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NASA has revealed stunning visualizations of our ‘breathing’ planet, showing how vegetation has changed over the course of 20 years.
Through ongoing satellite observations of Earth’s surface, scientists have spotted long-term changes that could have major impacts on the different habitats and ecosystems across the globe.
Maps - Changes - Place - Land - Water
The maps also show drastic seasonal changes that take place on both land and water, as plant life blossoms and dies down over the course of each year.
‘These are incredibly evocative visualizations of our living planet,’ said Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA - Space - Agency - Land - Ocean
According to NASA, the space agency has continuously observed land and ocean plant life with satellites for 20 years, as of this fall, after the 1997 launch of the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS).
These are regions in which little life can thrive, and have been seen in phytoplankton populations in the oceans.
Satellites - Earth - SeaWiFS - Launch - Effort
While satellites had been used before 1997 to monitor Earth, the SeaWiFS launch kickstarted the first continuous global effort.
When the data first began to emerge, many were skeptical.
Time - People - Earth - Surface - Space
At the time, people were unsure of whether Earth’s surface could be seen clearly from space, NASA says.
‘We were astounded when we saw the first images,’ said NASA Goddard scientist Compton Tucker, in regards to a 1985 study on the greening and die-back of grasslands in Senegal.
Researcher - Way - Data - Wavelengths - Measurement
The researcher developed a way to compare satellite data from two wavelengths, for a greenness measurement known as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index.
‘They were amazing because they showed...
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