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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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  • warehouse (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:09PM (#47817993)

    is this from Warehouse 13?

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:10PM (#47818013) Homepage Journal

    I read this article earlier.
    Here's the things people are going to fixate on, without having near enough data actually genuinely analyze them.

    The article states that Antarctic Ice was way larger in are in 1964 than it is today(or was in 1972, the until-now earliest satellite data date)
    And the deniers are going to fixate on the fact that there were holes in the ice.

    And since there's not a lick of expert analysis vis-a-vis the implications for climate change involved there, I can't bring myself to care, what some people on slashdot are going to conclude without the numbers.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by TemporalBeing (803363)

      I read this article earlier. Here's the things people are going to fixate on, without having near enough data actually genuinely analyze them.

      The article states that Antarctic Ice was way larger in are in 1964 than it is today(or was in 1972, the until-now earliest satellite data date) And the deniers are going to fixate on the fact that there were holes in the ice.

      And since there's not a lick of expert analysis vis-a-vis the implications for climate change involved there, I can't bring myself to care, what some people on slashdot are going to conclude without the numbers.

      Not to mention that if it doesn't go for how the AGW claimers want, then they'll just say the sensors were not accurate enough and write it off with the other side will point to the data as showing no AGW issues.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        Not likely since AGW is based on science, and scientific method. Where as deniers are just a bunch of dolts with no science behind them. Ask yourself this: How come AGW deniers never talk about the actual science?
        They make post like you do: No evidence, no data, every scientist, every agency, every competing country are all in some conspiracy and only the enlightened few* can see 'The Truth!'

        *get over yourself already

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:50PM (#47818441)

          This isn't just flamebait. http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by rubycodez (864176)

          Some of the sensationalist claims made by IPCC and ilk not scientific at all, and they've backpedaled on some of them in latest climate report

          • by geekoid (135745)

            Once again you don't talk about AGW science facts, only you misunderstanding of a high quality science report.

            BTW AGW and Climate change are different things. If you can not understand even that basic fact, then you have no hope of understanding the basic facts of AGW.

        • What part of conspiracy theory don't you get? Government classifies items,like pictures ,paper and other erratta on a daily basis, and ships it to warehouses, called NARA. There you have a chance to see it if its of the right item requested. Some one forgot to destroy this before it was found. Conspricy theory just say ooo! Mr. Carter, look what I found. Sometimes its right on the mark.
        • Not likely since AGW is based on science, and scientific method. Where as deniers are just a bunch of dolts with no science behind them. Ask yourself this: How come AGW deniers never talk about the actual science? They make post like you do: No evidence, no data, every scientist, every agency, every competing country are all in some conspiracy and only the enlightened few* can see 'The Truth!'

          *get over yourself already

          FYI - there are temperature sensor records going back to the early 1900's. However, they discount a good chunk of them saying that the sensors were not accurate or reliable, etc. All I'm saying, is that if the data does't align to their beliefs then they very well may say the same thing here - that the satellite's sensors used to capture the data were not accurate enough to use for the purpose of climate science, etc; and therefore toss out the data.

          It's not like they haven't done the before.

          On the ve

    • If you can't bring yourself to care, why did you post?

      That aside, it's good that it was recovered, though it is, to be fair, still a snapshot in time. Now if they had something over multiple years from that period, we could get a better picture.

      Nota Bene: "way larger" isn't exactly precise, especially given any competent chart on sea ice coverage over periods as small as a couple of decades. We've seen sea ice grow like crazy over the past two years, after all. ;)

      • by geekoid (135745)

        No we have not seen 'ice grow like crazy'. Not at all.
        We have seen some more snow fall in some area, but the overall loss dwarfs that new snow fall.

        Stop thinking surface, and start think mass.
        Antarctica and Greenland are losing 450 billion tons of ice every year

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by lgw (121541)

      Well, as a skeptic, here's what bothers me:

      The ground station temperature data has been quite thoroughly manipulated, always "adjusted" in the direction of confirming the theories of the researcher making the adjustment, Pardon my skepticism about that data.

      The satellite data, however, has no such shadow over it. It's good, solid data - the sort of thing one expects in science. But now there's this new satellite data that must be "processed" to be understood. If it's just photographic evidence like ice c

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        The ground station temperature data has been quite thoroughly manipulated, always "adjusted" in the direction of confirming the theories of the researcher making the adjustment

        What would you expect to happen if there are correctable errors in the data and the theories are correct?

        But now there's this new satellite data that must be "processed" to be understood.

        The raw data should be open and verifiable against the original film so that anyone can double check the data and the conclusions. But somehow I do

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lgw (121541)

          What would you expect to happen if there are correctable errors in the data and the theories are correct?

          What would you expect to happen if there are correctable errors and the theories are false, but the researcher was dodgy? Same result.

