Results for: Atmosphere

El Niño: Pacific Wind and Current Changes Bring Warm, Wild Weather

El Niño is one of the most important weather-producing phenomena on Earth. The changing ocean conditions disrupt weather patterns and marine life in the Pacific and around the world. Satellites are unraveling the many traits of this wild child of weather. Read more

A Celebration of Clouds: From Space, Earth Has an Elegant Atmosphere

Clouds can be a nuisance when scientists are trying to observe features on Earth's surface. But at other times, clouds are exactly what they want to see. These images highlight some of the more unusual and beautiful clouds observed in recent years from space. Read more

Notes from the Field: Observations of Aerosols Above Clouds and their Interactions (ORACLES)

Off the coast of Namibia in southern Africa, a near-permanent cloud-bank and a layer of airborne particles above it make the perfect natural laboratory to study the interactions of clouds, aerosols, and climate change. Read more

A Tale of Fire and Water: A NASA Scientist's Quest to Understand the Rain in Africa

Charles Ichoku wants to understand whether fires in sub-Saharan Africa are changing the timing and duration of rains. The viability of Lake Chad may depend on what his team finds. Read more

Notes from the Field: ATom 2016: World Survey of the Atmosphere

The Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission seeks to understand how short-lived greenhouse gases like ozone and methane contribute to climate change. NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory will fly from Alaska to the tip of South America, then north to Greenland to measure more than 200 gases and particles in the air and their interactions. Read more

Celebrating a Decade of CloudSat and Calipso

For a decade, the CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites have used radar and lidar to “slice” through clouds and plumes of atmospheric particles to gain a better understanding of the vertical structures of the ephemeral features. Read more

Methane Matters

The concentration of methane in the atmosphere has been fluctuating, mostly rising. The question is why. Scientists wonder if they have the right monitoring systems in place to answer that question adequately. Read more

Seeing Through the Smoky Pall: Observations from a Grim Indonesian Fire Season

Thick peat, El Niño weather, and economic development came together to produce prodigious fires and planet-warming emissions. Read more

Notes from the Field: Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX)

In the winter of 2015-16, scientists will be working to validate rain and snow measurements from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation of satellites by monitoring storm systems as they approach and traverse the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Read more

CYGNSS: Gearing Up to Look Down on Hurricanes

When launched in 2016, the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will be a constellation of eight micro-satellites that will make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in order to better understand the lifecycle of tropical cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes. Read more

Notes from the Field: Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) 2014

Follow along on the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) campaign. HS3 is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Read more

An Aura of Success

On the 10th anniversary of the launch of NASA's Aura spacecraft, we offer 10 examples of how the satellite has changed our view of dust, pollution, aerosols, and ozone in our atmosphere. Read more

A Clearer View of Hazy Skies

Industrialization has brought incredible societal advances and difficult pollution problems. From space, we can see skies clearing in some regions and darkening in others. The thin blue line of our atmosphere is still quite vulnerable. Read more

Notes from the Field: GPM in Japan, the Road to Launch

The joint NASA and JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement mission's Core Observatory has completed testing and is entering its final phase before launch in early 2014. The first step: traveling ~7300 miles to its launch site on Tanegashima Island, Japan. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog: Iowa Flood Studies

A field campaign called the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) is taking place in eastern Iowa from May 1 to June 15, 2013. The goal is to evaluate how well rainfall data from the upcoming Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission can be used for flood forecasting. GPM is scheduled for launch in early 2014. Read more

In a Warming World, the Storms May Be Fewer But Stronger

Extreme storms such as Hurricane Sandy, Snowmageddon, and the tornadoes of 2011 have prompted questions about whether climate change is affecting the intensity of weather. Satellites, statistics, and scientific models are teaching us a lot about what we know and don't know about severe storms. Read more

Earth at Night 2012

Scientists are using new images of Earth’s dark side to gain insight on human activity and poorly understood natural events. Read more

Out of the Blue and Into the Black

The night is nowhere near as dark as most of us think. In fact, the Earth is never really dark; it twinkles with lights from humans and nature. Read more

