops best practices for airborne data management and provides a knowledge base for airborne campaigns, data centers, managers, scientists and users.

The Algorithm Publication Tool (APT) enables open, reproducible science by helping scientists write standardized, high-quality Algorithm Theoretical Basis Documents (ATBDs) collaboratively via a single end-to-end authoring tool. The APT establishes and implements a standardized ATBD governance process and provides a free and open portal to ensure all ATBDs are discoverable and accessible to users.

Public-Private Open Data Partnership (OpenData). The goal of this effort is to:

  • demonstrate the potential of cloud computing in applying algorithms to the data to enable processing and analytics at scale;
  • improve over the existing methods of data search and minimize reliance on internal search tools; and
  • explore partnerships in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to utilize these techniques in novel applications to address existing data discovery, access and use challenges.
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Paper on Geophysical Retrievals from the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer Published

Timothy J. Lang (ST11) is a co-author on a paper, titled “Dual-Polarization Deconvolution and Geophysical Retrievals from the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer during OLYMPEX/RADEX,” that was recently accepted in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. The study focuses on using the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) instrument to retrieve high-resolution swaths of cloud liquid water path, atmospheric water vapor, and ocean surface wind speed during the Olympic Mountains Experiment/Radar Definition Experiment (OLYMPEX/RADEX) that occurred in northwest Washington state in late 2015. The research, led by AMPR team members Corey Amiot of the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Sayak Biswas of The Aerospace Corporation, demonstrated the ability of AMPR’s dual-polarimetric measurements to make accurate retrievals of these important atmospheric parameters. Lessons learned from this research are also being used in AMPR science analyses from the Cloud, Aerosol, and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment (CAMP2Ex, 2019) and the Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS, 2020) campaigns. This paper thus marks the culmination of AMPR’s dual-polarimetric technology upgrade that occurred prior to 2011, and paves the way for geophysical retrievals to become a routine science product provided by the AMPR airborne instrument.

Read the paper at https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/atot/aop/JTECH-D-19-0218.1/JTECH-D-19-0218.1.xml.

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Data Science Challenge Accepted for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Emeerging Techniques in Computational Intelligence (ICETCI) 2021

A data science challenge proposal submitted by Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team’s (IMPACT) Manil Maskey (ST11) was accepted by the IEEE ICETCI 2021. The challenge seeks artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to detect flood extents from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images.  Iksha Gurung of the IMPACT team led the generation of training data for the challenge in close collaboration with the MSFC Disasters Team and the University of Alabama Earth System Science Center.  Over the summer, students across USA and Europe worked together with domain experts to create and curate the flood extents on SAR dataset. The IMPACT team anticipates several submissions to this challenge allowing novel ways to detect flood extents that could be used for real time decision making.

SERVIR Land Cover Monitoring Activities Highlighted During Recent Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI) Webinar

SERVIR’s activities in land cover monitoring were recently highlighted at a webinar organized by the Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI), on 12/15/20. The webinar covered the high spatial resolution Planet and AirBus imagery licenses being provided by the Government of Norway for forest monitoring (see: https://www.planet.com/nicfi/). On behalf of SERVIR, the Science Coordination Office (SCO)’s Emil Cherrington gave a short presentation highlighting how the SERVIR-West Africa consortium has already started exploring the use of the Planet imagery in services related to monitoring of deforestation and forest degradation from charcoal production and from artisanal gold mining in Ghana. Cherrington also highlighted the recent SERVIR-West Africa capacity building webinar on the new data offerings, which was held in late November.

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TROPICS Applications Quarterly Meeting

Emily Berndt (ST11) the Deputy Program Applications lead for the Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) Mission and Erika Duran (UAH) hosted a quarterly TROPICS Applications meeting on 12/11/20 to foster interaction between the community of end users and the science team.  The full mission, composed of six smallsats, is planned to launch in early 2022 but the science team gained approved to launch the single qualification unit in June 2021 as a “pathfinder” mission.  During the meeting the PI, Bill Blackwell (MIT LL), gave a mission status update.  This update was integral to the community of end users who recommended the “pathfinder” mission during the February 2020 Applications Workshop as an important step to preparing to use the mission in applied research and operations.  In addition, Juan Crespo (JPL) gave a presentation on NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission and potential synergies with TROPICS.  Both missions have a strong emphasis on tropical cyclone research and applications and their operations will overlap.  The collaboration between SPoRT and Applied Sciences to host TROPICS Applications quarterly meetings connects stakeholders to the science team to inform users and ready them [before launch] to use the data, thus enabling rapid ingest of observations quickly after launch.

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Proposal Submitted to NOAA Selected for Funding

Kevin Fuell (UAH at SPoRT) was awarded a proposal submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Proving Ground and Risk Reduction (PGRR) Program titled “Micro-lesson Training Series for JPSS Snow, Ice, and Soil Moisture Products.”  The proposal is inclusive of members of the MSFC SPoRT team, Emily Berndt (NASA/SPoRT), Anita LeRoy (UAH), and Frank LaFontaine (Jacobs).  The goals of this proposal are to increase the awareness within both the operational and research communities of the existing NASA/NOAA JPSS snow and ice products derived from infrared and microwave sensors (VIIRS, ATMS, AMSR2), as well as soil moisture (AMSR2) and to increase utilization of these products in data sparse regions for daily operational analysis and research modeling efforts.  Products such as snow cover and SWE have a legacy from instruments like NASA/MODIS and AMSR-E and the JPSS capabilities are a next-generation version of these early accomplishments.  This proposal work includes the development of a training series using the ‘micro-lesson’ format with tailored sections for operations and research audiences.  User and researcher on-the-job support are planned to occur in the form of ‘Quick Guides’ which allow an easy reference of the product’s strengths, weaknesses, and interpretations, as were covered in detail by the micro-lessons.  Both of these training formats were developed by NASA/SPoRT and used extensively within training activities for user preparations for JPSS and GOES-R series satellites and their use has been adopted by several international satellite agencies such as Europe’s EUMeTrain and Japan’s JMA. The development of this training series will allow the team to engage, train, and assess various user groups in order to fill gaps in current product understanding and to discover possible derivatives where JPSS product developers may further enhance operational and research utility.  The proposal team will engage NASA and NOAA research groups conducting land surface modeling work to understand how their needs different from the operational community and how they can also be served by this training series.  The inclusion of JPSS snow, sea ice, and soil moisture products in modeling efforts is particularly important to NASA researchers developing the Land Information System (LIS) as well as to the NOAA National Water Center (NWC) in the development of strategies for the National Water Model (NWM).

SERVIR Applied Sciences Team Hydrologic Model Informs Ugana Water Management Decisions

Over the past several years, SERVIR has built the capacity of partners in East Africa to use satellite data in a hydrologic model, the Ensemble Framework for Flash Flood Forecasting (EF5), as part of the 2015 SERVIR Applied Sciences Team project led by Yang Hong (University of Oklahoma, Norman).  The EF5 model is now being actively used in Uganda to plan water supply intakes in towns that have no stream gauges. In December, Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment reported using SERVIR-E&SA’s model for regional streamflow monitoring and forecasting to perform hydrological assessments in the country’s Kyoga Basin. These rivers lack on-site gauging stations, making Earth observations critical for designing water supply systems and other water management engineering projects.

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SPoRT 2020 Year in Review Blog Post

The Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center recently published their 2020 Year in Review Blog Post (https://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/sport/blog/articles/2021/01/20210105-SPoRT-Year-In-Review-2020/) This blog post provides a high level overview of the accomplishments and successes achieved by the entire SPoRT Team, civil servants, contractors and graduate students. This blog post is also a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team, despite working away from one another for nearly the entire year.

Proposal Selected for Funding

Emily Berndt (ST11) was awarded a proposal submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Proving Ground and Risk Reduction (PGRR) Program titled “Spatially and Temporally Enhanced NUCAPS Sounding Products for Emerging Applications.”  The proposal is inclusive of members of the MSFC Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) team Erika Duran (UAH), Kevin Fuell (UAH), Jon Case (ENSCO), Kris White (NOAA NWS), and Frank LaFontaine (Jacobs) and continues a collaboration with JPL scientists. This work continues previously applied-research projects to develop innovative capabilities and products from NASA/NOAA satellite sounding observations to support operational short-term forecasting challenges related to storm and hurricane intensity, severe weather, and fire weather.  Over the three year project the team will utilize trajectory modeling and satellite soundings from multiple NASA/NOAA platforms to increase the spatial coverage and time dimension of these observations by advancing them forward in time. The team will validate the resulting products, conduct applied research related to severe weather and hurricanes, and experimentally transition the capabilities to SPoRT stakeholders for use in operations. The project will advance the state of the science through innovative capabilities and analysis and maximize the societal benefit of joint NASA/NOAA investments through engaging with stakeholders.

IMPACT Selected for Expanded Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG) Role

The IMPACT project has been selected by the Earth Science Data System program at NASA Headquarters for a significantly expanded role for the SNWG.  Current role is being expanded to manage the implementation of new data products and expand data system capabilities to meet the needs of SNWG requests. IMPACT will be responsible for managing an additional effort of over $20 million.

NASA SPoRT Wildfire Work Used by Jack Kaye for Briefing on Capitol Hill

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On 12/14/20, Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Team members were notified that work they had published and contributed to the science results portal was going to be incorporated into a Capitol Hill briefing on NASA research related to wildfire. Of particular interest was the Evaporative Stress Index work led by  Christopher Hain (ST11), which uses satellite remote sensing to identify when vegetation is stressed due to water conservation efforts by the vegetation because of a lack of water. An additional focus was the lightning-initiated wildfire identification efforts to improve fire identification and response. This work is led by Christopher Schultz (ST11), and has gone though and classified lightning frequency, polarity, rainfall rates, and total rainfall at the time of wildfire ignition to determine the distribution of wildfire holdover events (where smoldering occurs for several days before fire breaks out)  which can surprise wildfire fighting operations.  All three content pieces were picked up in NASA’s Science Results Portal:

https://esdresearch.nasa.gov/result/spatial-temporal-and-electrical-characteristics-lightning-reported-lightning-initiated

https://esdresearch.nasa.gov/result/flash-characteristics-and-precipitation-metrics-western-us-lightning-initiated-wildfires-2017

SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) Hosts Flood Mapping Virtual Training to Support Critical Needs in South and Southeast Asia

Floods in Cambodia killed 42 people and affected over 175,000 families in October 2020. This challenge brought UN World Food Programme (WFP) Cambodia together with SERVIR to codevelop the new Hydrologic Remote Sensing Analysis for Floods (HYDRAFloods) service that improves the frequency and resolution of flood map updates. To empower WFP and SERVIR hubs to use this service, SERVIR hosted a HYDRAFloods virtual training, 11/3-12/3/20. The virtual training detailed various techniques of surface water mapping and the step-by-step methodologies for accessing, preprocessing, and producing data fusion surface water maps. Kurt Burja, Programme Policy Officer for WFP Cambodia, said “HYDRAFloods made it possible to… produce estimates of the population affected by the floods to guide the immediate response...and inform the formulation of a more comprehensive response plan.”

