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Videos: Earth from Orbit

“Earth from Orbit” is a series of short videos that showcase a compelling weather event, environmental hazard, or interesting meteorological phenomenon each week, as seen by NOAA satellites. The videos, a collaboration between NOAA and NASA, provide a look at the science behind the highlighted topic and imagery. A short article with additional information accompanies each video.


LATEST VIDEO: GOES-T Arrives at Kennedy Space Center:

GOES-T Arrives at Kennedy Space Center:

NOAA’s GOES-T, the third in the GOES-R Series of advanced weather observing and environmental monitoring satellites, arrived in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021 to begin final preparations for launch, which is currently scheduled for March 1, 2022. Watch its journey from Colorado to Florida in the latest installment of our Earth from Orbit video series. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA/CIRA/Lockheed Martin

Earth from Orbit: Solar Flare Erupts:

On Oct. 28, NOAA’s GOES East satellite observed a strong solar flare with its Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI). The flare produced aurora that was visible across parts of the northern U.S. Learn more in this week's Earth from Orbit: Solar Flare Erupts. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA/CIMSS/Lockheed Martin

Earth from Orbit: 5 Haunting Sights from NOAA Satellites:

NOAA satellites have a boo-tiful view of Earth, 24/7. Sometimes they see some haunting sights, like moon glint or the moon creeping near the edge of Earth. When monitoring hurricanes, GOES satellites have captured eerie imagery that looks skulls in these monster storms. Graveyards are home to ghosts and ghouls, not satellites. But when a GOES satellite reaches its end of life, it’s sent to what’s called a graveyard orbit, out of the way of busier operational orbits. Finally, we ain’t afraid of no GOES-Ts. We’re excited for the upcoming launch of the latest sequel in the GOES-R Series. Happy Halloween from NOAA Satellites! Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA/CIMSS/Lockheed Martin

Earth from Orbit: Atmospheric River Hits the West Coast:

On October 25, 2021, a phenomenon called an “atmospheric river” dumped heavy rain and mountain snow across the Western U.S. and Canada. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow belts of moisture that move through the atmosphere. They can deliver large amounts of rain, and high-elevation snow. This deluge of rain can help end droughts but also can produce flash flooding and mudslides in some areas. NOAA satellites monitor these rivers in the sky as they make their way over the West Coast. Download Video | Transcript NOAA/NASA/CIRA/CIMSS

Hurricane Sam Powers Across the Atlantic:

As Hurricane Sam churns in the Atlantic Ocean, NOAA satellites are carefully monitoring the powerful Category 4 storm, the strongest of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season to date. Sam formed on Sept. 23 and rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane by Sept. 25. Sam’s rate of intensification was the highest on record that far east in the Atlantic this late in the calendar year. Satellite observations showed convective bursts and the presence of a defined, stable eye during rapid intensification. Significant lightning activity was also seen within the eyewall as Sam rapidly intensified. Despite several fluctuations in intensity, Sam has maintained major hurricane strength since Sept. 25. Download Video | Transcript NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Atlantic Hurricane Season Hits Its Peak:

September 10 marked the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Climatologists determined this peak date by recording the total number of named storms in the Atlantic basin over the last 100 hurricane seasons and taking an average of when the most storms occur. Around 75% of Atlantic seasons since the beginning of the satellite era in 1966 have had at least one named storm on September 10 and about 50% of seasons have had at least one active hurricane on that date. Tropical activity tends to peak around this time because of warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures and weaker wind shear. NOAA satellites recently monitored several storms in the Atlantic during hurricane season’s peak. Download Video | Transcript NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Hurricane Ida Causes Days of Destruction:

Hurricane Ida caused intense flooding and destruction from the Gulf of Mexico to New England, and is blamed for several fatalities. Ida struck Louisiana near Port Fourchon on August 29 as a powerful Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. The storm made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and is tied with 2020’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane in 1856 for the strongest maximum sustained winds at landfall for a Louisiana hurricane. In just three days, Ida rapidly progressed from a tropical wave to a hurricane. After striking Cuba’s Isle of Youth as a Category 1 hurricane on August 27, Ida headed northward and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane. Ida moved inland and brought heavy rainfall and widespread flooding from the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys into the Central and Southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, bringing record rainfall and deadly flooding to the New York region. NOAA satellites monitored the progression of the storm as it developed and intensified. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA/CIMSS

Earth from Orbit: Hurricane Season Heats Up:

As we approach the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, activity in the tropics is ramping up. NOAA satellites are monitoring storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Tropical Storm Fred formed on Aug. 11, 2021 and made landfall on the eastern Florida panhandle on Aug. 16. Tropical Storm Grace developed on Aug. 14 in the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a hurricane on Aug. 18 as it approached Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. And Tropical Storm Henri developed south of Bermuda on Aug. 16. Meanwhile, hurricane Linda churns in the eastern Pacific. As hurricane season heats up, NOAA satellites provide critical data for forecasting and tracking the location, movement and intensity of the storms. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Fires Rage Across the Globe:

As wildfires continue to rage in North America, and the Dixie Fire became the second largest in California history, fire activity has also spiked across the globe. Thick smoke from the hundreds of wildfires burning in Siberia has reached parts of Mongolia, western Greenland, and, for the first time in recorded history — the North Pole. Hundreds of fires are also raging in Greece, Italy, Algeria and Turkey among one of the worst heat waves in decades. NOAA’s satellites and those from our partners across the globe are providing critical data for detecting and tracking the hundreds of fires that are burning worldwide as well as monitoring reduced visibility and air quality from the smoke produced by the blazes. These observations aid forecasters, decision-makers, and first responders. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA/EUMETSAT

Earth from Orbit: Wildfires Spawn Severe Weather:

Wildfires continue to rage in the western U.S. Some of the fires are so intense, they’re creating their own severe weather. NOAA satellites are monitoring wildfire conditions as well as fire-generated storms. Intense heating by wildfires can generate a smoke-infused thunderstorm or pyrocumulonimbus cloud. These clouds can produce lightning and generate strong winds, making it more difficult to contain the spread of fire. In rare instances, they can even spawn a tornado. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon produced a tornado on July 18, 2021. When wildfires spawn severe weather, dangerous conditions become even worse. NOAA satellites are our eyes in the sky, detecting and monitoring wildfires as well as storms created by the most intense fires. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Satellites and Solar Energy:

Sunglint from solar panels is often observed in satellite imagery. While an interesting phenomenon to see, there’s actually an important connection between satellite observations and solar energy production. Detailed data about clouds from NOAA satellites can aid solar energy forecasts. Clouds affect the output of solar power generation systems. GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West) monitor what types of clouds are present, how they are distributed in the sky, how much shadow they are creating over solar farms, and where they will move next. This provides valuable information about the variations that can occur in power production over the next few minutes to hours. As demand for solar energy grows, the need for timely, detailed information about solar radiation and cloud cover is essential. GOES-16 and GOES-17 provide critical data for harnessing solar energy and efficiently delivering it to consumers. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Wildfire Smoke Blankets U.S.:

Wildfire activity amid extreme heat and drought has resulted in smoke blanketing much of the United States and Canada. NOAA satellites are monitoring the fires and their smoke output as well as the effects of the smoke on air quality, visibility, and weather. The satellite data are critical for forecasters, decision-makers, and first responders. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth From Orbit: Record Heat and Drought Raising Risk of Wildfire:

The western U.S. has seen record-breaking high temperatures over the past week as a heat dome, or mass of warm air, blankets the Pacific Northwest. This essentially occurs when a “mountain” or “dome” of warm air rises into the atmosphere, gets pinched off by the jet stream, and blocks new weather systems from moving in. The extreme heat, coupled with a severe drought this spring and summer in the region, has combined to significantly raise the risk of wildfire from both human and natural hazards, such as lightning. As the drought and heat wave stretches on, vegetation in these areas dries out, creating ample fuel for potential wildfires. But how dry is it? Learn how NOAA satellites help monitor fires and fire weather conditions that can lead to increased likelihood of them occurring. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth From Orbit: Tropical Storm Claudette Batters Southeastern U.S.:

This past weekend, NOAA satellites closely monitored Tropical Storm Claudette, the third named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Claudette slammed into the Gulf and southeastern coasts of the U.S., causing severe damage in parts of the Deep South. The storm was officially named on June 19 after it organized and strengthened near the town of Houma in southeastern Louisiana. It is the fifth-earliest third-named storm to form in the Atlantic basin since 1950. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Fire Season Heats Up:

Fire weather is heating up across the western United States, exacerbated by an intense heatwave and ongoing severe drought. NOAA satellites are monitoring numerous wildfires and keeping watch on areas primed for ignition. As of June 17, 2021, 33 large fires are currently active, burning more than 400,000 acres in 10 states. NOAA satellites zoomed in on several of the major fires burning in the western U.S, including the Telegraph and Mescal Fires in southeastern Arizona, Pack Creek and Bear Fires in Utah, and the Robertson Draw Fire in Montana. Data from the satellites help forecasters monitor drought conditions, locate hot spots, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, predict a fire’s motion, and monitor smoke and air quality Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Actinoform Clouds:

NOAA satellites captured actinoform clouds over the eastern Pacific Ocean on June 3, 2021. These collections of shallow clouds, organized in a distinctive radial pattern, often appear as leaf-like or reminiscent of wagon wheel spokes. They are commonly observed over open water in the Pacific Ocean, in areas where stratocumulus clouds form. These cloud formations are usually so large that they cannot be seen from below. They were first observed in 1962, by NASA’s TIROS V satellite. It’s not yet clearly understood how these complex clouds organize, and studying these clouds with NOAA’s advanced satellite sensors may lead to important new insights about our atmosphere. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: 2021 Hurricane Season Has Begun:

The 2021 hurricane season is officially underway. June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season; the eastern Pacific season began on May 15. 2020’s Atlantic season was the busiest on record with a total of 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes. And NOAA is predicting another above-average Atlantic season for 2021. NOAA satellites provide vital information for forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the location, movement and intensity of storms. As hurricane season gets underway, NOAA satellites are vigilantly watching over the Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane basins. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Supercells Strike Louisiana and Texas:

Severe storms struck Louisiana and Texas on May 17, 2021, producing heavy rain, extensive flooding, damaging winds, large hail, and several tornadoes. Hail the size of baseballs was reported near Girard, Texas, and wind gusts of more than 70 mph downed trees and damaged buildings. The storms produced several tornadoes. Torrential rain fell over parts of eastern Texas and Louisiana, producing widespread flooding. At least four people died amid floodwaters after more than a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles and 10 inches in Baton Rouge. GOES-16’s orbit allows the satellite to keep vigilant watch over a fixed area and capture storms in motion. The ability to monitor clouds and atmospheric conditions in near-real time helps forecasters track rapidly changing weather conditions and give advance warning of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: von Kármán Vortices:

On May 8, 2021, NOAA satellites captured von Kármán vortices streaming around Guadalupe Island, off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California. These cloud formations often occur over the ocean when islands disrupt the flow of the wind. This disruption creates spiral patterns in the clouds. NOAA satellites and those from NASA and international partners observe this phenomenon all over the world. When von Kármán vortices form, satellites capture them in stunning detail. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Texas Dry Line Drives Storms:

Severe storms struck Texas on May 3, 2021. They formed along a dry line, where moist air from the Gulf of Mexico met dry air from the Desert Southwest. The storms generated strong straight-line winds, hail, and tornadoes. A variety of GOES-16 and GOES-17 imagery shows the severity of the storms. When severe weather strikes, GOES keep a watchful eye to help identify intensifying storms and track rapidly changing weather conditions. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Earth from Orbit: Every Day is Earth Day for NOAA Satellites:

To celebrate Earth Day, we are sharing stunning views of our beautiful planet, captured by NOAA satellites. Every day, NOAA satellites provide critical information that keeps us informed and helps us stay safe. From our satellites, we see cloud patterns, severe weather, lightning, hurricanes, ice and snow cover, phytoplankton blooms, fires, dust storms, and more. At NOAA, every day is Earth Day. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA/CIMSS

Earth from Orbit: La Soufrière Erupts:

On the morning of April 9, 2021, La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent began erupting, spewing ash at least 25,000 feet in the air. The volcano continued to erupt over the next several days, with multiple violent explosions. NOAA satellites captured stunning imagery of the eruptions and provided critical monitoring of the resulting volcanic emissions and ash clouds Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA/CIRA

This Week in Weather: Gravity Waves:

On April 3, 2021, NOAA’s GOES-16 and NOAA-20 satellites viewed gravity waves rippling over Western Pennsylvania. Waves form in the atmosphere when air is disturbed, like a stone dropped into a calm pond. The gravity waves seen over Pennsylvania were caused by air being forced upward by hills into a layer of stable air. Gravity causes the air to fall back down, and it begins to oscillate, creating a ripple effect. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA/CIRA

This Week in Weather: Severe Storms Strike Southern U.S.:

From March 17-18, 2021, a severe weather outbreak swept across the Southern U.S. The storms produced damaging winds, large hail, and dozens of tornadoes, including significant EF2 tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. Throughout the event, GOES-16 (GOES East) monitored conditions and tracked the storms in real time. The satellite provided important information on cloud properties, storm structure, and lightning activity within the storms. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

This Week in Weather: Late-Season Snowstorm Breaks Records:

A late-season snowstorm dropped feet of snow in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota from March 13-14, 2021. Record-breaking snowfall was measured in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado. NOAA’s geostationary satellites, GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West) and polar-orbiting NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP satellites monitored a low-pressure system in the region and followed its evolution into an historic storm. The satellites allowed scientists to forecast the storm’s path and intensity while providing early warning. They also kept watch throughout the event, monitoring the progression of the storm and resulting snow cover. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Tracking Fires from Space:

From March 7-9, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored numerous fires over the Southern Plains. GOES-16 (GOES East) observed these fires in near-real time. By keeping constant watch over the same area, GOES-16 helps to locate fires, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, and predict its motion. The NOAA-20 satellite captured high-resolution imagery of the fires on March 9. This satellite’s VIIRS instrument has an imager band with high spatial resolution, at 375 meters per pixel, which allows it to detect smaller, lower temperature fires. Together, the satellites monitored both the hot spots and smoke plumes from the fires. Satellites allow for detecting and monitoring a range of fires, providing information about the location, duration, size, temperature, and power output of those fires that would otherwise be unavailable. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CIRA

Superior Flow of Clouds:

On March 1, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored lake-effect clouds flowing over Lake Superior. The satellites captured light snow bands embedded in the clouds. Lake-effect snow occurs when very cold air moves over the warmer waters of a lake. GOES-16 viewed the clouds in motion and tracked convection within them, while NOAA-20 captured the scene in stunning detail when the satellite passed over that afternoon. Specialized GOES-16 imagery distinguished snow/ice (white) from the clouds (yellow). Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA/CIRA

This Week in Weather: Tracking Dust in the Wind:

From Feb. 17–22, 2021, NOAA satellites monitored a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert as it traveled off the west coast of North Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean. The Saharan Air Layer (SAL), a mass of dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert, can transport dust far away from the Sahara throughout the year. NOAA satellites like the geostationary GOES-16 and GOES-17 and the polar-orbiting NOAA-20 and NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP help forecasters and scientists to continuously monitor the evolution of SAL outbreaks and their effects on the meteorology and climatology of the tropical North Atlantic. Download Video | Transcript Credit: NOAA/NASA/CIRA