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Weather satellites helping COVID-19 research with 'Earth Observing Dashboard'

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Jun 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 12:49:48-04

In the weather office, we often use satellite data to look at certain weather features. Satellites give us a top-down look, a view from space, which can provide great detail about cloud cover, hurricanes, fronts, snow cover, fires, dust, the list goes on.

But weather is not the only feature monitored by satellites. There are a wide range of Earth observing satellites used for a variety of reasons, but they all show a unique view and perspective of what is happening on Earth.

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A joint partnership between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has resulted in a new data platform called the Earth Observing Dashboard [eodashboard.org]. The goal of the dashboard is to provide a visual representation of environmental and socioeconomic changes due to COVID-19.

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The impacts of COVID-19 are far reaching, first to human health, but also on the environment and the economy. The dashboard provides a place to view a wide array of data that shows the impact of the pandemic.

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Examples of data found on the dashboard include air pollution, climate data, soil moisture, water quality, shipping activity at ports, and even food production. The recently observed satellite data is compared with historical data, giving a unique perspective on how COVID-19 has changed a wide range of indicators.

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One example shows satellite data of San Francisco at night. In the imagery, there is plenty of light visible at night both prior to COVID-19 and now. But a closer look at the imagery shows that the lights coming from The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center were brighter in April than they were in January.

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The complete NASA press release can be found by clicking here.

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