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American Meteorological Society (AMS) Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology Article "Testing Passive Microwave Hail Retrievals Using GPM DPR Ku-Band Radar" Accepted

Sarah Bang (ST11) and Daniel Cecil (ST11) authored a paper titled “Testing Passive Microwave-Based Hail Retrievals using GPM DPR Ku-band Radar” that was recently accepted to the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (JAMC). In a previous paper, Bang and Cecil created a passive-microwave hail retrieval algorithm that is trained on surface hail reports to estimate the probability of severe hail. The retrieval is used to construct a nearly global climatology of severe hail using Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) passive-microwave data. In this paper, Bang and Cecil assess the performance of their passive-microwave severe hail retrieval, as well as several other retrievals from the literature, using GPM dual-frequency precipitation radar (DPR) data.

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The retrievals are assessed based on how tightly they constrain the radar reflectivity at -20C (where hail would be expected in the cloud), and how this measured radar reflectivity aloft varies geographically. The paper also outlines a methodology for screening out surface ice and snow artifacts and adjusting passive-microwave brightness temperatures from different microwave radiometer footprints to make possible the application of the hail retrieval to multiple satellite platforms.

Read the article at: https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-20-0129.1

IMPACT Team Organizes Global Data Science Competition

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Manil Maskey (ST11) of IMPACT  led formulation and organization of global data science competition (https://www.drivendata.org/competitions/72/predict-wind-speeds/) on improving accuracy of wind speed forecasts.  Data science experts from around the world are expected to develop innovative solutions for this challenge to help make better decisions in an event of a tropical storm. Iksha Gurung, IMPACT data scientist, generated a machine learning ready training dataset for the competition. The competition is hosted by the Radiant Earth Foundation with support from NASA and many industry partners.

Risk Financing Technical Assessment Group (TAG) Present Findings and Recommendations to SERVIR Network

Risk financing programs can protect millions of households, communities, farmers, and pastoralists, from shocks such as floods and droughts. Satellite data are becoming more prevalent in such programs, but not without challenges. To better understand the risk financing landscape and role of Earth observations, SERVIR collaborated with the NASA Earth Sciences Program Risk Reduction & Resilience Program Advisor to convene a technical assessment group (TAG). The TAG conducted research and held conversations with SERVIR hubs and other experts in the field, to prepare a scoping report on gaps and recommendations for SERVIR and the applied Earth observations community. The TAG presented its findings including five short term and six long term recommendations to the SERVIR network on 11/20/20. Included among the recommendations were 1) encouraging the adoption of index insurance quality certification initiatives, 2) contributing to EO-based loss databases, and 3) expanding stakeholder groups to include economic and financial partners.

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Paper Comparing Ocean Winds Near Thunderstorms and Non-Thunderstorms Published in Remote Sensing Journal

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Timothy J. Lang (ST11) is the sole author on a paper, titled “Comparing Winds Near Tropical Oceanic Precipitation Systems with and without Lightning,” that was recently accepted and published in the journal Remote Sensing. The study takes a novel approach to comparing ocean winds near thunderstorms and precipitation systems that don’t produce lightning, by combining ocean wind, lightning, and precipitation information from multiple NASA datasets – including the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), the International Space Station Lightning Imaging Sensor (ISS LIS), and the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG). Data from the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT), the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), and the World-Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) were also used in the study. Though the main hypothesis being tested was that thunderstorms have consistently stronger surface winds compared to non-thunderstorms, the results of the global analysis over the tropical oceans were more mixed. ASCAT wind measurements, which tend to be more affected by the presence of precipitation, supported the hypothesis, but CYGNSS wind measurements (which are less affected by precipitation) did not. However, both ocean wind datasets agreed that the presence of precipitation systems (with or without lightning) are associated with significantly increased wind speeds over the background flow. In addition, thunderstorms are consistently associated with heavier rainfall over the global oceans compared to non-thunderstorms. The results demonstrate that accurate space-based ocean wind measurements near precipitation continue to be a major challenge for the scientific community. This work also has implications for understanding how wind outflows from precipitation systems impact the global climate, as well as the relative importance of thunderstorms for affecting the planetary boundary layer.

MSFC Scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)

  • Aaron Kaulfus (ST11) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) convened two virtual sessions on 12/8/20 at AGU entitled “End-to-End Machine Learning: Tools, Pipelines, and Practical Applications” providing a platform for experts across the Earth and Atmospheric science communities to present their technological advances in machine learning workflows. These sessions were co-convened with data scientists and machine learning experts from the IMPACT team as well as Development Seed.
  • Kaylin Bugbee (ST11 of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) convened a virtual session on 12/9/20 at AGU entitled “Data for All: Open Data Sharing and Analytics to Empower Science.” The session explored the various activities taking place across the sciences to support open data and analytics. The session was co-convened with Kevin Murphy (NASA HQ), Robert Chen (Columbia University of New York) and Joshua Brinks (ISciences).
  • Rahul Ramachandran (Earth Science Branch) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) convened a virtual session on 12/9/20 at AGU Fall Meeting entitled: Conveyed Linking Knowledge in the Earth and Space Sciences: Pioneers of a New Paradigm. This presentation featured pioneering progress on three broad topics: 1) the use of data science as a common language between disciplines, allowing methodology transfer to change how we work; 2) cutting-edge approaches to knowledge management through knowledge graphs/networks; and 3) pioneering advances in project integration.
  • As part of the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program and Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) Aaron Kaulfus presented on an overview of the CSDA program, its partnerships and collaborations with commercial data vendors, and the data services under development by the CSDA team at MSFC to support the discovery and access of commercial satellite data acquired by the program. As part of the presentation, he participated in an overview and discussion session on 12/7/20.
  • Sarah Bang (ST11) served on a panel discussing early career opportunities in the Atmospheric and Space Electricity Section on 12/7/20. The panel included speakers from industry, academia, and national laboratories in addition to the NASA representation. Early career opportunities in the Earth Science branch were discussed, and the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP), DEVELOP and Pathways Internship programs, and the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Sciences and Technology (FINESST) graduate fellowship were highlighted.
  • SERVIR had a strong showing at the annual AGU Fall Meeting. USAID, NASA, current and past Applied Science Team members, and all hubs were represented. Members of the SERVIR network convened or co-convened 12 sessions, and presented 18 posters and 26 oral presentations. Topics ranged from food security to disasters to gender inclusion in the geosciences. Highlights included a Town Hall on the state of capacity building in the field of SAR remote sensing, a GEOGlowS spotlight piece on AGU TV, and SERVIR representation during the popular Ignite@AGU storytelling event. Core events for AGU were 12/7-11/20, but virtual content is available 12/1-17/20.

SERVIR-MEKONG Launches Air Quality Explorer to Support Decision Makers in Thailand

SERVIR-Mekong launched a new Air Quality Explorer tool, introduced 11/23/20 at a press event in Bangkok, Thailand.  Dr. Lawrence Friedl, Applied Sciences Program Director, participated virtually in the launch press event with a video presentation. The new application features some major advances over previous pollution monitoring systems, combining NASA satellite data, ground-sensor data, and machine-learning techniques to enable large-scale monitoring and forecasting of air quality for the first time in Thailand (previous systems relied heavily on ground-based technology). SERVIR brought together experts in air quality measurement, technology design, atmospheric modeling, and civic engagement, to improve tracking and forecasting of air quality in Thailand and the lower Mekong River region. Key partners in co-developing the web-based platform include the Royal Thai Government’s Pollution Control Department, and the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) (Thailand's space agency).

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COVID-19 Guided Narratives Published for American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting Virtual Booth

Manil Maskey (ST11) of Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT)  led the publication of guided narratives (https://earthdata.nasa.gov/covid19/discoveries) on NASA COVID-19 dashboard for a virtual booth at the AGU Fall Meeting 2020.  These guided narratives allow users to discover how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Earth’s air, land, water, and climate using NASA Earth observation data.  The IMPACT team developed these guided narratives in collaboration with NASA Earth science and communication teams across the agency.

New AGU Earth and Space Science Article Developing a Technique to Use Space Station Video for Scientific Analysis

A recently accepted article in American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Earth and Space Science highlights a Python-based technique to identify lightning and its spatial characteristics within nadir pointing video frames from the International Space Station. The video-derived lightning characteristics were compared against the ISS Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS), Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), and ground based lightning information. Results indicate that the video-derived lightning identification was within 266 km2 of GLM flash footprints, indicating good spatial correspondence between the two datasets. Reverse geolocation of individual frames using lightning data alone proved difficult; however, using city light features from Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day-Night-Band reduced the uncertainty in pointing angle and reverse geolocation. Open source Python-based software was developed to help future investigators reverse geolocate nadir images from the ISS from systems like METEOR (https://github.com/nasa/ISS_Camera_Geolocate). The article is located at: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020EA001085.

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SERVIR Concludes Successful Machine Learning Subject Matter Expert (SME) Training with Virtual Closeout Event

The SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) concluded its most recent Subject Matter Expert (SME) effort on 11/19/20. In March of 2020, a collaboration between Development Seed (developmentseed.org) and the SERVIR-Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) hub set forth to conduct a Machine Learning agriculture-focused training. This virtual training spanned three weeks (9/28 - 10/13) and covered basic Python, statistics, traditional machine learning, applications for Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, and cloud computing. The Development Seed trainers developed curriculum and content informed by SERVIR-HKH’s specific needs in the Agriculture and Food Security thematic area. The training utilized virtual notebooks and analysis-ready datasets as examples, which have also been uploaded to the SERVIR Training Knowledge Management System.

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Rahul Ramachandran Supports Policy Study on Geospatial Applications of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

Rahul Ramachandran (ST11) was interviewed for a research study on behalf of the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) titled, “Policy Research on Geospatial Applications of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML)". The World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) is a platform for global collaboration within the geospatial industry and between the private and public sectors. This study seeks to understand how initiatives around AI/ML related policies in different jurisdictions may impact the Geospatial industry. Ramachandran gave his perspective on the various facets of this topic.

SERVIR Highlights Ongoing Work and Collaborations for understanding Desert Locusts at Global Conference

SERVIR participated in the Information and Communications Technology for Agriculture (ICTforAg2020) virtual conference, joined virtually by global thought leaders across the world on 11/18/20. The 1-day conference explored the current state and future trends in agriculture, food security, resilient populations, and technology. SERVIR presented on their ongoing work in collaborations with NASA Harvest, NASA SPoRT, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, among many others, towards understanding Desert Locust breeding conditions. SERVIR uses high resolution modeled soil moisture conditions to predict conditions prime for Desert Locust breeding and egg incubation. Targeting the locust early on can help inform control efforts on the ground, to diminish the impact of the biblical pest.

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Presentation of COVID-19 Dashboard to NASA, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and ESA (European Space Agency) Principals

Manil Maskey (ST11) of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT)  presented the current status of Earth observation dashboard for COVID-19 to Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator Science Mission Directorate at NASA; Josef Aschbacher, Director, Earth Observation Programmes at ESA; and Koji Terada, Vice President and Director General, Space Technology Directorate at JAXA on 12/7/20.  Maskey, along with technical leads from JAXA and ESA, also formulated a workplan for COVID-19 dashboard for next six months.  Approval of the workplan resulted in a joint declaration by the three principals during the union session on Science in the Time of COVID-19, at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2020.

SERVIR Hosts Exchange to Improve Gender Inclusion in Service Planning

The SERVIR Gender Exchange was held virtually November 9, 10 and 12. Over 100 participants from the SERVIR hubs, SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO), SERVIR Support Team (SST), NASA Capacity Building Program, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) attended. Experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Advancing Gender in the Environment (AGENT) program led the exchange with support from SCO and SST. Through this exchange, SERVIR provided thought leadership on how to include gender in the design of geospatial services. Key discussions included how to conduct a gender assessment, how to incorporate gender in the desired outcome and impact, and understanding the role gendered data plays in service design and development. Ultimately this exchange fostered an open dialogue on how and why integrating gender into SERVIR services is critical to fully understanding the role Earth Observations plays in decision making.

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Kaylin Bugbee Supports Canadian Government Study on Earth Observation Data System Best Practices

Kaylin Bugbee (ST11) was interviewed for a research study on behalf of the Canadian federal government. The study is pursuing insights into best practices and lessons learned regarding Earth observation data systems. Bugbee gave her perspective on various facets of this topic including data curation, metadata quality recommendations and open science best practices.

Dan Irwin of SERVIR Science Coordination Office Provides Keynote Address at AmazonTec

On 10/28/20, Daniel Irwin of the SERVIR Science Coordination Office provided the keynote address to the virtual AmazonTec Symposium. AmazonTec is an annual regional conference coordinated by SERVIR-Amazonia hub organization Conservación Amazónica (ACCA), which provides a forum to highlight exceptional work in the Amazon Basin that connects cutting edge technology to policy and decision making. Hundreds of virtual participants attended Irwin’s presentation, “SERVIR Global: Successful Experiences in the Development of Geospatial Services for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forests,” where Irwin described the SERVIR approach to co-developing environmental services and how the global SERVIR network is addressing forest management challenges. Irwin also presented about NASA’s cutting-edge satellites, sensors, and technologies to be released in the coming years, as highlighted in the 2017 Earth Science Decadal Survey.

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SERVIR Network Participates in Google GEO for Good Virtual Summit

The SERVIR network attended the Google Geo for Good Summit 2020, held virtually 10/20-21/20, with representation from all five hubs and the Science Coordination Office. SERVIR gave a five-minute plenary ‘lightning talk’, discussing “SERVIR’s use of Earth Engine to address environmental challenges in developing regions”. SERVIR team members also co-organized eight virtual meetups as part of the Summit, ranging from a virtual networking event to Machine Learning workflows for Earth science using Google Cloud.

Publication on Use of Synthetic Aperture Radar for Flood Detection

MSFC Earth Science Disasters Team and SPoRT team members are coauthors on a recent publication “Flood Hazard and Risk Assessment of Extreme Weather Events Using Synthetic Aperture Radar and Auxiliary Data: A Case Study”, led by Esayas Gebremichael of Texas Christian University.  In the manuscript by Gebremichael, Earth Science Branch’s Andrew Molthan, Jordan Bell, Lori Schultz, and Christopher Hain, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) backscatter and coherence information is used to assess the extent of flooding following significant rainfall events in the region of Houston, Texas, which often experiences widespread riverine and flash flooding as the result of severe weather and tropical cyclones.  Capabilities of SAR for water mapping were explored by looking for dark radar regions indicating standing water but also the use of coherence products, or the similarity in the phase and backscatter information comprised from multiple scenes.  Information from the UAVSAR airborne instrument and other data sets were used for calibration of the output results.  Gebremichael initiated the work supporting the manuscript while working with the MSFC team and continues to collaborate with MSFC personnel after pursuing a tenure-track position at Texas Christian University.  Team members plan to continue collaborating with Gebremichael while broadening their SAR expertise.  The full article is available online: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/12/21/3588

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Manil Maskey Presented the Earth Observation Dashboard for COVID-19 at the 34th Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Plenary

Manil Maskey (IMPACT project at (ST11) presented the Earth observation dashboard for COVID-19 at the 34th Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Plenary 10/20-22/20. CEOS Plenary focuses on decisions to be made by Principals to advance and direct the various initiatives underway within the numerous subsidiary groups that are active in support of CEOS objectives.  During the Plenary, Maskey (NASA Lead on COVID-19 dashboard) along with European Space Agency (ESA) lead and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) lead informed the CEOS members on recent updates to the COVID-19 dashboard and collaboration among the three agencies. The leads also presented a plan for continued collaboration. After the presentation, other agencies expressed strong interest in joining the trilateral collaboration.

Rahul Ramachandran Presented an Overview of NASA's ESDS Program and the IMPACT Project at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Earth and Environmental Sciences Seminar Series

Rahul Ramachandran (ST11) presented “Making an IMPACT: From Open Data to Open Science” at the PASSHE Earth and Environmental Sciences Seminar Series on 10/29/20. The seminar series was coordinated and hosted by Millersville University but due to COVID restrictions on travel, the event was virtually broadcasted to all undergraduates and aspiring scientists across fourteen Pennsylvania state universities.  Ramachandran’s presentation provided an overview of NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program and the Interagency Implementation and Concepts Team (IMPACT) Project as well as its portfolio. The presentation also highlighted the concept of open science and how data programs can play a pivotal role in accelerating the path to open science. A link to the presentation and the schedule for upcoming speakers for the seminar series is available at https://www.millersville.edu/esci/earth-sciences-seminar/earth-sciences.php.

New Web Article on Use of NASA Remote Sensing to Study Historic Iowa Derecho

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Jordan Bell (ST11) was quoted for a follow up article (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/langley/nasa-researchers-help-analyze-a-historically-powerful-costly-storm) on the powerful Iowa Derecho that swept across the state in early August. The article highlighted the use of various remote sensors, both in space and on the ground, that were used to analyze the characteristics of the severe thunderstorms and the damage that occurred to the agricultural crop lands. Bell specifically discussed the use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that he was able to use to identify the damaged agricultural areas. All this analysis was passed off to the State Climatologists’ Offices in Iowa and Illinois as well as impacted NOAA/NWS Forecast offices. This work is part of a broader 4-year NASA Disasters Program project between a number of Earth Science scientists at Marshall, UAH, LaRC, and collaborators around the world using NASA remotes sensing to analyze severe storms and the impacts of hail.

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Eos Article "Advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Earth Science: A Data Systems Perspective" Published

Inter-Agency Implementation and Advanced Concepts (IMPACT) Team members Manil Maskey and Rahul Ramachandran (ST13) published AGU Eos article entitled: “Advancing Artificial Intelligence for Earth Science: A Data Systems Perspective.”  Eos is a source for news and perspectives about Earth and space science, including coverage of new research, analyses of science policy, and scientist-authored descriptions of their ongoing research and commentary on issues affecting the science community.  This article discusses high-priority AI challenges related to Earth observations including the lack of publicly available benchmark training data sets and baseline pretrained models.  The article also highlights recommendations for meeting challenges in adopting and accelerating AI in the Earth sciences. Read the article at https://eos.org/science-updates/advancing-ai-for-earth-science-a-data-systems-perspective. 

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IMPACT Member Awarded Newcomer Grant at the Cloud Native Geospatial Outreach Day

IMPACT member, Aimee Barciauskas (Development Seed), was awarded the Newcomer grant on 11/11/20 as part of the community awards presented at the Cloud Native Geospatial Outreach Day and Sprint meeting. The virtual meeting was sponsored by Planet and AI for Earth at Microsoft as a collaborative effort to educate the community on cloud-native geospatial formats and tools like SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog (STAC) and Cloud Optimized GeoTIFF (COG). Ms. Barciauskas received the award for her support and participation in making the OMI NO2, MODIS Vegetation Indices (VI) and MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) datasets available in COG format for the COVID-19 Space Apps Challenge and publicly available on the AWS Registry of Open Data at https://registry.opendata.aws/collab/nasa. Making these high value NASA datasets available in a cloud optimized format not only facilitates open science within the community but it also decreases the need for pre-processing and data wrangling, leading to faster innovations and data discovery. The full article and list of community awards can be accessed at https://medium.com/radiant-earth-insights/cloud-native-geospatial-sprint-awards-bounties-4f929727aa9c.

Collaboration with University of Alabama on New Technique for Estimating Floodwater Depth

Ronan Lucey (ST13/UAH) of the MSFC Earth Science Disasters Team is a co-author an accepted paper entitled “Google Earth Engine (GEE) Implementation of the Floodwater Depth Estimation Tool (FwDET-GEE) for Rapid and Large Scale Flood Analysis,” published in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters. The paper introduces a new implementation of the Floodwater Depth Estimation Tool (FwDET) in GEE that that is open access, utilizes cloud-stored surface elevation data, and performs geospatial analytics on the fly to translate satellite-based estimations of flood extent into information on flood depth, extending the value and utility of satellite remote sensing information.  Within the Earth Science Disasters Team, collaborations between Lucey, University of Alabama, and others will advance the team’s capacity to produce timely floodwater data during flood activations that require emergency response and post-flood assessment. The tool has the potential to be utilized by the NASA Disasters Program as a research tool and in flood response activations to provide timely floodwater depth information to key stakeholders.  These activities also further build and advance collaborations with the University of Alabama’s Surface Dynamics Modeling Lab (Sagy Cohen, PI), potentially the National Water Center, and benefits other internal collaborations such as shared technical capabilities with the SERVIR Science Coordination Office.

The paper can be found at https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9242297.

MSFC Earth Science Disasters Team Leads Hurricane Delta Response: Work Highlighted by NASA Administrator

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Members of the MSFC Earth Science Disasters Team joined the efforts led by FEMA’s Interagency Geospatial Coordination team to support the states affected by the landfall of Hurricane Delta with Earth observing data and value-added products. The products produced are shared both on the NASA Disasters portal event page (https://maps.disasters.nasa.gov/arcgis/apps/MinimalGallery/index.html?appid=62bd186703bd4aacb31119c226298a25) as well as the FEMA Geospatial Resource Center Remote-sensing resources page (https://gis-fema.hub.arcgis.com/pages/remote-sensing-resources) for the use of the response and recovery communities.

