The Fort McMurray wildfire, which was first reported on May 1, 2016, and not declared under control until July 5, 2016, destroyed more than 2,400 homes and buildings and forced the evacuation of 80,000 people in Alberta, Canada. Although no one died directly from the fire, it is expected to be one of the most-expensive natural disasters in Canada's history, with insurance and firefighting costs expected to reach up to $5 billion, a figure large enough to negatively impact the country's overall economy.
Solar Eclipse Casts Moon Shadow on Earth
On March 9, 2016, and approximately 1 million miles from Earth, NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) captured the shadow of the Moon moving across Earth's sunlit face. The only total solar eclipse of 2016 moved across the Indian Ocean and past Indonesia and Australia into the open waters and islands of Oceania and the Pacific Ocean.
Sentinel-3A Satellite Launched, Now Transmitting Imagery
On Feb. 16, 2016, the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-3A satellite was successfully launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. Sentinel-3A carries a suite of instruments that will measure Earth's oceans, land, ice and atmosphere, providing information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting as part of Europe's Copernicus program.
Satellites Document Deadly Storms and Resulting Floods
Heavy rainfall, flooding and tornado outbreaks affected areas of the United States from the Southwest through the Midwest in late December 2015. Fourteen deaths were attributed to the deadliest tornadoes that hit Benton, Miss., on Dec. 23, 2015.
NASA Satellites Track Historic Hurricane Patricia
Hurricane Patricia made landfall on Oct. 24, 2015, along the southwestern coast of Mexico. NASA's Aqua satellite captured Patricia making landfall, while the Global Precipitation Measurement mission core satellite added up Patricia's high rain totals, which exceeded more than 409 millimeters (16.1 inches) over open waters.
NASA's New Blue Marble More than Iconic
A new Blue Marble image, patterned after one of the most famous and reproduced photos of all time, a 1972 photo from Apollo 17, is the first fully illuminated snapshot of Earth captured by the DSCOVR satellite, a joint NASA, NOAA and U.S. Air Force mission almost two decades in the making.
Phytoplankton Blooming Along Both U.S. Coasts
Prodigious phytoplankton growth can be toxic to an ecosystem, suffocating marine life (by depleting the oxygen in the sea) or producing toxins that can sicken and sometimes kill the creatures (including humans) who ingest them.
Mapping Forest Loss with Landsat
With at least one image of every location on Earth per season for 43 years, the Landsat data archive contains more than 50 trillion pixels. So how could you put all of that imagery to use in discovering and monitoring subtle changes on Earth? One answer lies in the...
Comparing Global Views of Our Planet, Then and Now
In the decade before the first Earth Day, our view of the planet was still fuzzy. Scientists and engineers of the 1960s were experimenting with satellites to see if and how they could be useful for meteorology and Earth science. Early space imagers were similar to...
Carbon Emissions Could Dramatically Increase Risk of U.S. Megadroughts
Droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains during the second half of the 21st century could be drier and longer than any droughts seen in those regions during the past 1,000 years. In a new study published in the journal Science Advances on Feb. 12, 2015,...