          Data that doesn't allow you to distinguish these cases isn't scientific. That's the difference between "evidence" and "pleasing story", after all. Reproducibility is everything: the scientific method is built on the foundation that a skeptical opponent of your research can repeat your experiment (or measurement) and be forced to come around. If you're "adjusting" your dat

          • by dak664 (1992350)

            NASA did destroy a large amount of imagery in the 1980s, despite a public outcry I certainly contributed to. The official line was that no one knew how to read the warehouses full of 7 track tapes to for conversion to CD (the 2400 foot tape could store 5 to 140 MB depending on density). The obvious reason was no one wanted to spend the money to replace all the classified pixels with innocuous ones. And so mankind lost a large amount of wealth.

          • Everyone here on /. shouting: I want to see the raw data, never would look at it if he had a link.
            How useful are billions of lines of text to a random /. poster that look like:

            time latitude longitude hight temp air-pressure humidity wind-speed wind-direction
            20140903230000 52N13'04" 05W07'11" 435m 13C 1011mb 45% 11kn 223degrees

            ???
            I arrogantly proclaim no one here who ever shouted for 'raw' data ever looked at raw data or on top of that has the simplest clue what to do at all with such raw

            • by Rockoon (1252108)

              no one here who ever shouted for 'raw' data ever looked at raw data

              Wrong. This is why your opinion doesnt matter. Its based on nothing and because its based on nothing, you are more likely to be wrong than right. In this case, you are wrong. 100% wrong.

              • So YOU looked at the raw data, or how do you conclude I'm wrong?
                And, if so, what did it help you? And if so, why do you never post links with raw data, when people demand for it?

        • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:32PM (#47820669) Homepage Journal

          they are deniers, not skeptics. Skeptics apply critical thinking and make an effort to understand the science.
          Deniers don't do either.

      • What bothers me is: are these the same climate researchers who constantly sensationalize the magnitude and effects of climate change, and then come out and tell us they were lying because they didn't think we'd handle the truth being 10 times worse, and then "leak" sensationalized committee conclusions about how climate change has caused "irreversible damage" and "cannot be stopped" and tell us that they didn't mean for us to see that?

        I won't be surprised when they leak that our climate change is threat

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You are not a skeptic. Skeptics use critical thinking skills. You are a denier who thinks they are skeptical.

        "The ground station temperature data has been quite thoroughly manipulated, always "adjusted" in the direction of confirming the theories of the researcher making the adjustment, Pardon my skepticism about that data."
        False.

        " But now there's this new satellite data that must be "processed" to be understood."
        Like ALL satellite data.

        You really don't know what you are talking about. Why don't you turn yo

      • by riverat1 (1048260)

        The satellite data, however, has no such shadow over it. It's good, solid data ...

        You don't think satellite data is highly processed? Satellites can't measure atmospheric temperature directly at all. What they measure is microwave emissions from atmospheric gases (mostly O2 I think) as a proxy for temperature. Then taking into account the orbit (and possible decay of orbit), time of day and other factors they calculate a temperature for a rather nebulous area of the atmosphere (not the surface temperature). The good solid data we get from the satellites is a measure of microwave emis

        • by lgw (121541)

          Sure, but it's processed in an objective way much like most measurements in science: with a known error bar with normal distribution, by methods grounded in the underlying physics that have themselves undergone peer review, and that aren't being "adjusted" after the fact to fit theory.

          • by riverat1 (1048260)

            I'm sorry but you're going to have to prove that surface temperature measurements a "being adjusted after the fact to fit theory". A lot of people assert that but they never bother to seek out the scientific explanations for those adjustments. Here is a blog post [judithcurry.com] about the reasons and methods for adjustments to the surface temperature record with cites to relevant peer reviewed papers about it. If you want to claim the adjustments to surface temperature records are invalid that is the information you nee

      • by tbannist (230135)

        The ground station temperature data has been quite thoroughly manipulated, always "adjusted" in the direction of confirming the theories of the researcher making the adjustment, Pardon my skepticism about that data.

        Strangely enough BEST [wikipedia.org] (partially funded by the Koch brothers) actually found that was not true. They actually found some the adjustments were over-correcting for warm bias and actually reducing the actual warming trend by a small amount. Unsurprisingly, adjustments are made to correct both unusual up and unusual down spikes in the temperature records which are often caused by changes in staffing, location, and methodology at temperature stations.

        The satellite data, however, has no such shadow over it. It's good, solid data - the sort of thing one expects in science.

        I don't think you actually know what you're talking about. [wikipedia.org]

    • Read the article:

      " September 1964 covered about 19.7 million square kilometers—an area slightly larger than the United States and Canada together, and larger than that seen in satellite data from any year between 1972 and 2012."

