to southwest Asia. A post-deployment report from the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) noted, “The [MODIS-based] dust product was invaluable—we were able to track the progression of dust through southern Iraq and Kuwait.… We used model data in conjunction with the dust product to nail down the forecast in regards to the possibility of dust being advected to the [aircraft carrier].”

During OIF, MODIS fire products assisted analysts in monitoring the oil fields of southern Iraq for possible environmental sabotage (similar to what occurred during the 1991 Gulf War). Global fire products from MODIS, available to the public in near real-time via NASA sources, are being used operationally by a number of agencies including the United Nations Global Fire Monitoring Centre (GFMC) for monitoring, planning, and disaster mitigation.2

NASA Measurements Improve Volcanic Ash Advisories for Aircraft Routing and Safety

NASA-sponsored projects have demonstrated reliable and accurate detection of volcanic ash clouds using NASA Earth science satellites. The proven utility of this data led to its operational use by the NOAA National Weather Service to formulate Volcanic Ash Advisories. (These products were used extensively in the Iceland volcano in April 2010.) Recently, the NASA satellite data was used in volcanic ash advisories for aviators across the Gulf of Mexico due to the February 1 eruption of the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico.3

NASA Measurements and Analyses Show Dust Deposits Darken Snow Over Large Regions and Accelerate Melt

NASA satellite observations have demonstrated how deposition of dust on western snowpack is leading to earlier snowmelt by 3-5 weeks in the Colorado River basin, resulting in a 3-week acceleration of the peak runoff period in Arizona. This is of vital importance to water managers and demonstrates essential linkages between atmospheric effects, radiation, and terrestrial processes including local and remote land use change.4

Forest and Timber Productivity Forecasting

A NASA-sponsored project applying Earth science satellite data and models indicates large-scale disturbance to western conifers by as early as 2020. Lodgepole pines, the backbone of the timber industry, will be gone from almost all of the Pacific Northwest by 2080 and replacement species (Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, Larch) will likely be less productive.5

Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Communities (and NASA Facilities)

NASA Earth science researchers are applying satellite observations and modeling to assess impacts of climate change on NASA facilities to support risk management activities and adaptation. The first study [at] Kennedy Space Center indicates a 9-15 inch sea level rise by 2080 along the Space Coast. Overall, projections for the Space Coast indicate higher temperatures, fairly consistent annual precipitation, and rising sea levels.6

Electric and Gas Utilities Load Forecasting

A NASA-sponsored project is demonstrating improvements in short-term utility load forecasts by adding NASA Earth science data to the gas and electric utilities’ existing load forecasting tools. The addition of NASA Earth science data allows the load forecast models to capture both microclimates and larger patterns across the service area and forecast load more accurately. Better load forecasts allow utilities to plan more

2Adapted from S.D. Miller, J.D. Hawkins, T.F. Lee, F.J. Turk, K. Richardson, A.P. Kuciauskas, J. Kent, R. Wade, C.E. Skupniewicz, J. Cornelius, J. O’Neal, et al., MODIS provides a satellite focus on Operation Iraqi Freedom, International Journal of Remote Sensing 27(7):1285-1296, 2006.

3For information on the use of NASA data by NOAA’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, see and

4See and

5See G. Hamilton, Climate change to drive lodgepole pine trees from B.C., Vancouver Sun, March 1, 2011; N.C. Coops and R.H. Waring, A process-based approach to estimate lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl.) distribution in the Pacific Northwest under climate change, Climatic Change 105:313-328, 2011.

6See Climate Adaptation Science Investigator Workgroup, Adapting Now to a Changing Climate: Florida’s Space Coast, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement