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Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center notes “Top Ten” achievements for 2012

MEaSUREs data, online workshop, Giovanni-4 highlighted a busy year

Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center notes “Top Ten” achievements for 2012

The “Top Ten” Highlights of 2012 demonstrate how the NASA GES DISC provides the global research community with a wide variety of data services and strives to constantly improve data access and data usability.

Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center notes “Top Ten” achievements for 2012


It is a common practice at the beginning of a calendar year to look back at the previous year of an organization’s activities, and to check off some of the more noteworthy achievements. The staff of the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) recently reviewed what had been accomplished during 2012, and compiled a list of its “Top Ten” achievements for the year. The order in which the achievements are listed does not indicate their relative importance – the GES DISC activities encompass a wide spectrum of services to the science data user community, and, thus, each of these achievements (listed or not) is important to the ultimate goal of serving the NASA science community.
Here's the list (click the link to go to the descriptive summary):
  1. More MEaSURES data sets available at the GES DISC
  2. Additional data sets demonstrate the breadth of the GES DISC archive
  3. Giovanni-4 debuts with Aerosol Express
  4. Numerous presentations at the 2012 Fall American Geophysical Union Meeting
  5. HIRDLS long-term data preservation effort
  6. 2012 Gregory G. Leptoukh Online Giovanni Workshop was a success
  7. NASA ACCESS Project, “Bridging the Digital Divide,” begins
  8. Annual count of 2012 publications of research using Giovanni sets a high mark
  9. Lots and lots of LDAS data
  10. Aerostat gets brainier
The Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) program provides funds for researchers to analyze remotely-sensed data sets, process them with new algorithms, and ultimately develop consistent regional and global Earth System Data Records (ESDRs). The GES DISC is the designated archive for several MEaSUREs data sets.
In 2012, the GES DISC added data sets from;
(1) Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), created by the “Consistent Long-Term Aerosol Data Records over Land and Ocean from SeaWIFS” project [Christina Hsu];
(2) upper atmosphere chemistry data from the “Global Ozone Chemistry and Related trace gas Data Records for the Stratosphere (GOZCARDS)” project [Lucien Froidevaux ]
(3) Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Radiometer (SBUV) v8.6 ozone data from the “Long Term Multi-Sensor Ozone Data Record” project (Rich McPeters);
(4) “Water Vapor with Cloud Climatology” data (Eric Fetzer); and
(5) Version 3 of the “Goddard Satellite-based Surface Turbulent Fluxes (GSSTF) Data Set for Global Water and Energy Cycle Research” (GSSTF3).
(The latter project is headed by Chung-Lin Shie, who also joined the GES DISC as Project Scientist in 2012.) The GES DISC is also currently releasing and Lambert-Equivalent Reflectivities (LER)  products from the “Reflectivity Since 1979 from Multiple Satellites” project (Jay Herman).
MEaSUREs data are not the only data that were added to the GES DISC system this year. Other data sets included upper atmospheric chemistry, rainfall climatologies, reanalysis meteorological data, and ocean color climatologies:
  • Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) Near-Real-Time data
  • New data products from the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) project
  • Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) composite climatology data
  • Version 7 of the TRMM Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) data set
  • New NASA Ocean Biogeochemical Model (NOBM) data in Giovanni
  • MODIS-Aqua ocean color climatology data, 2002-2012, in Giovanni
Aerosol Express, a prototype version of Giovanni-4, the next generation of NASA’s online analysis and visualization tool, was made available in 2012. Aerosol Express features atmospheric aerosol variables and a subset of Giovanni services. A new service, the Interactive Scatter Plot, was also part of Aerosol Express.
A total of fifteen presentations at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) were given by GES DISC staff members as first authors. Staff were co-authors on several other presentations at the meeting, including one describing a collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a Multi-Mission Observation Operator (M2O2) that enables the correct use of data from several missions in data assimilation models. Suhung Shen gave a public lecture on Giovanni at the NASA exhibition booth at the meeting. The meeting was highlighted by the inaugural Leptoukh Lecture on data informatics, given by GES DISC Chief Engineer, Chris Lynnes, in honor of Gregory G. Leptoukh, a GES DISC colleague who had made significant contributions to the field and who had suddenly passed away on January 12, 2012.
The GES DISC has been the designated archive for long-term data preservation of data from the High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS). HIRDLS is an instrument on the NASA Aura satellite, which was launched in 2004. The goal of the long-term data preservation effort is to maintain the data securely, along with all relevant documentation and the algorithms used to process the data, so that, in the future, researchers will be able to use the data effectively to both reproduce and build on the scientific results of their predecessors.
In September, researchers from the around the world convened electronically to honor Greg Leptoukh and to share the results of research conducted with one of his primary interests, the Giovanni data analysis system. The online format allowed scientists from several countries to give 25 presentations on research that had used Giovanni and the data it provided, with participants observing the presentations and reading the accompanying narration in a chat box. The workshop concluded with a roundtable on the use of Giovanni in earth science and environmental science education.
William Teng of the NASA GES DISC is the Principal Investigator of the NASA ACCESS Project "Bridging the Digital Divide between Discrete and Continuous Space-Time Array Data to Enhance the Accessibility to and Usability of NASA Earth Sciences Data for the Hydrological Community,” which commenced in 2012. A longstanding and significant "Digital Divide" in data representation exists between the field of hydrology and the fields of climatology and meteorology. Typically, in hydrology, earth surface features are expressed as discrete spatial objects such as watersheds, river reaches, and point observation sites; and time-varying data are contained in time-series associated with these spatial objects. Long-time histories of data may be associated with a single point or feature in space. In meteorology and climatology, remotely-sensed observations and weather and climate model information are expressed as continuous spatial fields, with data sequenced in time from one data file to the next. The main goal of the project is to bridge this Divide.
At the end of the year 2012, the GES DISC updated the count of peer-reviewed science journal publications in which the Giovanni system had been utilized. This compilation of scientific use of Giovanni has been performed every year since 2004, and, with only one exception, the publication count in each succeeding year has shown an increase. The final count for 2012 of 184 publications indicated an increase of Giovanni usage by approximately a paper a month, compared to 2011.
One of the GES DISC’s ongoing collaborations is with GSFC’s Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, which provides both the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) and the Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS) hydrology data. In 2012, several new data sets were received or updated, including the following:
  • Hourly NLDAS-2 Noah model data
  • Monthly NLDAS-1 (Forcing) data
  • NLDAS-2 (Primary Forcing, Secondary Forcing, Mosaic model, and Noah model) data products
  • 3-hourly and monthly 1.0 x 1.0 degree GLDAS Version 2.0 data products
The Aerostat system, which provides an online portal to compare surface-based aerosol observations from AERONET with remotely-sensed aerosol data, added a new wrinkle this year. For the first time, the GES DISC began running a neural network algorithm to provide on-the-fly bias adjustment for atmospheric aerosol data.

