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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NASA Suomi NPP Satellite Reveals Images of Earth's Vegetation (Video)

Suomi NPP's mission is to help monitor and predict the course of long-term climate change and short-term weather conditions. 

The satellite is actually part of the Earth Observing System (EOS), which consists of a series of satellites that reveal critical insights into the dynamics of the entire Earth system, including our planet's clouds, oceans, vegetation and ice. In fact, Suomi NPP serves as a bridge between EOS satellites and the forthcoming series of Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites. In this particular case, though, Suomi has focused on the world's vegetation, showing exactly how rainfall patterns have increased or decreased.

Suomi Satellite

After collecting a year's worth of data, NASA's Suomi NPP satellite has produced a vivid depiction of worldwide vegetation with these new pictures, revealing how areas have changed over time. Subtle vegetation changes are visible in this year-long visualization. Large-scale patterns vary with seasons, but the local variations in green are also sensitive precipitation, drought and fire. High values of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or NDVI, represent dense green functioning vegetation and low NDVI values represent sparse green vegetation or vegetation under stress from limiting conditions, such as drought. (Photo : NASA/NOAA)
The picture doesn't look like much. In fact, it seems to show an image that we're all familiar--planet Earth with its well-known continents. Yet this picture is far more than it seems, and is actually the triumph of NASA's Suomi NPP satellite. After collecting a year's worth of data, the satellite has produced a vivid depiction of worldwide vegetation with these new pictures, revealing how areas have changed over time.
This data is important. It will be incorporated into many Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or NDVI-based products and services. This vegetation index measures and monitors plant growth, vegetation cover and biomass production. In addition, it represents the photosynthetic potential of plants, which means that it's crucial for developing models that deal with calculating global temperatures and the impact of climate change. In addition, it allows researchers to better see the effects of drought in certain areas.The new images show the differences between the green and arid areas of Earth as seen in data from the Visible-Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, instrument aboard Suomi NPP. VIIRS detects changes in the reflection of light, producing images that measure vegetation changes over time.
Want to learn more about Suomi NPP? Check out the NASA website here.
You can check out the changing vegetation over time in the video below, courtesy of NASA and YouTube.
Although 75% of the planet is a relatively unchanging ocean of blue, the remaining 25% of Earth's surface is a dynamic green. Data from the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite is able to detect these subtle differences in greenness. The resources on this page highlight our ever-changing planet, using highly detailed vegetation index data from the satellite, developed by scientists at NOAA. The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas. Satellite data from April 2012 to April 2013 was used to generate these animations and images.

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