Looking Back on Ten Years of Aqua

Launched on May 4, 2002, NASA's Aqua satellite and its six instruments have provided a decade's worth of unprecedented views of our planet. Here are a few of our favorites. Read more

Top 11 from 2011

The most-visited images published in the Earth Observatory from 2011 are featured in this gallery. Read more

2011 Hurricane Season and NASA Research: An Interview with Scott Braun

With the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season approaching its peak, a NASA meteorologist explores the key questions in hurricane research. Read more

The Carbon Cycle

Carbon flows between the atmosphere, land, and ocean in a cycle that encompasses nearly all life and sets the thermostat for Earth's climate. By burning fossil fuels, people are changing the carbon cycle with far-reaching consequences. Read more

Earth Matters Blog

Earth is an amazing planet, and the one that matters most to us. Let's have a conversation about it. Read more

Heavy Rains and Dry Lands Don't Mix: Reflections on the 2010 Pakistan Flood

Unusual atmospheric conditions brought exceptional rain to Pakistan in the summer of 2010, causing the country's worst flooding in modern history. Read more

World of Change: Global Temperatures

The world is getting warmer, whatever the cause. According to an analysis by NASA scientists, the average global temperature has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975. Read more

Aerosols: Tiny Particles, Big Impact

Tiny aerosol particles can be found over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice sheets, and every ecosystem in between. They drift in the air from the stratosphere to the surface. Despite their small size, they have major impacts on our climate and our health. Read more

The Water Cycle

Landscape sculptor. Climate driver. Life supporter. Water is the most important molecule on our planet. Read more

Russian Firestorm: Finding a Fire Cloud from Space

NASA satellites help confirm that a strong firestorm fueled fires in western Russia and drew smoke high into the atmosphere in late July 2010. Read more

Notes from the Field Blog - Urban Aerosols: Who CARES?

Join us as NASA scientists aboard a B-200 aircraft cruise over California sampling urban pollution and other aerosols during the Carbonaceous Aerosol and Radiative Effects Study (CARES). Read more

Global Warming

Global warming is happening now, and scientists are confident that greenhouse gases are responsible. To understand what this means for humanity, it is necessary to understand what global warming is, how scientists know it's happening, and how they predict future climate. Read more

Notes from the Field blog: Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac)

Join us for the next six weeks as scientists share their experiences from the first science mission on the Global Hawk, NASA's new unmanned aircraft. Read more

Climate Q&A

From why global warming is a problem to whether increased solar activity could be behind it, this Q&A includes responses to common questions about climate change and global warming. Read more

World of Change: El Niño, La Niña, and Rainfall

For many people, El Niño and La Niña mean floods or drought, but the events are actually a warming or cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean that impacts rainfall. These sea surface temperature and rainfall anomaly images show the direct correlation between ocean temperatures and rainfall during El Niño and La Niña events. Read more

World of Change: Severe Storms

This collection of images featuring the strongest hurricane, cyclone, or typhoon from any ocean during each year of the past decade includes storms both famous—or infamous—and obscure. Read more

World of Change: Antarctic Ozone Hole

In the early 1980s, scientists began to realize that CFCs were creating a thin spot—a hole—in the ozone layer over Antarctica every spring. This series of satellite images shows the ozone hole on the day of its maximum depth each year from 1979 through 2015. Read more

An Ocean Breeze: Mapping Brazil’s Offshore Wind Power Potential

Searching for alternative sources of energy for his country, one student turned to a NASA satellite to assess the feasibility of offshore wind power in Southeast Brazil. Read more

Earth Perspectives

In 2008, as NASA celebrated its 50th anniversary, the Earth Observatory asked a number of Earth scientists what we have learned about our home planet by going into space. Read more

American Carbon: Vulcan Project Maps Nation's Fossil Fuel Emissions in Detail

The Vulcan Project maps when and where Americans burn fossil fuels. Read more

Cities at Night: The View from Space

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station capture nighttime photographs of city lights, spectacular evidence of humanity's existence, our distribution, and our ability to change our environment. Read more

Greenland's Ice Island Alarm

Global warming is shrinking the Greenland Ice Sheet by at least 150 billion metric tons a year. Read more