Caption guide to the NASA GES DISC “Top Ten” Highlights of 2012 (clockwise from top left):
1.       The Hydrologic Cycle: The “Bridging the Digital Divide” NASA ACCESS project aims to make remote-sensing data more useful to the hydrologic science community.
2.       Neural network technology now provides on-the-fly bias adjustment for atmospheric aerosol data in AeroStat, typified by a Saharan dust storm observed by MODIS.
3.       Toxic cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie were the subject of a 2012 publication that used the Giovanni system.
4.       The GES DISC is leading the long-term data preservation effort of data from the High Resolution Dynamic Limb Sounder (HIRDLS).
5.       A new data set at the GES DISC in 2012 was near-real-time data from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) on the Aura satellite.
6.       Aerosol Express is a new data portal previewing features of the Giovanni-4 data system.
7.       One of the new MEaSUREs data sets at the GES DISC in 2012 is from the GOZCARDS project.
8.       Many GES DISC staff members gave presentations at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. This meeting featured the first Leptoukh Lecture on Data Informatics, an annual lecture in honor of Gregory Leptoukh (pictured, bottom left).
9.       In September, the 2012 Gregory G. Leptoukh Online Giovanni Workshop allowed researchers from around the world to share research they had conducted with the aid of the Giovanni data system.
10.   The GES DISC added several data sets from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) and the Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS) in 2012.

Article and graphic image by James Acker. Editing by Bill Teng.  Web formatting by James Acker.
The GES DISC is a NASA earth science data center, part of the NASA Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project.
Image credits: Hydrologic Cycle: NASA GSFC. Dust storm: NASA MODIS Project. Lake Erie: NASA MODIS Project and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  MLS Ozone plot: NASA Aura Mission. The brain sketch is public use clip-art from
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Last updated: Mar 04, 2013 05:33 PM ET