20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into two and half minutes

November 17, 2017 by Marcia Dunn
20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into two and half minutes
From space, satellites can see Earth breathe. A new NASA visualization shows 20 years of continuous observations of plant life on land and at the ocean’s surface, from September 1997 to September 2017. On land, vegetation appears on a scale from brown (low vegetation) to dark green (lots of vegetation); at the ocean surface, phytoplankton are indicated on a scale from purple (low) to yellow (high). This visualization was created with data from satellites including SeaWiFS, and instruments including the NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Credits: NASA

NASA captured 20 years of changing seasons in a striking new global map of the home planet.

The , released this week, shows Earth's fluctuations as seen from space.

The polar and snow cover are shown ebbing and flowing with the seasons. The varying ocean shades of blue, green, red and purple depict the abundance—or lack—of undersea life.

"It's like watching the Earth breathe. It's really remarkable," said NASA oceanographer Jeremy Werdell, who took part in the project.

Two decades—from September 1997 to this past September—are crunched into 2 ½ minutes of viewing.

Werdell finds the imagery mesmerizing.

"It's like all of my senses are being transported into space, and then you can compress time and rewind it, and just continually watch this kind of visualization," he said Friday.

Since the fall of 1997, NASA satellites have continuously and globally observed all plant life at the surface of the land and ocean. Twenty years of satellite data has helped scientists track phytoplankton populations in the ocean, study changing vegetation in the Arctic reaches of North America, monitor crop yields and more. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Werdell said the visualization shows spring coming earlier and autumn lasting longer in the Northern Hemisphere. Also noticeable to him is the Arctic ice caps receding over time—and, though less obvious, the Antarctic, too.

On the sea side, Werdell was struck by "this hugely productive bloom of biology" that exploded in the Pacific along the equator from 1997 to 1998—when a water-warming El Nino merged into cooling La Nina. This algae bloom is evident by a line of bright green.

In considerably smaller Lake Erie, more and more contaminating algae blooms are apparent—appearing red and yellow.

20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into two and half minutes
The SeaWiFS satellite was launched in late 1997, just in time to capture the phytoplankton that bloomed in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific as conditions changed from El Niño to La Niña, seen here in yellow Credits:

All this data can provide resources for policymakers as well as commercial fishermen and many others, according to Werdell.

Programmer Alex Kekesi of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said it took three months to complete the visualization, using satellite imagery.

Just like our Earth, the will continually change, officials said, as computer systems improve, new remote-sensing satellites are launched and more observations are made.

20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into two and half minutes
Vegetation in North America wakes up in the spring, captured here as a change from pale green to dark green as photosynthesis ramps up with the season. White areas are covered in snow Credits: NASA

Explore further: NASA sees a different kind of El Nino

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Steve_S2
not rated yet Nov 18, 2017
I imagine this is something the various Insurance Companies will make use of along with the other tools in their kit for factoring costs & premiums for people and their property. You can rest assured that if anyone can value what Climate Impact is costing and it's overall effects, they can ! It is ironic that they never discuss their information nor disclose their statistical data but I suppose they have to stay on the "we are neutral and won't say a word" side given the derision and rhetoric around the undeclared war we are fighting for all species, including humanity on this rock.

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