Science Blog - Expedition to Siberia

As Earth's average temperature rises, and most rapidly in the high latitudes, what is happening to the great northern forests of Siberia? Join scientists from NASA and Russia's Academy of Science on an expedition down the Kochechum River in north-central Siberia as they go in search of answers. Read more

The Amazon's Seasonal Secret

Satellite data detect previously unknown seasonal cycles in the leaf area of the Amazon Rainforest. Increasing leaf area during the sunny dry season may actually trigger the seasonal rains. Read more

Arctic Reflection: Clouds Replace Snow and Ice as Solar Reflector

Using satellite observations of sea ice and clouds, scientists discover that Earth’s poles are still effective reflectors for incoming sunlight. Read more

Urban Rain

Most city dwellers worry about what the weather will do to their city, but for meteorologist Marshall Shepherd, the real question is what are cities doing to the weather. Read more

Paleoclimatology: Understanding the Past to Predict the Future

Scientists use complicated climate models to predict how Earth's climate might change in the future. One of the best ways to test the reliability of such models is to see how well they recreate climates of the past. Read more

Hurricanes: The Greatest Storms on Earth

Few things in nature can compare to the destructive force of a hurricane. Called the greatest storm on Earth, a hurricane is capable of annihilating coastal areas with sustained winds of 155 mph or higher and intense areas of rainfall and a storm surge. In fact, during its life cycle a hurricane can expend as much energy as 10,000 nuclear bombs! Read more

Tracking Nature's Contribution to Pollution

Scientists combined models and satellite data to track the spread of pollutants from forest fires in Alaska and Canada in 2004. They discovered that fires can have a significant impact on air pollution far from the fires location. Read more


Questions from visitors to the Earth Observatory and answers from scientists. Read more

Paleoclimatology: The Ice Core Record

For six weeks every summer between 1989 and 1993, Alley and other scientists pushed columns of ice along the science assembly line, labeling and analyzing the snow for information about past climate Read more

Blue Marble Next Generation

12 months of high-resolution global true color satellite imagery. Read more

Cloudy with a Chance of Drizzle

By analyzing data from the MISR instrument, scientists discover that a unique type of cloud formation is much more prevalent than previously believed. Read more

Nimbus' 40th Anniversary

On August 28, 2004, NASA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Nimbus-1 Earth-observation satellite. Starting in 1964 and for the next twenty years, the Nimbus series of missions was the United States' primary research and development platform for satellite remote-sensing of the Earth. Read more

Deep Freeze and Sea Breeze: Changing Land and Weather in Florida

A regional climate model and NASA satellite data say land cover change in south Florida has created both hotter, drier summers, and more severe freezes in the winter. Read more

Paleoclimatology: The Oxygen Balance

Oxygen is one of the most significant keys to deciphering past climates. Read more

Cheyenne and Catarina: Breaking Records for Sailing and Storms

When the crew of the Cheyenne set out to break the round-the-world sailing record in March 2004, they would never have guessed what an unusual storm they would meet along the way. Read more

Terra Turns Five

In February 2000, NASA's Terra satellite began measuring Earth's vital signs with a combination of accuracy, precision, and resolution the world had never before seen. While the mission is still in the process of fulfilling its main science objectives, Terra's portfolio of achievements to date already marks the mission a resounding success. Read more

Enhancing Research and Education through Partnerships

Examples of student-scientist partnerships demonstrate important benefits and lessons learned for both groups. Read more

Polar Wind Data Blow New Life Into Forecasts

Where real-world weather observations are scarce, scientists are estimating winds by tracking the movement of clouds and water vapor between consecutive Terra and Aqua satellite images. In a new Earthsky podcast, atmospheric scientist Jeff Key talks about how the technique has improved forecasts and what will happen when these NASA missions reach their end. Read more

Aura: A Mission Dedicated to the Health of Earth's Atmosphere

On July 15, 2004 at 3:02 a.m., NASA launched the Aura satellite, the third flagship in a series of Earth-observing satellites designed to view Earth as a whole system, observe the net results of complex interactions within the climate system, and understand how the planet is changing in response to natural and human influences. Read more

