Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Using Thermal Satellite Data to Predict Famines

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Image 1: The first thermal images received from ASTER sensor on the Terra satellite of Ethiopia, 15 years ago.  Thermal images like this are what Senay uses to monitor crop health in Ethiopia.  
  
Gabriel Senay is a Research Physical Scientist with the US Geological Survey.  He has developed a way to use thermal data from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, which record Earth's temperature for every square kilometer daily, along with historical temperature data from NOAA and the University of California at Berkeley.  
In the past scientists have used a land's greenness to monitor the health of vegetation in an area.  The problem with using greenness is that vegetation can stay green for weeks even after the crops have become stressed and begun dying.