Capabilities from the team focused on providing multispectral imagery helpful for identifying the extent of surface water following coastal surge and heavy inland rains, for pre- and post-event imagery comparisons.  Collaborations with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and previous support for Hurricane Laura, and now Hurricane Delta, have led to coordination with the Geographic Information System (GIS) staff at the Alabama Emergency Management Agency in Montgomery.  Efforts by NASA’s Disasters Program for response to Delta and other numerous U.S.-impacting hurricane events were highlighted by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in his 10/13/20 Weekly Update.

NASA Bhutan Engagement

The first NASA Bhutan engagement meeting was held on 10/15/20, with NASA Capacity Building Program’s SERVIR, ARSET (Applied Remote Sensing Training), and DEVELOP projects, the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, and NASA/MSFC STEM Engagement Enterprise participating. Project representatives from the US State Department, US Embassy in Bhutan, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICER), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF), College of Science and Technology (CST), Royal University of Bhutan (RUB),Department of Information Technology & Telecom (DITT), Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), Department of Hydropower & Power System (DHPS), Ministry of Education and Agriculture (MoEA), and the Ministry of Education (MOE) from Bhutan, convened to discuss the US collaboration on STEM in Bhutan.

SERVIR's Africa Flores-Anderson is "Breakthrough Scientist" in Latest Science Friday Video

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Africa Flores-Anderson (ST13), Regional Science Coordination Lead for SERVIR-Amazonia at the NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) in Huntsville, Alabama, is featured in the latest episode of the “Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science” documentary series.  The videos follow women working at the forefront of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Ms. Flores-Anderson’s video, titled ‘Breakthrough: The Lake Sentinel’, focuses on her work using NASA Earth observations to monitor water quality in Lake Atitlán, in her native Guatemala, and can be viewed on the SciFri YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/H3TwExv689c.

An article about the video is also featured on the NASA Applied Sciences Earth Science website.

IMPACT Publicly Releases Sub-Orbital Catalog Portal on Earthdata Search Website

Christopher Lynnes (Goddard Space Flight Center), a team member of both MSFC Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) and NASA’s Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS), worked with the Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) recently to improve airborne and field data discovery in Earthdata Search. The ADMG team members identified needed metadata tags and humanizers using comparisons of existing metadata elements in the Common Metadata Repository (CMR) with the ADMG inventory information.  Lynnes subsequently constructed the Sub-orbital Catalog Portal, a focused interface that provides a similar environment to Earthdata Search, but reduces the overhead for targeted users such as those locating airborne and field investigation data. The outcome for users is a significant improvement in more meaningful search results when using search filters. The Sub-orbital Catalog Portal is now publicly available at https://search.earthdata.nasa.gov/portal/suborbital/search.

Paper Published in Remote Sensing Journal

Emily Berndt (ST11)published a peer-review manuscript titled “Gridded Satellite Sounding Retrievals in Operational Weather Forecasting: Product Description and Emerging Applications” in Remote Sensing within the special issue on Satellite Data Application, Validation and Calibration for Atmospheric Observation. Over the last several years, Berndt has led a funded project to develop gridded satellite sounding retrievals for the operational forecasting community.  The project has been executed as a collaborative effort between the Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center and the NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System Proving Ground and Risk Reduction Program.  Additional SPoRT team members contributed to analysis (Dr. Erika Duran / UAH), data visualization and data production (Roger Allen / Jacobs and Frank LaFontaine / Jacobs), and end user outreach (Kris White / NWS Huntsville).  The paper presents a standardized methodology for gridding satellite sounding retrievals and development of derived products to support short-term weather forecasting.  Several analysis examples are presented in the paper such as application in pre-convective weather forecasting, monitoring the potential for fire weather, tracking the Saharan Air Layer, and the influence of stratospheric air intrusions on weather systems.  This paper represents development of approaches to better synthesize remote sensing observations and novel concepts to support application of these observations beyond the original intent of the data, ultimately increasing the availability and usability of joint NASA and NOAA investments. As a successful transition of research to operations/operations to research, the capability described in this paper has been transitioned the entire NOAA National Weather Service for use in real-time weather forecasting operations.

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IMPACT Provides Challenge and Participates as Subject Matter Experts in NASA Space Apps Challenge

The Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts (IMPACT) subject matter expert team consisting of Mr. Aaron Kaulfus (Earth Science Branch), along with members from the IMPACT Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) team, utilized their Earth and computer science expertise to support the “Automated Detection of Hazards” NASA Space App Challenge from 10/2-4/20. The team provided resources including four labeled training datasets from the IMPACT machine learning team as well as access and support to the Image Labeler tool for generating new training datasets. The challenge received 95 team submissions the majority of which focused on fire, floods, algal blooms and hurricanes. The team is currently evaluating the submissions for unique solutions to ongoing detection challenges associated both with those actively investigated by the IMPACT and newly labeled phenomena.

Public Provisional Release of Harmonized LandSat Sentinel-2 S30 Data Product

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The HLS project led by the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts (IMPACT) project harmonizes Landsat and Sentinel-2 observations to form a virtual constellation that generates analysis ready surface reflectance observations at 30-meter resolution. HLS consists of two data products, the Landsat component of the constellation (L30) and the Sentinel-2 component of the constellation (S30). On 10/5/20, the Land Processes (LP) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) which is responsible for archive and distribution of data products generated by IMPACT, released a provisional version of the S30 data product to the public. The S30 data product is available through the Earthdata search platform and imagery will soon be available in NASA Worldview. HLS is the first data product in the Earth Observing System Data Information Systems (EOSDIS) data archive that is fully contained in the cloud and marks the beginning of a new chapter for data production and distribution for NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS).

In other IMPACT news, Brian Freitag (ST11) and Sean Hawkins gave a technical presentation on the development of Harmonized Landsat Sentinel-2 (HLS) data products to colleagues at ESA on 10/8/20. During the information exchange, both Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts (IMPACT) and ESA discussed interest to further collaboration in both product development and validation of harmonized data products from Landsat and Sentinel-2.

Manil Maskey Serves as Invited Panelist and Keynote Speaker

Manil Maskey (ST11) served as an invited panelist for "Visionary Panel: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML)" as part of the NASA Digital transformation Virtual Event on 10/7/20.  The panel discussed NASA’s emerging strategy for AI and Machine Learning transformation as part of NASA’s overall Digital Transformation initiative.  This strategy includes practical application of AI to NASA-hard problems, access to AI/ML tool platforms, and workforce upskilling in AI/ML, AI/ML teamwork / partnerships, and AI-enabling NASA’s data.  Maskey specifically discussed adoption of AI/ML within NASA science and presented AI/ML initiatives to enable acceleration of science.  This digital transformation event brought many leaders from NASA and industry involved in Digital Transformation activities including Steve Jurczyk (NASA Associate Administrator), Ron Thompson (NASA Chief Data Officer), and Jill Marlowe (NASA Digital Transformation Officer).

He also gave a keynote presentation at the ESA Phi-Week 2020 event on 10/2/20.  Maskey presented “Advancing AI for Earth Science: A Data Systems Perspective” at the “”Digital Twins Experiences in the World” session where he highlighted NASA Earth Science Data System Program’s artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) strategy. This session focused on the practical implementation of Digital Twins and the potential application areas for a Digital Twin Earth in the real world.

SERVIR-Amazonia Virtual Training on "Mapping and Monitoring Mangroves Using Google Earth Engine" Builds Capacity in Guyana

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Kelsey Herndon of the SERVIR Science Coordination Office supported SERVIR-Amazonia’s virtual training “Mapping and Monitoring Mangroves using Google Earth Engine”, led by Abigail Barenblitt (University of Maryland (UMD)/GSFC) in four sessions held from 9/14-23/20. This event was provided as the third in a series of trainings aimed at building the capacity of Guyanese stakeholders to use synthetic aperture radar and optical remote sensing data to monitor the country’s mangrove forests. The topics covered included an introduction to Google Earth Engine, machine learning to create land cover classifications, collecting reference data using Collect Earth Online, and app building in Google Earth Engine.

Twenty participants joined from the National Agriculture and Extension Institute (NAREI), the University of Guyana, National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Amerindian Peoples Association, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydrometeorological Service, Conservation International-Guyana, Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Ministry of Natural Resources, Guyana Forestry Commission, WWF Guyana Office, Iwokrama International Center, and Protected Areas Commission. Technical skills developed in this workshop will feed directly into the co-development of a mangrove monitoring platform for all of Guyana’s coasts.

SERVIR Science Coordination Office Hosts Virtual Tensor Flor Exchange

The 2020 TensorFlow Technical Exchange was a five-day virtual event held 9/21-25/20, during which participants built their capacity to leverage Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Deep Learning (DL) techniques and approaches through a series of training, lectures, and hands-on demonstrations. These included Google Earth Engine training, Google Colab training and demonstration notebooks, Google Cloud and AI platform exercises, as well as lectures, discussions, and demonstrations by SERVIR hub and Applied Sciences Team members. Additional expertise and resources, including cloud computing credits, were provided by Google. Over the five days of the Exchange, members from all five hubs utilized the TensorFlow library and ML approaches to further develop self-identified/user-defined services. At the peak of attendance, the Exchange had 65 participants from across the hubs in the virtual classroom. The outcomes from the exchange included 1) increased capacity in ML techniques as well as familiarity with leveraging cloud technology, 2) hubs utilized the expertise in the exchange to make progress on their self-identified services as well as test out new methodologies into existing service workflows, and 3) hub teams prepared presentations and technical workflows, vital for eventual highlight at the Geo for Good Event (10/21-10/22).

Paper on Open Source Software to Retrieve Three-Dimensional Winds in Convection Accepted in Journal of Open Research Software

Timothy J. Lang (ST11) is a co-author on a paper, titled “PyDDA: A Pythonic Direct Data Assimilation framework for wind retrievals,” that was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Open Research Software. The paper was led by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), and reports on a new open source software package that performs retrievals of three-dimensional (3D) winds in convection using ground-based Doppler radar data. The software derives from a prototype Python module called MultiDop. MultiDop development was led by Lang with seed funding from the NASA Weather program during Fiscal Year 2016. ANL then refined and enhanced the approach to be faster, more robust, and more user-friendly, leading to the new PyDDA package. The 3D wind retrieval capability provided by PyDDA, when used in concert with networks of Doppler radars throughout the globe (including the U.S. NEXRAD network), will help expand the Program of Record (PoR) for the forthcoming NASA Aerosol, Cloud, Convection, and Precipitation (ACCP) mission.

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PyDDA is also expanding the data provided by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Validation Network (VN). PyDDA software may be obtained here: https://github.com/openradar/PyDDA.