A New IDEA in Air Quality Monitoring

NASA satellite data of regional haze allow EPA scientists to expand their focus from local to regional air quality monitoring and forecasting. Read more

Clouds are Cooler than Smoke

New NASA research shows that smoke from fires in the Amazon Basin inhibits clouds and exerts a warming influence on Earth's surface. Read more

Joanne Simpson

Joanne Simpson became the first woman Ph.D. meteorologist. She also pioneered studies of cloud models, hurricanes, weather modification, and guided the development of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. Read more

Will Runaway Water Warm the World?

As the Earth heats up more water will make its way into the atmosphere, trapping even heat near the surface. To predict how much temperatures could rise in the future, scientists are working to understand how much water could enter the atmosphere and how that might contribute to climate change. Read more

Tango in the Atmosphere: Ozone and Climate Change

Over recent decades the stratosphere has cooled while stratospheric ozone has decreased. Low temperatures could be causing further ozone depletion, which may delay recovery of the ozone layer. Read more

Smoke's Surprising Secret

A high school student in Texas working on a back yard science project made a surprising discovery in the spring of 2002. Intending to detect the presence of fungal spores and bacteria in globe-trotting dust, Sarah Mims instead discovered that fungal spores had hitched a ride across the Gulf of Mexico with smoke from fires in Central America. This young, amateur scientist's discovery could change the prevailing wisdom on the benefits of burning diseased crops or timber. Read more

Savanna Smog

Each August in southern Africa, literally thousands of people equipped with lighters or torches go out into the African savanna, a region dotted with villages and teaming with animals, and intentionally set the dry grasslands ablaze. Read more

Watching the World Go By

Space Station Science Officer Ed Lu describes what it is like to look at the Earth over the course of an orbit. His descriptions are accompanied by digital photographs of Earth he has taken and transmitted to the ground during his mission. Read more

Little Islands, Big Wake

The Hawaiian Islands interrupt the trade winds that blow across the Pacific Ocean, with far-reaching effects on ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Read more

Land Matters

Storm-related losses from the 1982-83 El Nino cost the state of California an estimated $2.2 billion. Fifteen years later, damages from the 1997-98 El Nino cost California only half that amount. Differences in storm intensity and duration accounted for some of the reduced costs, but other factors were also at work. Read more

Watching our Ozone Weather

Until about 30 years ago, atmospheric scientists believed that all of the ozone in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) intruded from the upper atmosphere (stratosphere), where it formed by the action of sunlight on oxygen molecules. Read more

Searching for Atlantic Rhythms?

All over the globe there are relationships between the conditions of the atmosphere and oceans that affect weather and climate at great distances. The North Atlantic Oscillation is one of these teleconnections, linking the temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean with winter weather in North America and Europe. Read more

A Delicate Balance: Signs of Change in the Tropics

While NASA climate scientists were reviewing radiation data emanating from the tropics simply to test existing notions, they uncovered a phenomenon no one expected. They found that progressively more thermal radiation has been escaping the atmosphere above the tropics and progressively less sunlight has been reflecting off of the clouds. Read more

Lightning Spies

In 1997, NASA launched the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. The LIS detects and maps the distribution and variability of cloud-to-cloud, intracloud, and cloud-to-ground lightning. Read more

Measuring Ozone from Space Shuttle Columbia

New remote-sensing technology called limb viewing allows observation of the atmosphere from the side rather than straight down. From that side view the layers of the atmosphere appear like layers in a cake, allowing instruments to see the lower layers of the stratosphere where most of the recently observed ozone change, like the ozone hole, occurs. Read more

Chemistry in the Sunlight

Ozone has proven to be among the most difficult air pollutants to control. To control ozone requires understanding its complex chemistry and how the chemical travels from one locality to another. Chemistry in the Sunlight explains basic aspects of ozone formation and provides a sample set of chemical reactions involved in ozone production. Read more

The Road to Recovery

A recent study in the Amazon rain forest shows that some types of logging may not negatively impact the carbon cycle as originally thought. Read more

