Satellite information can now be gathered frequently enough to provide, as in a movie, a view of the complex and dynamic nature of the Earth system.

These animations, which show actual satellite data and are not cartoons or drawings, show how space observations now enable quantitative measurements of properties such as temperature, concentrations of atmospheric gases, and the exact elevation of land and ocean.

Atmospheric Composition

From tracking the air-quality impacts of wildfires to monitoring the size of the ozone hole, satellites measure many chemical properties of Earth’s atmosphere. From space, we can understand fires in ways that are impossible from the ground. Earth-observing satellites capture the significant impact of fires on our planet. In this animation of fires around the …

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Satellites help scientists observe biological processes around the globe, such as the greening of terrestrial vegetation in the spring or blooms of aquatic organisms in the ocean. The SeaWiFS instrument aboard the OrbView-2 spacecraft has collected data that are revolutionizing our understanding of how our home planet lives and breathes. These animations show seasonal changes …

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Collapse of the Larsen Ice Shelf


Satellites help scientists study the areas of Earth covered by ice and snow. Collapse of the Larsen Ice Shelf in western Antarctica, January-March 2002. Two thousand square kilometers of the Larsen Ice Shelf disintegrated in just 2 days. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado This animation shows the global advance and …

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Measurements from satellites shed light on ocean circulation patterns and changes in sea surface temperature. A narrated visualization of the 1997 El Ni&ndilde;o, showing the effects of El Ni&ndilde;o through animations. Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio Sea surface temperature around the globe, 1993-2004. Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Satellites track wind, water, and other atmospheric variables to gain insights on weather patterns and improve predictions. This animation shows a sequence of GOES images of Hurricane Bonnie, followed by a fly-in to the hurricane showing the three-dimensional structure of the precipitation as measured by the Precipitation Radar instrument on TRMM on August 22, 1998. …

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