Read the article here: https://openresearchsoftware.metajnl.com/articles/10.5334/jors.264/

Validating Raindrops Measured from Space for the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission

For the past decade, Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has been tasked with validation of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core satellite—NASA’s flagship Earth-observing satellite mission that measures the size of raindrops to observe where and how much precipitation occurs on a global scale. To do this, MSFC has obtained measurements of individual raindrops from around the globe and translated them using networks of operational ground-based weather radars for comparison with the GPM satellite estimates. This Validation Network and its application to assess GPM satellite retrievals of raindrop size are the topics of a recent study led by Dr. Patrick Gatlin (Earth Science Branch), with contributions from Dr. Walt Petersen (Science Research and Projects Division) and scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center, that was recently published in the journal Atmosphere. The results of this study are important because they provide a fundamental assessment of GPM satellite algorithms that is used by the GPM mission to improve the accuracy of its global maps of precipitation.

Ground Radar Sites for the GPM Validation Network
Ground Radar Sites for the GPM Validation Network

Virtual Training on Remote Sensing for Air Quality Provided, Supporting SERVIR-Mekong Air Quality Activities in Thailand

Dr. Pawan Gupta (USRA/MSFC) delivered a virtual training August 24, 2020 and August 26-28, 2020 to the Thai Pollution Control Department (PCD) and Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Agency (GISTDA) on Satellite Remote Sensing for Air Quality Monitoring and Forecasting, to build their capacity to use NASA Earth Observations. The training was attended by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC)/SERVIR-Mekong, PCD, GISTDA and SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) researchers and staff. The virtual training was a pre-cursor event for the upcoming release of the SERVIR-Mekong Air Quality Explorer that has been accepted by the PCD and GISTDA to incorporate into their existing air quality management system. The application features the use of NASA satellite Earth observation and model data to enable large-scale monitoring and forecasting of air quality in Thailand given current efforts heavily rely on sparse ground-based monitoring.

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SPoRT Publishes First SWOT Early Adopter Peer-Reviewed Publication Featured as September Image of the Month by French Space Agency

As an early adopter for the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, the Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center recently published the first SWOT early adopter peer-reviewed publication (DOI 10.1029/2020WR027464). SWOT is a joint mission between NASA and the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). Led by MSFC NASA Postdoc Program fellow Dr. Nicholas Elmer, this publication is a collaboration between SPoRT scientists and CNES SWOT mission partners to demonstrate the simulation of SWOT data using the CNES Large-Scale SWOT Hydrology Simulator.

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CNES Aviso+ is featuring this publication as their September 2020 Image of the Month (https://www.aviso.altimetry.fr/en/news/front-page-news.html) to illustrate the value of simulated SWOT data in preparing for the mission prelaunch.

Earth Science Branch Participation in Virtual GLM Science Team Meeting

Nine members of the Earth Science Branch’s Atmospheric Electricity and SPoRT teams planned and participated in this year’s 2020 Geostationary Lightning Mapper  (GLM)Virtual Science Team meeting this year. Nearly 80 virtual participants tuned into three days of meetings on September 8 - 10, 2020. Chris Schultz, Steve Goodman, and Bill Koshak helped NOAA collaborator Dr. Scott Rudlosky plan the three day event, where 41 presenters from the research, operational forecasting, and program management communities shared their findings related to current and future GLM missions.  The team presented their impactful work related to validation of the GLM and ISS-LIS (Lightning Imaging Sensor) instruments, scientific understanding of thunderstorm charging applications to severe storms though observational analysis and numerical modeling, and their efforts to provide impactful algorithms, storm tracking, and short term forecast techniques to the operational weather community.  The week closed with discussion toward new objectives for the next 12 months, and the development of the GLM Value Assessment document being used by NOAA to assess the future implementation of a GLM instrument on NOAA’s GEO-XO mission concept to develop the next generation of geostationary sensors.

SERVIR Applied Sciences Team Project Makes Impact in Recent Nepal Floods

Each year torrential rains spell disaster for communities in mountainous regions of Nepal. To help mitigate this impact, a decision-making tool was developed by Dr. Patrick Gatlin and others on SERVIR’s Applied Sciences Team, led by Dr. Ashutosh Limaye, and at its hub in Nepal. The High Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT) provides high-resolution forecasts of precipitation that are used for predicting the rise and fall of water levels in the numerous rivers that cut through the Himalayan Mountains.

Recently, these HIWAT derived streamflow predictions were used at the local level in a city outside Kathmandu, Nepal to inform decision-makers of a potential disastrous flood event that was to occur. As a result of this new information and training on how to use it, district leaders were able to take preventative measures by digging a deeper river channel in advance of the flood event. These actions kept the city’s cement factory, which is one of its biggest industries, from receiving any damage—something that has not been the case in years past before they had such a tool as HIWAT.  This is yet another example of how SERVIR connects space to village and continues to develop innovative solutions that address critical challenges in developing countries.

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NASA .gov Article Features Hailstorm Risk Research by Marshall Scientists

A new NASA.gov article highlights a ROSES: Disasters project funded to Chris Schultz, Dan Cecil, and Jordan Bell (ST11 Co-Is) and includes work by current NPP Sara Bang who will shortly join Marshall as a civil servant.

The NASA Langley Research Center component emphasizes monitoring of severe hail-producing storms from geostationary sensors including data obtained from NOAA and collaborative work from Marshall's ground station feed. The article also discusses the monitoring of severe storms via lightning (Schultz), hail damage detections to agriculture and vegetation (Bell), and informing insurance/re-insurance and risk assessment through global analyses in passive microwave (Cecil, Bang).

To read the full article, go to: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/langley/nasa-takes-an-insured-look-at-hailstorm-risk.

Manil Maskey Presented at the Civil Applications Committee Meeting and at the Cerner Healthcare Engineering Tech Talk.

Manil Maskey presented an overview of NASA's Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) program during the Civil Applications Committee meeting )CAC).  CAC is an interagency committee that coordinates and oversees the federal civil use of classified collections.  Recently, CAC activities have focused on a range of environmental and remote sensing applications central to Federal agency missions.  Maskey discussed NASA’s approach to commercial data evaluation and long-term sustainment.  Many federal agencies were interested in continuing the discussions further in terms of sharing of purchased commercial data and addressing issues with end user licensing.

On August 25, 2020, he presented “Data driven technology to accelerate Earth science research and applications” to the Cerner engineering community.  The talk highlighted the NASA Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) program’s capabilities, challenges and technological approaches to address those challenges.  Maskey also demonstrated machine learning work by MSFC Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT).  This presentation is an effort to engage the community and maximize the opportunity for achieving IMPACT and ESDS’s outreach goals. A recording of the presentation can be found at https://engineering.cerner.com/tech-talks/.

New SPoRT Satellite Product Adopted for Preliminary Assessment by the National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has adopted a new satellite product developed by the Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center for preliminary testing. This product is derived from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) satellite sounding retrievals, which use the heritage NASA AIRS Science Team version 5.9 algorithm. NUCAPS retrieves vertical profiles of temperature, humidity, trace gases, and cloud properties through a combination of both infrared and microwave instrumentation from a number of platforms, including the Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP), a joint NASA-NOAA satellite.  The product includes both temperature and moisture anomalies, which are important for tropical cyclone (TC) intensity prediction, displayed in a storm-relative framework that makes it easier for forecasters to interpret. A web page that displays these anomalies in real time for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was created in collaboration with Rebekah Esmaili at the Science and Technology Corporation (STC)/Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).

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Images demonstrate regions of moist/dry air, as well as gradients in temperature and moisture, capturing important features such as dry air intrusions that can inhibit TC intensification. This product allows forecasters to diagnose short-term changes in TC thermodynamic structure, and supplements Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) water vapor imagery by providing the amount and location of moisture at a number of different vertical levels in the atmosphere. SPoRT will solicit feedback from forecasters at NHC over the coming months to further enhance the product in preparation for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

SERVIR Well-Represented During NASA Applied Sciences Week

Applied Sciences Week 2020, taking place as a virtual event this year because of COVID-19, highlighted a wide variety of projects taking place within NASA's Earth Science Applied Sciences Program. SERVIR provided highlights of activities from around the globe each day, as part of an agenda that also featured DEVELOP closeout presentations from the summer 2020 term, application area overviews, and topics such as NASA Sustainable Development Goal activities. Emily Adams, Tim Mayer, and Andrea Nicolau, all of the SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO), presented on topics highlighting SERVIR hub activities in Africa, Amazonia and Asia. Betzy Hernandez, SCO Capacity Building Lead, presented on Capacity Building Program activities with the Central American Integration (SICA), as part of the SICA Engagement Overview & Highlights. In addition, SERVIR Applied Sciences Team PI Hyongki Lee presented a Water Resources Highlight on activities in the Mekong Region. The event took place 8/3-6/20, with NASA's new Earth Science Division (ESD) Director, Karen St. Germain, providing opening remarks on the first day, and  Lawrence Friedl, Applied Sciences Program Director, opening the sessions on the following days.   ​

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MSFC Earth Science Disasters Team Participation in Applied Sciences Week

During the week of August 3, 2020 NASA’s Earth Science held a virtual “Applied Science Week” in lieu of the normal festivities in-person at NASA Headquarters during the same time of year.  During the week, activities within the Applied Sciences Program were presented to a broad audience of local and national/international partners.  Andrew Molthan provided a briefing regarding the ongoing Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Working Group on Disasters and its recently initiated Flood Pilot, featuring collaborations with U.S. and Canadian partners on the application of low-Earth orbit (LEO), geostationary (GEO), and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery to addressing immediate post-event and longer-term mapping of flood extents.  Work within the Flood Pilot will continue to explore shared methods for flood mapping and sharing of data to the benefit of the disaster response, preparedness, and mitigation communities while further exploring international partnerships encouraging open access to relevant data sets and sharing of techniques and methodologies for flood mapping from remote sensing observations.

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Paper on the International Space Stations Lightning Imaging Sensor Accepted in Journal of Geophysical Research

Rich Blakeslee (ST11/Emeritus) and Timothy J. Lang (ST11) are lead authors on a paper, titled “Three years of the Lightning Imaging Sensor onboard the International Space Station: Expanded Global Coverage and Enhanced Applications," that was recently accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Several other Earth Science Branch-affiliated scientists also contributed to the study. The paper provides an overview of the International Space Station Lightning Imaging Sensor (ISS LIS), which has provided global observations of lightning from the ISS since March 2017. ISS LIS is the only existing instrument providing global observations of total lightning - day and night, with high uniform detection efficiency over land and ocean. 