Tracking Clouds

Tune in to the evening weather report on any given day, and you?ll no doubt see satellite images of clouds. For years, experts have used cloud observations to predict the weather, from forecasting extreme weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, to simply telling people whether they need to take an umbrella or sunscreen on their afternoon picnic. Read more

Dropping in on a Hurricane

By dropping small sensors into hurricanes from above, scientists are acquiring data at high altitudes that will help them better unde rstand the structure and dynamics of hurricanes. Read more

Teaching Old Data New Tricks

Researchers have discovered that scatterometer data could provide important information on a variety of other surfaces, such as forests and ice, which became the basis for global climate change study applications. Read more

CALIPSO: A Global Perspective of Clouds and Aerosols from Space

The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite mission helps scientists answer significant questions about climatic processes by providing new information on clouds and aerosols. Read more


Aqua carries six state-of-the-art instruments to observe the Earth's oceans, atmosphere, land, ice and snow covers, and vegetation, providing high measurement accuracy, spatial detail, and temporal frequency. This comprehensive approach enables scientists to study interactions among the many elements of the Earth system. Read more

NOAA-M Continues Polar-Orbiting Satellite Series

Since the 1960s, NASA has developed polar-orbiting operational environmental satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA-M, the latest NOAA spacecraft, was launched on June 24, 2002. Read more

Does the Earth Have an Iris Analog

Much like the iris in a human eye contracts to allow less light to pass through the pupil in a brightly lit environment, Lindzen suggests that the area covered by high cirrus clouds contracts to allow more heat to escape into outer space from a very warm environment. Read more

Arbiters of Energy

Clouds play a crucial role in regulating the balance of energy received by and emitted from the Earth, but scientists aren?t sure exactly what this role is. Read more

Scientist for a Day

Elementary and secondary students and teachers in the Midwestern U.S. collect snow and cloud data at their schools to help scientists validate satellite data in a global change research study. Read more

The Ozone We Breathe

Ozone in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) is toxic to human beings and many species of plants, causing harm without visible symptoms. The Ozone We Breathe focuses chiefly on the ozone's effects on human respiratory health and and the productivity of agricultural crops. Read more

Highways of a Global Traveler - Tracking Tropospheric Ozone

Ozone in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) is toxic to human beings and to many other living things that breathe it. After combining satellite observations with data-rich models that simulate the atmosphere’s chemistry and dynamics, scientists are finding tropospheric ozone in some unexpected places. Tropospheric ozone turns out to be an intercontinental traveler, crossing geographic and political boundaries. Read more

Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III) is a fourth-generation satellite instrument for observing the long-term health of the upper atmosphere, including the amounts of ozone, aerosols (suspended particles), and water vapor. Read more

Weather Forecasting Through the Ages

Only fifty years ago, weather forecasting was an art, derived from the inspired interpretation of data from a loose array of land-based observing stations, balloons, and aircraft. Since then it has evolved substantially, based on an array of satellite and other observations and sophisticated computer models simulating the atmosphere and sometimes additional elements of the Earth's climate system. The AIRS/AMSU/HSB combination on board the [soon to be launched] EOS Aqua satellite should further these advances, enabling more accurate predictions over longer periods. Read more

Snow Sleuths

Scientists use ground-based measurements to learn how snow looks from space. Read more

Research Satellites for Atmospheric Science, 1978-Present

NASA and its affiliated agencies and research institutions developed a series of research satellites that have enabled scientists to test new remote sensing technologies that have advanced scientific understanding of both chemical and physical changes in the atmosphere. Read more

Verner Suomi

Using a unique combination of determination, hard work, inspiration, and those freshman physics, Suomi became known as the "father of satellite meteorology." His research and inventions have radically improved forecasting and our understanding of global weather. Read more

Hurricane Field Studies

The Third Convection and Moisture Experiment (CAMEX3) has provided forecasters with a more realistic storm picture. Read more

Clouds in the Balance

In 1998, atmospheric scientists discovered a significant change in cloud vertical structure triggered by the strongest El Niño on record. Read more

