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Earth Information Center (EIC)
For more than 50 years, NASA satellites have provided data on Earth's land, water, air, temperature, and climate. The Earth Information Center (EIC) allows visitors to see how our planet is changing in six key areas: sea level rise and coastal impacts, health and air quality, wildfires, greenhouse gases, sustainable energy, and agriculture. This information supports decision makers in developing the tools they need to mitigate, adapt, and respond to climate change.
Drawing from insight provided by NASA centers from coast to coast, and in close coordination with other government agencies, industry partners and communities, the Earth Information Center delivers critical data directly into the hands of people in ways that they can immediately use.
Through the Earth Information Center discover how NASA sees the unseen and consider why this information matters to us all.
This gallery consists of content used in the hyperwall display in the Earth Information Center at NASA Headquarters.
EIC Beauty Pieces
This visualization depicts a global view of forest height data collected by the GEDI instrument aboard the International Space Station. Brown and dark green represent shorter vegetation. Bright green and white represent taller vegetation. This visualization uses data collected between April 2019 and April 2020. Height is exaggerated to depict variation at this scale.Coming soon to our YouTube channel. || The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) produces high resolution laser ranging observations of the 3D structure of the Earth. GEDI’s precise measurements of forest canopy height, canopy vertical structure, and surface elevation greatly advance our ability to characterize important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat. GEDI’s data on surface structure are also of immense value for weather forecasting, forest management, glacier and snowpack monitoring, and the generation of more accurate digital elevation models. GEDI provides the missing piece – 3D structure – in NASA’s observational assets which enables us to better understand how the Earth behaves as a system, and guides the actions we can take to sustain critical resources. The GEDI instrument is a geodetic-class, light detection and ranging (lidar) laser system comprised of 3 lasers that produce 8 parallel tracks of observations. Each laser fires 242 times per second and illuminates a 25 m spot (a footprint) on the surface over which 3D structure is measured. Each footprint is separated by 60 m along track, with an across-track distance of about 600 m between each of the 8 tracks. GEDI expected to produce about 10 billion cloud-free observations during its nominal 24-month mission length.To learn more, visit the GEDI webpage ||
This visualization shows the spread of the Dixie fire between July 14 and October 22, 2021, updated every 12 hours based on new satellite active fire detections. The yellow outlines track the position of the active fire lines for the last 60 hours, with the latest location of the fire front in the brightest shade of yellow. The red points show the location of active fire detections, while the grey region shows the estimated total area burned. The graph shows the cumulative burned area in square kilometers.Coming soon to our YouTube channel. ||
Narrated atmospheric rivers movieComing soon to our YouTube channel. || Features in Earth’s atmosphere, spawned by the heat of the Sun and the rotation of the Earth, transport water and energy around the globe. Clouds and precipitation shown here are from NASA’s MERRA-2 reanalysis, a retrospective blend of a weather model and conventional and satellite observations.Within the mid-latitudes, winds move clouds from west to east. Within the tropics easterly trade winds converge along the equator to create a moisture rich cluster of clouds, convection, and precipitation called the intertropical convergence zone, or ITCZ. Disturbances in its flow transport immense amounts of moisture and energy from the tropics to the poles. Studies have shown that atmospheric rivers account for the vast majority of the poleward transport of water vapor.The American Meteorological Society defines an atmospheric river as “a long, narrow, and transient corridor of strong horizontal water vapor transport that is typically associated with a low-level jet stream ahead of the cold front of an extratropical cyclone.” A common measure for the strength of an atmospheric river is the integrated water vapor transport, or the amount of moisture that is moved from one place to another by the flow of the atmosphere. The blue shading shown here gives a three-dimensional view of the water vapor transport. Tropical moisture is pulled in from the ITCZ and in this example, converges with other moisture sources to form an atmospheric river. The feature then travels towards the west coast of the United States as a sub-class of atmospheric rivers commonly referred to as the “pineapple express” due to its origin near Hawai’i.The atmospheric river is guided by the semi-permanent sub-tropical high pressure off the coast of California and the Baja Peninsula as well as the Aleutian low in the Gulf of Alaska. The pressure gradient between the clockwise flow of the Californian high and the counterclockwise flow of the Aleutian low funnel the atmospheric moisture into a narrow corridor. The more intense the pressure gradient is, the stronger the winds are that transport the water vapor. Extreme rainfall has also been associated with the more intense gradients.Much of the moisture stays close to the surface but the rising motion of the low pressure to the north results in the air cooling, condensing the water vapor into a liquid. Precipitation over the ocean falls along the feature’s cold front on its northern side.Another way that air can rise and condense into precipitation is through orographic lift. When air encounters the mountains along the west coast of the United States, it is forced upwards. The rising air becomes saturated, causing rain and snow to fall, particularly on the windward side of the mountain. The flow of air continues eastward, depleted of its moisture.The precipitation that falls because of atmospheric rivers is important for the hydrologic cycle in the western United States. The winter buildup of the snowpack provides valuable freshwater resources. Despite being beneficial at times, atmospheric river induced precipitation can also be destructive. The occurrence of extreme atmospheric river precipitation events, such as the one that occurred in this example, can result in widespread flooding and mudslides.Atmospheric rivers are not unique to the west coast of North America and occur around the globe, including Europe, New Zealand, the Middle East, Greenland, and Antarctica. The study of global phenomenon such as atmospheric rivers over the past four decades is made possible through NASA’s MERRA-2 reanalysis, a spatially and temporally consistent blend of satellite and conventional observations with a numerical model. With a dataset that provides hourly information around the globe since 1980, there is still much that can be learned about Earth’s atmosphere and the transport of water and energy around the globe. ||
The Earth Information Center is a physical and virtual space that showcases NASA Earth information and how our partners and everyday people use Earth observations to solve our planet’s most pressing issues. It provides a view of our home planet down to local neighborhoods, from outer space. It shows how our planet is changing and provides easy-to-use information and resources we need to mitigate, adapt, and respond to climate change. The Earth Information Center at NASA’s headquarters building is a physical space that includes various parts: an Earth Pulse sculpture of lights showing NASA Earth data, a Hyperwall that showcases awe-inspiring visualizations and stories told by people using NASA Earth data, the Space for Earth immersive experience surrounding you with science, and an Eyes on Earth interactive kiosk.Images of the June 21, 2023 ribbon cutting ceremony can be found on the NASA Flickr account ||