In praise of NASA's Earth Observatory

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgLet me now sing the praises of NASA's Earth Observatory, a phenomenal web-based public education resource that is celebrating its 10th birthday today. Every day for the past decade, NASA has been uploading spectacular remote sensing images and astronaut photographs and accompanying them with clearly written, jargon-free but scientifically accurate explanations of the pictured phenomena. The Earth Observatory is one of my favorite web destinations, and I get their weekly email newsletter, and follow them on twitter. (Follow me!)

On numerous occasions, I've used Earth Observatory images to illustrate concepts in my classes, or show how current events (floods, droughts, fires, severe weather, volcanoes, etc.) relate to topics we are studying. (Lately, the Boston Globe's Big Picture feature has been adding some nice land-based photo content to my courses as well.) I'm particularly a fan of The Earth Observatory's picture pairs, which illustrate before and after effects of things like floods and urbanization.

In the weeks leading up to the 10th birthday, the Earth Observatory asked readers to vote on their favorite images, and I'm pleased that the one I voted for made it into the top 10. The image below shows cyclonic low pressure systems of south of Iceland. (larger image and explanation here). These swirling low pressure systems are the features that dominate weather in midlatitude regions of the world. (More info here.)

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And for the next few days, the Earth Observatory will be featuring pictures showing how parts of the world have changed in the past decade. Today's images show the spectacular urbanization of Dubai (click here for a animation of 10 years of images.) In coming days, I'm looking forward to images of the recovery of Mesopotamian marshes and water levels in Lake Powell.

I hope I've convinced you that NASA's Earth Observatory is worth checking out. I'm looking forward to the next 10 years of incredible imagery.

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Hey, I used to make some of those images in grad school! What a great place to do research.

Thanks for the info. I just signed up my work email, because I need some occasional awesome imagery to compensate for the microscopy.

Thanks for sharing - that pic is very cool.