A View From Above

International scientists with diverse backgrounds work together to better understand movement of carbon between the Earth's forests and atmosphere. Read more

Ultraviolet Radiation: How It Affects Life on Earth

Stratospheric ozone depletion due to human activities has resulted in an increase of ultraviolet radiation on the Earth's surface. The article describes some effects on human health, aquatic ecosystems, agricultural plants and other living things, and explains how much ultraviolet radiation we are currently getting and how we measure it. Read more

A Violent Sun Affects the Earth's Ozone

A new study confirms a long-held theory that large solar storms rain electrically charged particles down on Earth's atmosphere and deplete the upper-level ozone for weeks to months thereafter. New evidence from NASA and NOAA satellites is helping scientists better understand how man and nature both play a role in ozone loss. Read more

Reverberations of the Pacific Warm Pool

Over the past several decades, scientists have uncovered a number of El Nino-like climate anomalies across the globe. One of the most recent to be discovered takes place in the Indo-Pacific warm pool. This body of water, which spans the western waters of the equatorial Pacific to the eastern Indian Ocean, holds the warmest seawaters in the world. Over a period of roughly two decades, the warm pool's average annual temperatures increase and then decrease like a beacon. These oscillations may affect the climate in regions as far away as the southern United States and may be powerful enough to broaden the extent of El Nino. Read more

In the Eyewall of the Storm

Scientists have sought a greater understanding of the hurricane intensification process to improve forecasting techniques and decrease the radius of coastal evacuations. A new study using CAMEX-3 hurricane data reveals the role of "hot towers" in increasing a storm's fury. Read more

Astronauts Photograph Mount Pinatubo

In early 1991, Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano north of Manila on the Philippine island of Luzon, had been dormant for more than 500 years. Few geologists would have guessed that it would produce one of the world's most explosive eruptions in the twentieth century. Read more

Watching Plants Dance to the Rhythms of the Ocean

NASA scientists developed a new data set that enables them to observe the teleconnections between sea surface temperature anomalies and patterns of plant growth on a global scale. Read more

From the Dust Bowl to the Sahel

Severe drought and poor soil conversation practices contribute to desertification. Read more

Forecasting Fury

Experts predict a period of elevated storm activity during the next 15 years. However, data from the SeaWinds instrument aboard NASA's QuikSCAT satellite could allow researchers to detect potential hurricanes up to two days earlier than with traditional forecasting methods. Read more

Biomass Burning

Biomass burning is the burning of living and dead vegetation, including both human-initiated burning for land clearing, and burning induced by lightning and other natural sources. Researchers with the Biomass Burning Project at NASA Langley Research Center are seeking to understand the impact that biomass burning has on the Earth's atmosphere and climate. Read more

Seeing into the Heart of a Hurricane

NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission helps scientist study hurricanes and predict their paths by looking inside the storms. Read more

Volcanoes and Climate Change

Volcanic aerosols play a significant role in driving Earth's climate. Read more

Vilhelm Bjerknes

Vilhelm Bjerknes is considered by many to be one of the founders of modern meteorology and weather forecasting. Read more

Changing Our Weather One Smokestack at a Time

Daniel Rosenfeld and a team of scientists from the Hebrew University of Israel recently discovered that aerosol particles from factories and power plants increase the number of droplets in clouds they pollute. In doing so, the pollutants create brighter clouds that retain their water and do not produce rain. Read more

Stars, Clouds, Crops

Stars' brightness influences planting practices in the Andes. Read more

Shadows of Doubt

Understanding the complex interplay between clouds and radiation is critical for developing general circulation models that precisely represent the global climate. Read more

Roger Revelle

Roger Revelle was one of the world's most articulate spokesmen for science and an early predictor of global warming. Read more

Carbon Conundrum

Paradoxically, an increase in global temperature may both increase and decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide. The key is timing. Read more

Fire and Ice

The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo led to new techniques for detecting short-term climate variation. Read more

On a Clear Day

Researchers clarified the issues encountered in modeling clear-sky shortwave radiation by assembling a long-term data set of cloud-free days to test the models. Read more

