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GES DISC "Top 10" Highlights for 2013

Achievements, accomplishments, and advances

GES DISC "Top 10" Highlights for 2013

In 2013, the GES DISC provided more data sets, new tools, and additional information to NASA Earth science data users around the world. See the article for the highlight corresponding to each picture.

GES DISC "Top 10" Highlights for 2013


A review of the varied activities of the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) in 2013 encompasses technological advances, new data services, scientific impact, and the availability of new earth science data sets. A list of only ten specific highlights of the year does not come close to describing all of the ongoing work of the GES DISC staff, particularly the behind-the-scenes efforts of staff members who manage the data archive, Web site, and computer systems that allow the delivery of relevant data and data services to the global user community. The list does, however, reflect the commitment of every staff member to facilitate, for researchers and other users, the finding, using, and understanding of the many different data products available from the GES DISC.


Below are brief descriptions of the 2013 “Top 10” highlights from the NASA GES DISC. The images shown with the descriptions correspond to the images on the “NASA GES DISC 2013 Top 10 poster” accompanying this article. Click the link to go directly to the short description of the specific item;  click the image to see a larger version (if available).


hirdls mission banner
The GES DISC is responsible for the preservation of data from the High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) on the Aura satellite, which involves the archival (as examples) of supporting documents, algorithm descriptions, and calibration data for the mission. In addition, the GES DISC received and released Version 7 of the HIRDLS data set. HIRDLS is a joint mission of the United States and the United Kingdom.


airs cloud top temperature image of typhoon haiyan
The GES DISC is the designated archive for data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), also on the Aqua satellite. AIRS is flown as a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) instrument mission. The AIRS data set is one of the largest data sets archived by the GES DISC; the ingest process and administration of data reprocessing took several months to accomplish. AIRS provides information on clouds, water vapor, and temperatures in Earth’s atmosphere; and provides striking images of atmospheric and meteorological phenomena, such as Typhoon Haiyan, shown before its devastating landfall on the Phillippines.
giovanni-4 seasonal average time series, precipitation in u.s. south
Development of the next generation of the NASA Giovanni data system, hosted by the GES DISC, continued at a rapid pace in 2013. Many new capabilities and data products have been added to the system, since it was first released as the “Aerosol Express” (one of the Top 10 highlights of 2012), and several more are nearing release. One of the capabilities in the beta test version, which will soon be available in the operational (public) version, is generation of monthly or seasonal time series. An example of the latter capability is shown in the Giovanni data plot, which displays an average rainfall plot for calendar autumn (September-October-November) over the southeastern United States.  Autumn rainfall in this region is primarily supplied by tropical storms and hurricanes that make landfall and progress inland and can, thus, vary significantly year-to-year.
acos version 3.3 global co2 concentrations for 2010
Version 3.3 of the Atmospheric CO2 Observations from Space (ACOS) data set was received from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2013. ACOS data are derived from data acquired by the TANSO-FTS instrument onboard the Japanese Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT). The ACOS team has now evolved into the instrument team for NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, scheduled for launch in mid-2014.  The image shows average ACOS Version 3.3 CO2 concentrations for the year 2010.
doi banner
The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) has been used for several years to give a single unique reference for scientific contributions, such as journal papers, book chapters, or published presentations for meetings. The scientific community has recently extended the use of DOIs to data sets, such as the many Earth science data sets archived at the GES DISC. DOIs allow researchers, when publishing results, to provide unique citations for data sets used in their work. The DOI procedure gives credit to the efforts of the authors and maintainers of a data set, allows them to track where the data have been used, and also increases the accountability of the data set authors for the quality of the data set. The GES DISC initiated the process of creating DOIs for data sets in 2013, as part of a plan to eventually have DOI references for all of the data sets in its archive.
Data set DOI example:
big data book cover
Zhong Liu, Dana Ostrenga, William Teng, and Steven Kempler collaborated on a chapter for the book, Big Data: Techniques and Technologies in GeoInformatics, which will be published on February 21, 2014 by Taylor and Francis (CRC Press). The chapter describes services developed to visualize and analyze precipitation data products, such as data products from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP). These data products have been used to investigate floods, droughts, severe storms, and changing precipitation trends in many different areas of the world.
Liu, Z., D. Ostrenga, W. Teng, and S. Kempler (2013). Developing online visualization and analysis services for NASA satellite-derived global precipitation products during the Big Geospatial Data era.  Chapter 5 In: Big Data: Techniques and Technologies in Geoinformatics, Taylor & Francis, 89-114, publication date February 21, 2014.
banner for interface 2013 meeting
Christopher Lynnes, Chief Systems Engineer at the GES DISC, gave an invited presentation at Interface 2013, the Chapman University Symposium on Big Data and Analytics. His presentation was entitled “Giovanni-4: the next generation of an online tool for satellite data visualization, exploration and intercomparison,” describing the development process and goals for Giovanni-4 (see item #3 above for more information).
hurricane irene images for data recipe
In 2013, the GES DISC initiated the creation of data “recipes,” which give step-by-step instructions on how to perform many different manipulations of data acquired from the GES DISC. These recipes describe how to convert data from one format to another, how to use different software tools with the data, and how to obtain different types of data subsets. More recipes are in development, along with video recipe demonstrations. The image shows NetCDF files of subset TRMM 3-hourly precipitation data downloaded from the Simple Subset Wizard and visualized with the Panoply tool. The images show different locations of Hurricane Irene on the U.S. East Coast.
top 10 giovanni 2013 200+ ; used for uv exposure of skiers
The NASA Giovanni data analysis system, recognized as a simple and efficient way to view data and perform basic data analyses, has been used in an increasing number of studies reported in peer-reviewed scientific publications, since the appearance of the first such publication in 2004. In 2013, growth in the use of Giovanni continued, as shown by the 214 related publications. The research topics covered a remarkable spectrum of topics in the atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanographic sciences. A somewhat unique use of Giovanni utilized the Daily Erythemal Dose data product produced by the Ozone Measuring Instrument (OMI) mission, which indicates the exposure levels of humans to skin-damaging ultraviolet radiation. The researchers used this data product in Giovanni to estimate the amount of UV exposure received by youth skiers.
seawifs deep blue global aerosol climatology
An improved version of the Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) data set derived from atmospheric data acquired by the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) was released by the GES DISC in 2013.   The data set, created by lead investigator Dr. Christina Hsu, is used to estimate aerosol concentrations over both continents and oceans. Version 4 includes several improvements over the previously released versions, as described here. The image shows the climatology of SeaWiFS Deep Blue for the entire SeaWiFS mission from 1997-2011. “Deep Blue” refers to the use of the blue wavelength (412 nm) band of the SeaWiFS instrument to estimate aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere over bright land surfaces, such as deserts or snow-covered areas.

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Last updated: Feb 12, 2014 04:07 PM ET