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The mission builds on the highly successful Optical Transient Detector (OTD; 1995-2000) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) LIS (1997-2015) instruments, and extends global lightning monitoring to higher latitudes (+/- 55°) than were previously available from TRMM LIS. Due to the uniqueness and importance of ISS LIS measurements, the journal editor has also recommended a highlight of the paper to appear in the American Geophysical Union's Eos magazine. ISS LIS is nearing the end of the NASA Senior Review process, where Lang led a recent presentation on ISS LIS science to a panel convened by NASA Headquarters, and an extension of the mission to as late as Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 has been requested. A Senior Review decision is expected by the end of FY 2020.​

SPoRT Scientists Lead hurricane Forecast Briefings for NOAA's Hurricane Research Division

Each year, the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts a field campaign to provide real-time observations to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. The field program's three aircraft collect data that are invaluable in improving the accuracy of hurricane forecasts. An integral part of this field campaign is a daily weather briefing led by scientists from HRD, other federal agencies, and universities. This briefing is used to make important decisions regarding aircraft deployment and flight patterns. Erika Duran and Patrick Duran of the Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) project led HRD’s daily weather briefings for the week of 8/3-7/20. The briefings consisted of real-time analysis of satellite and aircraft datasets along with an interpretation of model forecasts. The daily meetings provided a forum to feature existing and newly developed SPoRT products to 50-90 hurricane researchers and forecasters from across the nation. For example, the Gridded NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPSsounding product, which SPoRT is collaborating with other agencies to develop, proved highly useful in characterizing dry air near Hurricane Isaias. This dry air was an important factor that inhibited further intensification of the hurricane off the coast of Florida. SPoRT scientists will continue to participate in the briefings throughout the hurricane season to help identify new applications for NASA data sets in hurricane forecasting.

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Earth Observatory Article on Impact to Agricultural Crops in Iowa Following Intense Derecho

Jordan Bell and Christopher Schultz (EaST11) were interviewed for an Earth Observatory article (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147154/derecho-flattens-iowa-corn) following the devastating Derecho that moved through Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana on 8/10/20. This derecho flattened wide swaths of near-peak maturity crop land. Their interview comes as both are part of a broader four yearlong Applied Sciences project that is utilizing Earth observations to monitor intense thunderstorms that produce hail damage around the globe. Bell is using satellite imagery from both optical and synthetic aperture radar instruments to analyze damage swaths in agricultural areas. Schultz used lightning rates to track these damaging storms from a satellite perspective providing initial locations to look for damage in Bell’s analysis.  Schultz also connected the analysis to key partners with the Iowa State Climatologist Office and the National Weather Service Offices in Des Moines and Davenport to get the initial crop damage assessment to the field.

Manil Maskey Recognized as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Senior Member

IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society and through its membership, individuals have access to cutting-edge information and networking opportunities with industry leaders in the areas of aerospace, computer science, and many other areas. Senior membership is the highest level of recognition within the IEEE community and is designated only to those members who have a total of 10 years of experience as an engineer, scientist, and/or technical executive and have demonstrated 5 years of significant achievement. Manil Maskey was awarded this honor due to his significant contributions to the Earth Science and Computer Science communities. Maskey has published numerous journal articles and organized conference sessions.  Currently, he serves as the Earth System Informatics Chair for the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society. These activities have allowed him to mentor students and network with data science and informatics experts from academia and industry.

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SERVIR Network Participates in Virtual Tethys Training

SERVIR hosted a virtual Tethys Training from July 13 through August 14, 2020 led by subject matter expert Nathan Swain of Aquaveo.  Originally planned as an in-person training to take place at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), home of the SERVIR-Hindu Kush Himalaya hub in Kathmandu, Nepal, the workshop was changed to a virtual event because of COVID-19. The self-paced training was offered as three online courses, with two of the courses covering integration of Google Earth Engine into a Tethys app and one covering a typical Tethys production server deployment. The SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) team reviewed and provided feedback on the online documents, code tutorials, and videos in preparation for the training.  Participants included team members from the SCO and three SERVIR hubs (SERVIR-Eastern and Southern Africa, SERVIR-Hindu Kush Himalaya, and SERVIR-Amazonia). Originally developed for supporting water resources applications, Tethys’ Python-powered Software Development Kit (SDK) can be used for any thematic/scientific modeling web-based applications. More information on the Tethys Platform can be found at https://www.tethysplatform.org . SERVIR-developed Tethys-based apps are found on the SERVIR Global Tethys Portal at https://tethys.servirglobal.net/apps/​.

MSFC IMPACT Team Publishes Journal Article on Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Through Deep Learning Techniques

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Inter-Agency Implementation and Advanced Concepts (IMPACT) Team members Manil Maskey, Rahul Ramachandran,  Muthukumaran Ramasubramanian, Iksha Gurung, Brian Freitag,  Aaron Kaulfus, Drew Bollinger along with collaborators Dan Cecil (ST11) and Jeffrey Miller (Climate Forecast Applications Network) were co-authors on a journal article entitled: “Deepti: Deep-Learning-Based Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation System.” The article discusses the implementation of a situational awareness tool to monitor tropical cyclone intensities which are determined objectively using a deep-learning technique on highly temporal infrared satellite imagery. The portal has been tested in a production environment and expert feedback has been incorporated.  The portal, one of the firsts of its kind, is a collaborative effort between IMPACT, hurricane science, and Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT) teams within the MSFC Earth Science Branch.  The article is published in the Institute of Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing (JSTARS).

SERVIR and Group on Earth Observations Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS) Virtual Hackathon

SERVIR and the GEOGloWS communities came together for a virtual hackathon form August 3-7, 2020. Applied Sciences Team (AST) Principal Investigator (PI) Jim Nelson of Brigham Young University (BYU) hosted the virtual hackathon, bringing together over 70 PIs, co-Is, post docs, and students from around the country, including the NASA/SERVIR Science Coordination Office. Nine teams formed to learn how to use the online platform Tethys, collaborate on science, and to rapidly build web applications that allow users to view and analyze data from satellites and hydrology forecasts. This hackathon embodied the spirit of teamwork that SERVIR envisions in its Applied Sciences Team. The fruits of these collaborations will benefit the broader SERVIR network as the AST co-develops with SERVIR hubs and their stakeholder organizations in support of water resources management and disaster risk reduction.

Rahul Ramachandran Serving as a Technical Monitor for a NASA Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research

Rahul Ramachandran will serve as a technical monitor for the University of Delaware’s EPSCoR project titled “Building a Competitive and Sustainable Delaware Remote Sensing Big Data Center for Cutting-Edge Coastal and Environmental Change Research and Workforce Development”. This project is developing the next-generation computational and data science cyberinfrastructure through the Data Science Institute, including a new National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant to implement an advanced high-performance computing and data system for transformative research and training. The project will support research initiatives that will address critical environmental issues, bringing broad social, educational and economic benefits to Delaware and the Nation.

Renewed 5-Year Agreements Signed for Two SERVIR Hubs

Two of SERVIR’s existing hubs, SERVIR-Eastern and Southern Africa (E&SA) and SERVIR-Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) have signed new 5-year agreements, extending their partnerships under the joint NASA and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative, for another five years for each host organization.  SERVIR-E&SA is hosted at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi, Kenya.  The kickoff meeting for the new agreement with RCMRD is scheduled for August 10, 2020. Under the new agreement, Zambia and Malawi are added to the countries that SERVIR-E&SA primarily focuses on (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania). USAID and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), host organization for SERVIR-HKH, along with NASA and USAID representatives, convene to sign their next 5-year agreement on July 30, 2020. ICIMOD is based in Kathmandu, Nepal, and SERVIR-HKH focus countries are Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Afghanistan, and Pakistan. On June 30, 2020, USAID and NASA signed a new Inter-Agency Agreement to continue the SERVIR Participating Agency Program Agreement (PAPA) for another 5 years, to the year 2025​.

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Earth Science IMPACT Team Members Help Develop COVID-19 Dashboards

Manil Maskey (ST11) and several other IMPACT team members participated in a virtual unveiling of the Tri-Agency Earth Observing Dashboard on June 25, 2020. The dashboard encompasses resources and expertise from three agencies to help strengthen our global understanding of the environmental and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Users can explore how indicators based on remote sensing data from ESA, JAXA and NASA have evolved over time and investigate how Pandemic guidelines and safety-measures have affected Earth's air, land, water, and economic activities. Maskey led a team of software developers and science experts to develop a framework for transforming Earth observation data for the dashboard.  Additionally, Maskey led machine learning experts in quantifying shipping activities from commercial satellite observations.

The EOS article on the dashboard can be found at https://eos.org/geofizz/six-ways-satellites-tracked-covid-19 and the Tri-Agency Dashboard can be accessed at https://eodashboard.org/.

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NASA’s COVID-19 Dashboard: A beta version of the NASA’s Earthdata COVID-19 Dashboard has been developed and features data collected about Earth systems by a fleet of powerful global Earth-Observing satellites, instruments aboard the International Space Station, airborne science campaigns, and via ground observations. As communities around the world have changed their behavior in response to the spread of COVID-19, NASA satellites have observed changes in the environment. This experimental dashboard reflects a rapid response to COVID-19 that is currently underway and will continue to evolve as more data becomes available. The dashboard will be publicly released in the next few weeks. IMPACT researchers (see picture below) were instrumental in development of this NASA dashboard including web development, machine learning algorithm development, infrastructure setup, and science data preparation for dashboard.

NASA’s Earthdata COVID-19 Beta Dashboard can be found at: https://earthdata.nasa.gov/covid19/.

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SERVIR Applied Sciences Team (AST) and SERVIR-Amazonia Hub Working Together to Provide Amazon Fire Forecast to Decision Makers

Doug Morton, a SERVIR AST Principal Investigator for SERVIR-Amazonia, shares the state of the science regarding the upcoming Fire Season in Amazonia in a new NASA article. Morton (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) leads one of the four AST projects in SERVIR-Amazonia. Each of these projects is developed in collaboration with the SERVIR hub. His project “Forecasting seasonal to sub-seasonal fire and agricultural risk from drought in Amazonia” is producing valuable information to inform decisions makers about fire potential for this year. The fire potential is high due to expected dry conditions for this fire season. The Fire Risk Forecast web page was co-created by Morton and Co-Investigator (Co-I) Yang Chen (University of California, Irvine).  SERVIR-Amazonia also organized a webinar at the end of June to share information about the upcoming fire season, where Morton’s Co-I, Niels Andela (University of Maryland, College Park), along with Katia Fernandes from University of Arkansas and Matt Finer from Monitoring of the Amazon Andean Project MAAP shared findings related to fires and their association with recent deforestation, and the appropriate climatic conditions with high potential for fires this year, with decision makers and stakeholders in the region.​

Click here to read the NASA article: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/conditions-ripe-for-amazon-fire-us-hurricanes.