Blanket of Clouds

Recent studies indicate that clouds absorb significantly more shortwave radiation than previously thought. Read more

Questioning Convection

How well do climate models work? Read more

Outer Limits

How does the upper atmosphere influence Earth's climate? Read more

Hurricane Floyd's Lasting Legacy - Introduction

Hurricane Floyd struck eastern North Carolina on September 15, 1999. In it's wake the storm left polluted floodwaters and sediment-choked rivers. Read more

Critical Chemistry

Researchers map ozone's global distribution using data from the Global Tropospheric Experiment. Read more

Second Guessing Mother Nature: Forecasting the Surprise Snow of January 2000

Overnight from January 24–25, 2000 residents of Washington, DC were hit with a surprise snowstorm. Despite this misstep, weather forecasts are now more accurate than ever. Read more

Global Temperature Trends - Continued Global Warmth in 1999

Global surface temperatures in 1999 fell back from the record setting high level of 1998, which was the warmest year in the period of instrumental data. Read more

Svante Arrhenius

Svante Arrhenius was the first person to investigate the effect that doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide would have on global climate. Read more

El Nino's Extended Family Introduction

Cyclic patterns in the ocean and atmosphere shape global weather. Read more

Global Fire Monitoring

Forest fires, brush fires, and slash and burn agriculture—types of biomass burning—are a significant force for environmental change. Fires may play an important role in climate change, emitting both greenhouse gases and smoke particles into the atmosphere. Read more

John Tyndall

In 1859, John Tyndall's experiments showed that even in small quantities, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and ozone absorbed much more heat than the rest of the atmosphere. Read more

Data in a Flash

A new global change research tool detects lightning day and night. Read more

Every Cloud Has a Filthy Lining

Sulfur dioxide in the exhaust from ship engines creates bright clouds. Read more

Clouds in a Clear Sky

Scientists have detected a nearly invisible cloud layer that may explain dryness in the stratosphere. Read more

Reckoning with Winds

New wind data reveal typhoon transitions to mid-latitude storms and ocean monsoon breeding grounds. Read more

Introduction to Climate Modeling

In their ongoing endeavor to understand our planet as a whole system, Earth scientists are increasingly using computer models to help them visualize the causes and effects of climate and environmental change. These models serve as predictive tools that allow scientists to ask “what if...,” and have computers give them answers. Read more


A relatively unstable molecule that represents a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, ozone is crucial for life on Earth. Depending on where ozone resides, it can protect or harm life. Read more


QuikSCAT provides climatologists, meteorologists and oceanographers with daily, detailed snapshots of the winds swirling above the world’s oceans. Read more

Should We Talk About the Weather? Improving Global Forecasts with BOREAS Research

One goal of of NASA’s Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) is to understand how changes in air temperature, moisture and carbon dioxide levels may impact the boreal ecosystem and what role the boreal forest plays in global-scale climate changes. Read more

Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), is the first mission dedicated to measuring tropical and subtropical rainfall through microwave and visible infrared sensors, and includes the first spaceborne rain radar. Read more

Changing Global Cloudiness

Clouds are one of the most obvious and influential features of Earth’s climate system. They are also one of its most variable components. The natural diversity and variability of clouds has intrigued and challenged researchers for centuries. Read more

La Niña Fact Sheet

The phenomenon known as El Niño is sometimes reverses, leading to strong trade winds, colder than normal water off the coast of Peru, and warmer than normal water near Australia. This cold counterpart to El Niño is known as La Niña. Read more

Ocean and Climate Fact Sheet

The Earth’s ocean and atmosphere are locked in an embrace. As one changes, so does the other. Read more

Clouds & Radiation Fact Sheet

The study of clouds, where they occur, and their characteristics, plays a key role in the understanding of climate change. Low, thick clouds reflect solar radiation and cool the Earth's surface. High, thin clouds transmit incoming solar radiation and also trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the Earth, warming the surface. Read more

Terra Spacecraft Fact Sheet

On December 18, 1999, NASA launched a new flagship, the Terra satellite, to begin collecting a new 18-year global data set on which to base future scientific investigations about our complex home planet. Read more