November Sea Ice

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NASA Earth Observatory: “In November, the sea ice extent averaged 9.08 million square kilometers (3.52 million square miles)—the lowest November extent in the satellite record. The yellow line shows the median extent from 1981 to 2010, and gives an idea of how conditions this November strayed from the norm.” Also shows sea ice extent for previous years dating back to 1978. Hudson Bay was icebound in November not that long ago.

Previously: Mapping Arctic Sea Ice.

Mapping Arctic Sea Ice

arctic-warm-reanalyzer

Something’s going on in the Arctic. As the Washington Post reported last month, the Arctic Ocean was far, far warmer than normal—about 20 degrees Celsius higher than average. (Meanwhile, the air over Sibera is at record cold levels.) According to the Post, the higher temperatures are the result of record low amounts of thinning sea ice, as well as warm air being brought north by an increasingly errant jet stream.

NASA has been tracking sea ice levels and thickness by looking at the age of the ice in the sea ice cap. The video above shows “how Arctic sea ice has been growing and shrinking, spinning, melting in place, and drifting out of the Arctic for the past three decades. The age of the ice is represented in shades of blue-gray to white, with the brightest whites representing the oldest ice.”

The ESA reports that their CryoSat satellite “has found that the Arctic has one of the lowest volumes of sea ice of any November, matching record lows in 2011 and 2012.” The animated GIF below shows the change in November sea ice from 2011 to 2016, as observed by CryoSat.

esa-arctic-sea-ice-thickness-nov-2011-16

Hazard Maps of Yukon Communities

Old Crow Landscape Hazard Risk Map (detail).
Old Crow Landscape Hazard Risk Map (detail).

Several Yukon communities are built on permafrost. In the context of climate change, that’s something of a problem. CBC News reports on a six-year research project that has produced hazard maps of seven Yukon communities; the maps evaluate the risk to future development from permafrost melting, flooding and ground instability. [CCA]

Hurricane Matthew Map Roundup

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Start with the National Hurricane Center, which has lots of different maps of Hurricane Matthew’s predicted path, weather warnings, rainfall potential and so forth. See also maps from Weather Underground.

Google’s Crisis Map includes evacuation resources—Red Cross shelters, evacuation routes, traffic data—in addition to storm track and precipitation information.

Matthew has already struck southwest Haiti; the Humanitarian OSM Team has put out a call for crisis mappers on the following projects: buildings in Nippes; road network in Grand’Anse and Sud.

earthwindmap-matthew

Wind maps from Windytv and EarthWindMap visualize the wind patterns of Matthew and, further out in the Atlantic, Nicole.

Hurricane imagery from NOAA’s GOES East satellite. NASA Earth Observatory has imagery of Matthew’s path toward Florida.

[Dave Smith/Maps Mania/NASA Earth/NOAA Satellites]

High-Resolution Elevation Data Released for Alaska

The White House
The White House

A new digital elevation model of Alaska was released earlier this monthThe result of a presidential directive to improve elevation maps of Alaska as a tool “to help to help communities understand and manage” the risks of climate change, the ArcticDEM project is a collaboration between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University of Minnesota, among others. The unclassified data gives two-metre (or better) resolution across the state. Lower-resolution DEMs for the entire Arctic will follow next year.

Digital elevation data for Alaska had previously been poor; the National Geographic article leads with the point that Mars has better topographic maps than Alaska does. Most digital elevation data is collected by airplane—an impractical method in the far north; the ArcticDEM is based on stereo imagery from DigitalGlobe satellites. (As a comparison, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission’s DEM resolution is 30 metres for the U.S., 90 metres elsewhere.)

ArcticDEM data is available on the ArcticDEM Explorer page and on the NGA’s Arctic Support 2016 page.

After the cut, a comparison of digital elevation models pre- and post-ArcticDEM, using Anchorage, Alaska.

Continue reading “High-Resolution Elevation Data Released for Alaska”

Louisiana Flooding: NASA Animation of Accumulated Rainfall

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NASA Earth Observatory: “Days of intense rainfall in August 2016 led to widespread flooding in southern Louisiana, as rivers swelled high above their banks and many crested at record-high levels. […] The animation above shows satellite-based measurements of the rainfall as it accumulated over the southern United States. Specifically, it shows rainfall totals every three hours over the span of 72 hours from August 12-14, 2016. These rainfall totals are regional, remotely sensed estimates, and local amounts can be significantly higher when measured from the ground.”

Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray Wildfire Damage

ftmac-app

Satellite imagery from the Pléiades-1A satellite showing the extent of wildfire damage caused to Fort McMurray, Alberta can be viewed through a web-based mapping application released by the government of Alberta. (Doesn’t work in Safari for Mac; works fine in Chrome.) [CBC News]

Previously: DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurrayFort McMurray Fire Roundup.

DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray

DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery of the Fort McMurray wildfire, which uses “short wave infrared imagery (SWIR) to ‘cut’ through the smoke and identify the active footprint and burning hotspots” and reveals where buildings have been damaged or destroyed by the fire, can be viewed at Gizmodo and on DigitalGlobe’s own blog.

Previously: Fort McMurray Fire Roundup.

Fort McMurray Fire Roundup

Here are some links to maps and satellite imagery of the wildfire that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alberta this week.

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1. The fire is fuelled in part by abnormally high temperatures: 32°C (90°F) was reported earlier this week. The above temperature anomaly map, based on MODIS data from NASA’s Terra satellite, demonstrates how unusual these temperatures are: “The map above shows land surface temperature from April 26 to May 3, 2016, compared to the 2000–2010 average for the same one-week period. Red areas were hotter than the long-term average; blue areas were below average.”

2. NASA’s Earth Observatory is also assembling a collection of Landsat satellite images of the fire:

(Sources: 3 May, 4 May, 5 May)

3. Smoke from the fire is making it into the United States, and turning up on NOAA imagery:

4. Maclean’s and CBC News have tried to depict the size of the fire by superimposing it on other cities in Canada and elsewhere in the world; so has Kyrstyn Morochuk, whose maps have been reposted by the Huffington Post. I’m not sure who came up with it first.

Previously: Canadian Wildfire Maps.

Canadian Wildfire Maps

nrcan-fire-danger

Yesterday wildfires swept through Fort McMurray, Alberta, the population centre of the oil sands industry, forcing the evacuation of nearly all of its more than 60,000 residents. It therefore seems timely to point to the maps produced by the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. There are static maps of current conditions, fire danger maps providing an index of fire risk and potential damage (see above for today’s), and various forecasts, as well as an interactive version.

1916 Frost Maps

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In 1916 frost maps that show the average dates of the last spring and first fall killing frostSlate’s Rebecca Onion sees the history of climate change, given the growth in the length of the growing season since then. (Trying to find a modern-day example for comparison; frost maps don’t appear to be updated as rigorously as, say, hardiness zone maps.) [Slate Vault]