Paper on Lightning Mapper Array in Argentina Accepted in Journal of Atmospheric and Ocanic Technology

Timothy J. Lang (ST11) is lead author on a paper, titled “The RELAMPAGO Lightning Mapping Array: Overview and initial comparison to the Geostationary Lightning Mapper," that was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology.

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Rich Blakeslee (ST11/Emeritus) and NASA colleagues from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and elsewhere also contributed to the study. The paper reports on three-dimensional observations made by a NASA Marshall Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) that was deployed during 2018-2019 in the Cordoba province in north-central Argentina.This region has long been known for producing some of the strongest thunderstorms on Earth, and the LMA made many unique observations of lightning within extreme convection. The new study with the LMA shows that the detection efficiency of the spaceborne Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) varies significantly (between ~30-90%) with thunderstorm evolution and the dominant characteristics of the lightning being produced. RELAMPAGO (Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations) was the name of the field campaign that the LMA supported (relampago = lightning) in Spanish. The field campaign was focused on intense convection and was primarily funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), while the LMA deployment received its funding from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite - R series (GOES-R) Program Office, which supports validation activities for GLM by NASA Marshall.

Click here to read the article: https://journals.ametsoc.org/jtech

Marshall Scientists Help Certify New World Records Set for Lightning Size and Duration

Timothy J. Lang (ST11) and Rich Blakeslee (ST11/Emeritus) contributed to the certification of two new World Meteorological Organization (WMO) records for lightning size and duration. The new records - longest flash distance of 440 miles (709 km) and longest flash duration of 16.73 seconds - more than double the previous WMO lightning records from 2017 (which were also co-certified by Lang). The reason is because the spaceborne Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) instrument, with its continuous hemispheric field of view, was used to map these new flash extremes. The flashes occurred in Brazil (October 31, 2018, size) and Argentina (March 4, 2019, duration). The latter flash was also partially resolved by a NASA Marshall Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) deployed to north-central Argentina. Detailed analysis of both flashes, including the comparison with the LMA, can be found in an article titled “New WMO Certified Megaflash Lightning Extremes for Flash Distance (709 km) and Duration (16.73 seconds) recorded from Space,” which was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters found at this link:  ​https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020GL088888.

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New Video Series Showcasing NASA's Applied Sciences Team (AST) Collaborations with SERVIR Hubs

​​Three years of NASA SERVIR AST projects, selected through a ROSES solicitation in 2015, culminated in a close-out conference hosted at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. After interviewing SERVIR hub scientists, AST Principal Investigators, and other key team members who attended the conference event, a series of five videos was produced. These have recently been released, highlighting the cutting-edge research and collaborative science conducted during the proposal time frame.

Each video contains detailed information about the services developed during this second iteration of the SERVIR AST projects, and can be viewed on the SERVIR Global website at https://www.servirglobal.net/Multimedia/Video. The five videos can also be viewed on SERVIR's YouTube channel:

Each video showcases details about the service as well as associated impacts on the ground--connecting space to village.

NASA and the United States Agency for International Development Sign New Interagency Agreement for SERVIR

On June 30, 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and NASA signed a new Inter-Agency Agreement to continue the SERVIR Participating Agency Program Agreement (PAPA) that started in 2005 for another 5 years.  This establishes a firm foundation of support from both USAID and NASA to continue SERVIR to the year 2025 and beyond, to “Connect Space to Village” around the world using Earth observation data to improve the lives for many. This agreement provides $12.55 million from USAID to NASA in the next 5 years to continue science coordination support to the five SERVIR hubs, with an additional $5 million potential for related work and funding opportunities. This partnering agreement will strengthen and continue USAID and NASA efforts to apply science and build capacity to use Earth observing satellites and geospatial data, enabling local solutions toward prosperity for developing communities, countries, and regions around the world.​

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SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) Hosts NASA Webinar on Service Planning Apprach

On June 23, 2020, Emily Adams, Amanda Markert, and Emil Cherrington of the SERVIR SCO led a NASA webinar exchange with engaged members of  NASA's Earth Science Division on the topic of Service Planning. Nancy Searby, NASA Capacity Building Program Manager, opened the virtual event and introduced the speakers. As a joint initiative of NASA and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SERVIR develops Earth observation-based services through a series of key steps that are expected in international development projects, including developing a Theory of Change; the user consultation and needs assessment process; stakeholder mapping; service design; gender considerations in service design; and monitoring, evaluation and learning. To support SERVIR’s Service Planning approach to designing these geospatial information services, the SERVIR network (including the NASA SERVIR SCO, the SERVIR Support Team from Chemonics, and SERVIR hubs around the world) has developed a Service Planning Toolkit. 63 participants dialed into the webinar, which built on topics originally showcased in 2017 at an event for the SERVIR network (hosted at the SERVIR-Eastern & Southern Africa hub), along with lessons learned from several years of applying the approach at the five SERVIR hubs.

NASA Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Early Adopter Program Virtual Hackathon

From May 26 to June 1, 2020, the SPoRT project participated in a virtual hackathon for Early Adopters of the NASA Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. The hackathon was designed to engage Early Adopters and help them overcome technical issues in preparing for SWOT data and using the SWOT data simulator. MSFC NPP scientist Nicholas Elmer participated in the hackathon as a presenter and hacker-helper. Elmer contributed to the SWOT data simulator to improve usability by the Early Adopter community and wrote the simulator tutorial used by other Early Adopters during the hackathon. As an Early Adopter, SPoRT is preparing to integrate SWOT observations into the NOAA National Water Model and the SPoRT Land Information System (SPoRT-LIS) product, and has supported the need for low-latency SWOT products to use in operational and near-real-time systems.

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Roses Proposal Selected for Funding

Emily Berndt (ST11) in collaboration with Nicholas Elmer (ST11/NPP/USRA) and Gary Jedlovec (ST11 Branch Chief) submitted a proposal to NASA ROSES 2019 Earth Science Research from Operational Geostationary Satellite Systems solicitation to expand previous work to correct and intercalibrate imagery from different satellite platforms which ultimately improves feature identification and detection in multispectral composites.  The team members within Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) have a history of developing techniques and capabilities to improve multispectral imagery for the benefit of society and use by operational end users.  The proposal “Development of limb-corrected and intercalibrated multispectral composites from the constellation of geostationary satellites" was 1 of 9 selected for funding out of a pool of 83 submissions to NASA.  Over the three-year project, the team will refine the previously developed techniques, expand other international geostationary platforms, validate and conduct process studies, and collaborate with NASA Ames to make the improved data available to the broader research community through the GeoNEX data portal. The improved data will additionally benefit SPoRT partners who routinely use multispectral composites – derived from the MSFC Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) receiving station data- in weather forecasting operations.

Marshall Earth Science Disasters Team Collaborating with Partners to Assist with Michigan Floods and Tropical Storm Cristobal

The NASA Headquarters team supporting Earth Science Disasters activities requested a "response" to flooding in Michigan resulting from heavy rains and combined dam failures.  Team member Lori Schultz was included as the event lead, helping to coordinate inputs from distributed partners.  MSFC team members acquired Landsat and DigitalGlobe Worldview imagery to assist with event analysis, JPL team members contributed their view of flooding from a Planet imagery granule, and external partners provided additional water extent mapping.

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An ongoing collaboration with the University of Alabama and Google Earth Engine facilitated an experimental estimation of flood water depth, a new angle and improvement upon other analysis techniques to date.  Information is being shared with partners at FEMA HQ to support their interests and involvement in flood response activities.

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Lori Schultz is also currently serving as the “event lead” for activities regarding the recent Tropical Storm Cristobal impacts to the Gulf Coast. As the event lead, she has been participating in routine organizational calls with the Disasters Team. However, the coastal/rainfall-based flooding has been less severe than anticipated and no major actions were taken in response.​

New Book, “Satellite Precipitation Measurement, Vol 2”, Features Chapters by SRPD Deputy Manager, Walt Petersen

“Satellite Precipitation Measurement, Vol 2” has recently been published by Springer and features chapters authored or co-authored by Walt Petersen, Deputy Manager of the Science Research and Projects Division.  Over the last two decades, there have been significant advances in the measurement of precipitation from space, primarily due to the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), CloudSat, and a constellation of satellites hosting passive microwave sensors. This book provides a complete overview.

Walt Petersen led the chapter on “GPM Ground Validation” (Chapter 26), describing the GPM Ground Validation program, its international contributions, instrumentation, and science results. The chapter also focuses on describing observed characteristics of precipitation (e.g., 3D structure of precipitation from the surface to the tropopause, precipitation phase, drop-size distributions, rain and snowfall rates etc.) and how these characteristics compared to GPM satellite-based remote sensing estimates.

He also co-authored a second chapter (Chapter 31), “Integrated multi-satellite evaluation for the Global Precipitation Measurement mission: Impact of precipitation types on spaceborne precipitation estimation.”  This chapter describes new state of the art radar network-based products developed in collaboration with NOAA, unique ways to use those products to compare ground and satellite-based estimates of precipitation, and how those comparisons vary as a function of the precipitation regimes and their physics.

“Satellite Precipitation Measurement” is a two volume work and more information can be found at https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030357979.

Specific chapters referenced:

 Petersen, W. A., P. E. Kirstetter, J. Wang, D. B. Wolff, A. Tokay, 2020: The GPM Ground Validation Program. Chapter 26 in, Satellite Precipitation Measurement, V. Levizzani et al. (eds), Vol. 2, Springer-Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-35798-6_2

Kirstetter, P., W. A. Petersen, C. D. Kummerow, and D. B. Wolff, 2020:  Integrated multi-satellite evaluation for the Global Precipitation Measurement mission: Impact of precipitation types on spaceborne precipitation estimation. Chapter 31, in Satellite Precipitation Measurement, V. Levizzani et al. (eds), Vol. 2, Springer-Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-35798-6_7.

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Earth Science's Dan Irwin a Guest Participant in a Live World Environment Day Event

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Dan Irwin was an honored guest participant in an Instagram Live event last Friday for World Environment Day hosted by Mae Jemison. Mae’s thank you note stated her thanks for a “really incredible, engaging energetic discussion of SERVIR, remote sensing and space connection with Earth. I've been getting such rave reviews about folks learning about the work NASA does. I was so pleased to have been with an organization that had the foresight o support your work.”

Marshall's Earth Science Branch Supports Multiple COVID-19 Efforts

On May 29, 2020, the Inter-Agency Implementation and Advanced Concepts (IMPACT) team, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), made the following datasets (Ozone Monitoring Instrument NO2, MODIS Vegetation Indices and MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth) available in Cloud Optimized GeoTIFF (COG) format for the COVID-19 Space Apps Challenge. COG allows data to be dynamically analyzed in efficient ways.

