Sporting a current total of 115 peer-reviewed publications in 2010 – with seven more already published in 2011 – the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) pioneering Giovanni online data analysis system is again demonstrating that it can be utilized for a wide variety of geoscience research. The total number of research publications that have utilized Giovanni for data analysis and graphic data displays, since its inception in 2004, now stands at 301.
Just as the appearance of several zeroes on an odometer indicates a significant milestone, the 300 publication mark indicates that research use of Giovanni continues at an impressive rate. More than numbers, the variety of publication topics in this most recent compendium shows how the system can get Earth remote-sensing data from NASA satellite instruments into the minds and hands and computers of researchers, allowing them to augment and expand their investigative insights.
While it isn't possible to actually determine which of the new publications was number 300, our interest was sparked by a paper authored by Dr. Keri Nicoll of the University of Reading, UK, with co-authors R. Giles Harrison and Zbigniew J. Ulanowski, entitled "Observations of Sahara dust layer electrification," published in Environmental Research Letters. It turns out that this paper addressed a desert dust mystery – how desert dust aerosol layers allow radiant energy to pass through them. The electric charge on the dust particles apparently causes them to clump together, affecting the energy transmission properties of the dust in the atmosphere. Dr. Nicoll's research utilized balloon measurements of dust high in the atmosphere, the first time this had ever been done. Giovanni was used to characterize Saharan dust concentrations in the atmosphere during the study period near the Cape Verde Islands, where the balloons were launched. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aerosol optical depth product indicated where dust concentrations were highest in the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the northwestern coast of Africa.
Giovanni was also used to investigate blue whale habitat off Australia (Gill et al. in Marine Ecology Progress Series), which seems fitting because another recent research publication examined blue shark habitats off of South America. The Giovanni publication list also introduced us to the term sodar, which stands for SOnic Detection And Ranging – these instruments are also called wind profilers. Latha and Murthy used Doppler sodar to examine the boundary layer signatures of consecutive thunderstorms over western India.
Here are some other diverse research topics in the new publications added to the Giovanni list:
- Megacities as air pollution "hotspots" around the eastern Mediterranean (Kanakidou et al.)
- The foraging patterns of diving seabirds (Masello et al.)
- Land and marine ecosystem interactions in the Black Sea coastal zone (Kushnir et al.)
- The time evolution of phytoplankton size spectra (Roy et al.)
Thus, Giovanni enters 2011 during a time of floods and blizzards, on a backdrop of climate change, as a preeminent tool in the scientific toolkit for the investigation of Earth's multitude of geophysical phenomena.
The Giovanni home page: http://giovanni.gsfc.nasa.gov