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Earth Science

Out of the Warehouse: Climate Researchers Rescue Long-Lost Satellite Images 136

Posted by timothy
from the look-for-barry-goldwater's-car dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Once stashed in warehouses in Maryland and North Carolina, images and video captured from orbit by some of NASA's first environmental satellites in the mid-1960s are now yielding a trove of scientific data. The Nimbus satellites, originally intended to monitor Earth's clouds in visible and infrared wavelengths, also would have captured images of sea ice, researchers at the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center realized when they heard about the long-lost film canisters in 2009. After acquiring the film—and then tracking down the proper equipment to read and digitize its 16-shades-of-gray images, which had been taken once every 90 seconds or so—the team set about scanning and then stitching the images together using sophisticated software. So far, more than 250,000 images have been made public, including the first image taken by Nimbus-1 on 31 August 1964, of an area near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Besides yielding a wealth of sea ice data, the data recovery project, which will end early next year, could also be used to extend satellite records of deforestation and sea surface temperatures."
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Out of the Warehouse: Climate Researchers Rescue Long-Lost Satellite Images

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:13PM (#47818629) Journal
    This was the original bill [nccoast.org] they were circulating. See the section 2e that mandates the use of linear interpolation? Limits the data set to post 1900? They were dropped only after getting nationwide attention.

    These legislators have been slipping such clauses into the law all the time, and this time they got caught. Otherwise they would have happily forced the value of pi to be 3.0 exact.

    Do you have problems with the legislators decreeing what interpolation technique the scientists must use? Limiting the data sets they might use? Or do you modify the bill after getting caught with hands in the cookie jar and then whip up prodigal quantities of false outrage?

  • by ljw1004 (764174) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @02:25PM (#47819309)

    Total bullshit on the part of the media... The first version of the bill was the one that the news picked up and, well, just plain made up bald-faced lies about.
    Here it is:


    "Historic rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios
    of accelerated rates of sea-level rise unless such rates are from statistically significant,
    peer-reviewed data and are consistent with historic trends."

    Clovis, how do you reconcile the "first version" text you quoted with this one? http://www.nccoast.org/uploads... [nccoast.org]

    These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time
    period following the year 1900. Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate
    future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.

    This version of the text totally reverses your conclusions. Was this "linear-only" text earlier than the one you quoted? Or did it come afterwards, indicating that the legislative draft actually got worse over time?

  • by Garfong (1815272) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @03:21PM (#47819945)

    Or another way of thinking of it is you're using the measured data to estimate a hidden variable which is what you're really interested in. E.g. in this case you have a number of measurements near cities, and you're trying to estimate the global/wide-area average temperature. So you apply a correction to get from city temperature to an estimate of the wide-area average temperature.

    (This is mostly in response to GP).

  • by nadaou (535365) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:13PM (#47821489) Homepage

    I happen to live near one of the main weather stations which was caught up in that FOX News brouhaha and happen to know about the local history. tl;dr as usual, the whole story was all a load of vaporous bullshit. And apparently it worked since you took the bait.

    One hundred years ago the local weather station was established outside the harbor master's office down by the docks (and the water). The city grew up and forty years ago or so the weather station was moved 500 feet up a hill to outside the local observatory, which is surrounded by forest.

    Moving a temperature sensor away from a large body of water, out of a "heat island" of now-paved urban roads, out of a canyon of concrete and glass buildings, and to a higher elevation will all change the readings of the sensor. If you want to keep a continuous record before and after moving, before and after various construction projects and re-roofing nearby, and before and after population changes, you're going to have to figure out and apply a correction factor for each of these things.

    There is nothing particularly unusual about our local weather station's story which hasn't been repeated in most cities around the world. So it is not surprising that noisy long term time series need to be cleaned up before being fed into sensitive predictive models. It would be dishonest not to if you know there was a change in the sampling history which required it.

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