      Today is 2014, and antarctic ice (as shown by their photo), looks nearly *identical* to 2014, even after 50 years.

      Do you deny that 2013 and 2014 exist, and that arctic ice has increased to the point that matches their observations in 1964?

      Do you also deny that in 1966, there wa

    • by ledow (319597)

      And until someone works out what we're supposed to do about it, we can all sit around and argue about whether or not we caused it. Like a bunch of people in a traffic accident swearing and shouting at each other and not one bothering to use the brakes. Sure, knowing it's us must lead us to find out why it's us, which might lead us to find out how we stop doing whatever-it-is.

      Fact is, in EVERY discussion, every news story, every article, every paper I see, there's endless blame, "confirmation", etc. and ye

      • by jfengel (409917)

        I believe it's the other way around: we're prevented from talking about changes because we're too stuck on the large number of people who insist that the answer is "do nothing because nothing is happening/it's not our fault/it'll all be OK," based on information that is usually outright wrong.

        The short answer to "what do we do?" is "cut back on CO2 emissions". How we do that is a genuinely good question, since it breaks down into questions like "Who will cut, and how much? What will they do instead? How wil

        • Well, you have a few stumbling blocks:

          a) While the mechanism for AGW is pretty obvious and indisputable, the actual predicted value of climate models has been lacking. That's just a fact. They are getting better, and they will get better, but it is fact that they are inaccurate today.

          b) The private sector is already pricing risk due to climate change into models for various natural disasters. Right now this is just best guess based on the models, but as the models improve, so will the risk models based o

          • by jfengel (409917)

            Until that actual cost is well known and understood by all parties, it will be politically impossible for anyone with any degree of skepticism towards the government in general to agree to let government decide what that price should be.

            There are estimates of the cost, and they are considerable. The error bars are wide, but they are enough to at least start to move forward on some kind of system that will allow us to price in the effects that aren't being accounted for. Insurers are accounting for the effects, but not manufacturers or energy-producers, who can continue to produce as much CO2 as they want with no pricing effect at all. In fact, the possibility that there might be future costs encourages them to burn more now, raising the fi

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Here is the thing.
        Every time series discussion starts to happen, certain politician derail, misdirect, or blatantly stop the discussion.
        It doesn't fit their constituent theology and/or ideology.

        Since disease means the world will become too polluted and warm for human civilization, most main stream 'cures' won't be worse.

      • We can't possibly risk doing anything about this threat to humanity as it may slightly interfere with the generation of the imaginary tokens we use as a medium of exchange.
  • >using sophisticated software

    I wonder what that means. Is it more sophisticated than the software I use day to day? What makes it sophisticated?

    • by JWW (79176)

      What makes it sophisticated?

      Well my first guess would be geolocating the images to the proper location on the earth, projecting the data in to a digitized map grid projection and storing the data in a science archival format.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It means new and complex.

      It's a horrid term, but it's been used regarding software since the beginning of software.

    • by sjames (1099)

      It never uses the wrong fork or puts it's elbows on the table.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:13PM (#47818039) Journal
    These film were stored in North Carolina. It is actually illegal there [go.com] to predict sea level rise. There is some question about whether the law makers there banned the prediction of sea level rise or the banned sea level rise itself. But anyway these NASA scientists need to tread carefully in North Carolina.
    • From your cited article:

      Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue had until Thursday to act on the bill known as House Bill 819, but she decided to let it become law by doing nothing.

      Priceless.

      • by thaylin (555395)
        Well when the majority is large enough to override the veto what is the point sometime? She did not sign it, that is enough to show the lack of support without wasting taxpayers money.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          The problem with that is most people don't realize that's what's going on.
          Frankly, I think she should have forced a veto in order to get more attention to those dumb asses.

    • by clovis (4684) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:40PM (#47818331)

      These film were stored in North Carolina. It is actually illegal there [go.com] to predict sea level rise. There is some question about whether the law makers there banned the prediction of sea level rise or the banned sea level rise itself. But anyway these NASA scientists need to tread carefully in North Carolina.

      Total bullshit on the part of the media.
      You've got to learn to not believe what reporters say. Read the actual bill.
      http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/... [ncleg.net]

      "The Commission shall direct the Science Panel to include in its five-year updated assessment a
      comprehensive review and summary of peer-reviewed scientific literature that address the full
      range of global, regional, and North Carolina-specific sea-level change data and hypotheses,
      including sea-level fall, no movement in sea level, deceleration of sea-level rise, and
      acceleration of sea-level rise. When summarizing research dealing with sea level, the
      Commission and the Science Panel shall define the assumptions and limitations of predictive
      modeling used to predict future sea-level scenarios. "

      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. Rates of sea-level rise shall not be
      one rate for the entire coast, but rather the Commission shall consider separately oceanfront and
      estuarine shorelines."