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The global hackathon held on May 30 - 31, 2020 invited teams to use Earth observation and other open source data to formulate solutions to challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NASA and AWS have a space act agreement in place to explore best practices around discovery, access, and use of high-value NASA science datasets. Making these products freely available for the virtual event showcased the partnership and emphasized our efforts in making analytics-optimized data stores available to the science community. More information about the datasets and access can be found at https://earthdata.nasa.gov/collaborate/cloud-optimized-geotiffs.  These datasets were also ingested into the Euro Data Cube along with datasets from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and European Space Agency.

NASA also hosted a special edition of the Space Apps Challenge to invite participants to develop analyses on the COVID-19 global pandemic using NASA observations.  Andrew Molthan  participated as a subject matter expert for the “Light the Path” challenge, where participants were to use nighttime light and other observations to try and track changes in human behavior as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Molthan participated remotely with global (remote) participants to provide guidance and suggestions on how to incorporate NASA data, including processing of imagery and opportunities to combine nighttime lights, surface remote sensing, population, and other data to help address questions of interest.  Later this summer, Andrew and other NASA colleagues will have an opportunity to judge the final submitted projects and select multiple winners.

Green Team Presentation on COVID-19 Impacts to Climate

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At the June meeting of Marshall’s Green Team, Gary Jedlovec  presented insight on the potential impact of Covid-19 on climate change.  The industrial slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a 25-30% reduction in global daily carbon dioxide emissions (~20 MegaTons CO2 / day) for the months of March-May 2020. Despite what seems to be a significant drop in emission, this has yet to show any reduction in the upward annual trend observed in carbon dioxide over the last 80 years.

However, satellite observations of nitrogen dioxide, a key component of air pollution (particles around 2.5 micrometers in size) and highly correlated with burning of fossil fuels, show large reductions over cities compared to pre-COVID-19 amounts.  This reduction has led to less pollution, increased visibility, and lower health risks for respiratory problems in these regions.  NASA and other agencies around the world have increased funding efforts to further explore the impact of the pandemic on the environment.   Marshall’s Green Team supports Marshall’s environmental policy to enabling NASA’s mission by providing environmental compliance and stewardship and a safe, healthful workplace with its actions and educational outreach activities.  Jedlovec supports the Green Team related to climate components of NASA’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP).

Lightning Research Flashes Forward

Chris Schultz was interviewed by AGU’s Heather Goss as part of a team of authors about how GLM advances lightning research for improved forecasts and increased understanding of lightning processes.

This article highlights the collaboration between NASA SPoRT and the National Weather Service in Huntsville for severe thunderstorm warning decisions in December 2019 and January 2020 in the Tennessee Valley.  Schultz also spoke of the lightning safety initiatives within SPoRT for the improvement in public safety. SPoRT’s work with lightning initiated wildfires was also highlighted to demonstrate how SPoRT is working to identify lightning initiated wildfires in real-time. This article included other key researchers who work with the Lightning Group at MSFC and SPoRT, like Ryan Said at Vaisala, lightning safety experts Ron Holle and May Ann Cooper, lightning researcher Bill Rison at New Mexico Tech University, and NWS Huntsville warning forecaster Ashley Ravenscraft.

SERVIR Analysis Using NASA Satellite Data Demonstrates Effectiveness of U.S. Government Investments in Ethiopia.

NASA satellite data analysis conducted by the SERVIR Science Coordination Office demonstrated the success of a decade of water-related investments (e.g., dam and diversions) supported by the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Food for Peace projects in Ethiopia.

For instance, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace has supported community-level resilience-building activities in eastern Tigray, Ethiopia, including the construction of water management infrastructure, through the Government of Ethiopia-led Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). A recent analysis used 34 years of satellite data (1984-2018) to explore changes in land productivity and water availability associated with the construction of this infrastructure at 36 sites in eastern Tigray. SERVIR’s analysis of NASA satellite observations found that:

  • Project sites show increased water availability throughout the year.
  • Increased water availability persists in drought years.
  • In most sites, water infrastructure interventions likely strengthened resilience by improving water access during the main cropping season.
  • In some areas, water infrastructure interventions have also strengthened resilience by allowing for a second crop to be planted.

USAID invests billions of dollars in support of country initiatives around the world, with an aim of promoting US diplomacy initiatives. Without satellite data and analysis, it is often difficult to show results of these investments at the landscape scale. SERVIR’s analysis was applauded by USAID senior leadership and is published in different formats (Agrilinks article and video). NASA is currently training SERVIR hubs to perform similar analyses to replicate the methodology in other countries.

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SERVIR Science Coordination Office Supports Virtual Training on Monitoring of Mangroves

Andrea Nicolau, Kelsey Herndon, and Africa Flores-Anderson of the SERVIR SCO supported the virtual training “Mapping and monitoring changes in mangrove forests using Python and more”, led by Marc Simard (NASA JPL) twice a week from 5/14/20 to 6/8/20. The training was the second provided as part of Simard’s subject matter expert work to support the systematic monitoring of mangroves in Guyana. The eight online sessions used cloud-computing resources provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI) that served as a time-saving alternative to working with big data and complex software in an online setting. Objectives of the training included producing basic map products with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data for a monitoring system and documenting the production methods so they can be replicated on an annual basis. The virtual workshop also included the participation of Temilola Fatoyinbo and her team from NASA GSFC as guest presenters to leverage the use of Google Earth Engine for the mapping and monitoring of mangroves.

The nineteen participants included individuals from the University of Guyana (UoG), National Agricultural Research and Extension Agency (NAREI), Conservation International (CI), Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), Conservation International (CI), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Hydrometeorological Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Natural Resources, Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure – Sea and River Division.

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Paper on Weather Model Assimilation of CYGNSS Wind Observations Published in Remote Sensing

Timothy J. Lang is a coauthor on a paper, titled “A Study on Assimilation of CYGNSS Wind Speed Data for Tropical Convection during 2018 January MJO,” that was recently accepted for publication in the journal Remote Sensing.

The study, led by NASA colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Xuanli Li and John Mecikalski), tested the assimilation of Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) wind observations, along with other datasets, into a weather forecast model. This is one of the first studies to test the assimilation of CYGNSS winds for forecasting tropical weather other than just tropical cyclones, as the focus was convection that occurred during an active Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is a tropical weather pattern that can have global impacts, and CYGNSS may help improve our understanding of the MJO, because compared to traditional scatterometers CYGNSS wind observations are less sensitive to heavy rainfall that occurs during active MJOs. The study found that CYGNSS did indeed lead to improvements in weather forecasts during the MJO, especially for winds. However, even better forecast improvement occurred when other global wind and precipitation datasets were ingested as well. This study shows the added value of CYGNSS data for tropical weather forecasting, when used as part of a holistic data assimilation approach.

The article can be found here: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/12/8/1243.

Rahul Ramachandran Selected for the High Performance Computing (HPC) Technical Computing Advisory Panel

Rahul Ramachandran has been selected as a panelist on Hyperion Research’s HPC Advisory Panel. The panel is composed of government and private industry professionals, data scientists and researchers who work with HPC and provide vital insight to shaping the future direction of HPC. Panelists will participate in online surveys throughout the year on a variety of topics related to industry trends, challenges, and new HPC technologies.

More information on the HPC User Forum can be found at https://hpcuserforum.com.

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SERVIR-Amazonia and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Host Virtual Training on Sample-Based Area Estimation

Africa Flores-Anderson, Kelsey Herndon and Andrea Nicolau of the SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) supported a virtual training on “Sample-Based Area Estimation and Accuracy Assessment”. This was a joint workshop between SERVIR-Amazonia and FAO. Trainers included Ms. Paula Paz from the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Ms. Milagros Becerra from Conservacion Amazonica – ACCA , Mr. Erith Muñoz from FAO and Ms. Africa Flores-Anderson from SERVIR SCO.  The objective of the training was to strengthen the capacity of technical staff from the Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador (MAE) to perform their area estimations and accuracy assessment using state-of-the-art methods that help them mitigate omission errors found in their forest maps.  Eleven staff members from MAE participated in the training. Free and open-source Open Foris platforms, including SEPAL and Collect Earth Online (CEO) were used. MAE is currently working to produce its carbon emission estimates for the 2018-2019 period to access their results-based payment for reduced deforestation for the third time. This ongoing collaboration with SERVIR-Amazonia and FAO will contribute to MAE´s goals to effectively estimate emissions reduction and enroll in results-based payments in order for communities to sustain their conservation efforts.

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SERVIR Subject Matter Expert-Led Training on Mapping Forest Degradation with Synthetic Aperture Radar

Kelsey Herndon, Andrea Nicolau, and Africa Flores-Anderson of the SERVIR Science Coordination Office (SCO) supported the virtual training “Mapping Forest Degradation with SAR Sentinel-1 Time Series”, led by Josef Kellndorfer (EarthBigData). The training was the third provided as part of Dr. Kellndorfer’s subject matter expert work to support the expansion of SAR to existing forest monitoring platforms in SERVIR-Amazonia (SAMZ) partner organizations. Objectives included implementing various degradation algorithms using Sentinel-1 time series data in Jupyter Notebooks, testing the effectiveness of the algorithms for identifying known degradation sites, and developing appropriate recommendations on which methods to use to identify forest degradation in an operational manner. This training was one in a series of SAMZ trainings that took place virtually instead of in person, due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Virtual machines for all participants were made possible with the support of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI). The twenty participants included individuals from Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM), Instituto de Manejo e Certificação Florestal e Agrícola (Imaflora), Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMbio), Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), Universidad del Rosario, Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais (IBAMA), and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA). The technical skills developed in this workshop will feed directly into the forest monitoring efforts of SAMZ partner organizations to improve forest degradation monitoring across the region.

SERVIR-MEKONG Activities Highlighted by United States Ambassador to Thailand

On April 25, 2020 U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Michael George DeSombre, wrote an op-ed in which he mentioned NASA and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) activities through SERVIR-Mekong that bring publicly available satellite data to the region to help local governments address challenges of drought, flooding and transboundary water resources. He particularly highlighted the Drought Early Warning portal that SERVIR-Mekong has co-developed with the Mekong River Commission (MRC). This online portal, launched in March, uses drought and crop yield forecasts generated by the Regional Hydrologic Extremes Assessment System (RHEAS) modeling framework. The SERVIR Science Coordination Office at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is leading the development of the RHEAS framework, along with scientists at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The MRC distributes weekly and monthly Drought Early Warning bulletins through the portal, and monitors drought conditions for the countries in the Lower Mekong Basin as part of their drought management strategy.

The article is available at https://th.usembassy.gov/saving-the-mekong-the-economic-lifeblood-of-an-entire-region/.

Earlier the same week, the Michael Barkin, Senior Policy Advisor to US Mission to the UN, mentioned SERVIR in talking points for the April 22, 2020 United Nations Security Council video teleconference on Climate Change and Security Risks, as an example of the United States working with global partners to share knowledge, data and tools.

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