      See the part about not including 'acccelerated rates of sea-level rise"? That's the controversial part of the bill. By taking the most extreme sea-level rise predictions, some sea-side community was announcing a need for huge sums of money to prepare for the "predicted rise". The bill was simply saying that you had to use peer-reviewed data and historical trends.

      I don't have a problem with the legislature requiring both historical and peer-reviewed data for predictions of sea-level rise, and I cannot imagine any scientist having a problem with that.

      • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @02:13PM (#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 clovis (4684)

          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?

          Thanks for the link to the committee bill. The outrage makes more sense now. Did that version actually get out of committee and onto the floor?
          I ask because the stuff that happens in committee versions of bills is indeed often ludicrous.
          I still can't find the "linear interpolation" language in any bill that was placed on the floor when I go to the state of North Carolina's legislature's web site for HR 819.

          However, what you linked to was NOT passed into law.
          I posted links to what was ACTUALLY passed into la

      • by ljw1004 (764174) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @03:25PM (#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 clovis (4684)

          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?

          As far as I can tell, HB819 was ok, then got worse, and then got better. That's how it works in committee.
          The difference is that I got mine from the North Carolina legislature's web site.
          nccoast is a cool web site, but their postings are not law. What you are looknig at is "PROPOSED SENATE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE H819-CSLH-38"
          Observe the word "Proposed". I haven't been able to figure out how far the -38 proposal got. I know for certain it ain't law.

      • by dkman (863999)
        I have a problem with builder developing beach front property, selling it for a tidy profit, then 20 years down the line I have to pay for it when it's underwater and a disaster emergency is declared. Then insurance rates go up because of the billions of dollars lost. etc, etc
        If you don't see that coming you haven't been on the Earth long enough or you've got your blinders on.
        If you want to build on the coast that's fine, but call it a flood zone and get insured as such. I'd prefer you have enough sense
    • by dywolf (2673597) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:49PM (#47818427)

      It's modded funny, yet it's all too sadly true.
      City and State planning commission folks wanted to be prepared, and incorporate future sea level rise into any future construction on the coast, such as docks, ports, etc. Anything that could be affected by rising seas.

      So naturally the state legislature reacts by banning any such considerations or planning for the future and force all construction to stay in harms way. Which is absolutely idiotic. And frankly, it's a fundamental ethics violation for any civil or construction engineers to follow this law. knowing that it will directly put such projects at risk for future damage, the same as leaving out structural fireproofing or any other common safety practice.

      • by afidel (530433)

        I wonder how such a law would interact with federal mandates that DOT plan for sealevel rise or army corp of engineering projects that require the contractors to do the same? I'd assume that the supremacy clause would mean that the contractors/DOT would have to follow the federal regulations and they would be indemnified by the law being invalid as it is overridden by federal statute, but it certainly puts them in a pickle.

        • There's not law that does what he says, so it's kind of a moot point!

          And when it comes down to it, county commissioners, city planners, zoning officials, etc are neither bound by the availability of plans or the lack of plans. If anti-development commissioners are elected, they can vote against expansive development all they want, completely regardless of sea level rise estimates.

          FWIW, I would be an anti-development commissioner!

      • Reference for where the state "bann[ed] any such consideration or planning for the future"? Not to a biased media source with no sources, please.

        You're absolutely right. Things are always--necessarily--better when they are centrally decided and mandated. Fireproofing is an excellent example. Thank goodness for codes that required asbestos [wikipedia.org], Tris [nih.gov], and polybrominated diphenyl ethers [wikipedia.org]. Too bad those contrarians just want to stand in the way of progress.

    • Trying to predict the future gets you sent to the third circle of Hell, where your head is turned 180 degrees and you're forced to walk backwards for all eternity.
    • Talk about a biased article. I am NOT saying I agree entirely with what happened, but the reality is that there was a moratorium on relying on the previous (2010) sea level report which predicted 39 inches of sea level rise. New standards for prediction are to be decided upon by 2016. The new standards do not look past 30 years.

      I personally do not believe that any climate predictions we have right now are worth shit 30 years out, so I don't have a problem with this.

      The NC coast, being surrounded for the mos

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @01:20PM (#47818105)

    They could have had a much more interesting picture if they had used 50.

  • Glad to see something related to this topic that is not brimming over with pre-masticated opinions.
  • As anyone who has done VR panorama stitching can tell you, software can only do so much. The output will have some issues, like things not lining up quite correctly or colors being off in one section, etc. So you have do some Photoshop work to make it look good.

    Kind of like the raw data vs. adjusted data issue. If they show you the massaged data to back up a claim, but then say they accidentally lost the raw data (or outright refuse to release it, as in some cases)... well then you know they're no longer in

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