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NASA images reveal shocking scale of Aral Sea disaster

A series of satellite images from NASA’s Terra satellite, which began capturing the images in 2000, has revealed the shocking decline of water levels in the Aral Sea. 

Terra satellite image, Aug. 15, 2001. (NASA)Terra satellite image, Aug. 19, 2004. (NASA)

For fuller report on this issue, check out the NPR story.



Students! Apply for the NASA DEVELOP 

All students (grad, undergrad, recent graduates) interested in geospatial technology: the application for the NASA DEVELOP Program in Spring 2015 term opens this Monday, September 29th, and runs through November 7th. 

The NASA DEVELOP National Program fosters an interdisciplinary research environment where applied science research projects are conducted under the guidance of NASA and partner science advisors. DEVELOP is unique in that young professionals lead research projects that focus on utilizing NASA Earth observations to address community concerns and public policy issues. With the competitive nature and growing societal role of science and technology in today’s global workplace, DEVELOP is fostering an adept corps of tomorrow’s scientists and leaders.

This is a great program, and several CNR students have been involved, and have great things to report.

Students can apply here:


High resolution free DEM data released for Africa

SRTM 3 Arc-Second (approx. 90m) SRTM 1 Arc-Second (approx. 30m) Landsat 7 December 17, 2000

Just in time for class on topography and rasters tomorrow: new high res shuttle DEM data is being released for Africa. The image above shows the Niger River Delta in 90m res, 30m res, and landsat.

From the press release: In Africa, accurate elevation (topographic) data are vital for pursuing a variety of climate-related studies that include modeling predicted wildlife habitat change; promoting public health in the form of warning systems for geography and climate-related diseases (e.g. malaria, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever); and monitoring sea level rise in critical deltas and population centers, to name just a few of many possible applications of elevation data.

On September 23, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior) released a collection of higher-resolution (more detailed) elevation datasets for Africa. The datasets were released following the President’s commitment at the United Nations to provide assistance for global efforts to combat climate change. The broad availability of more detailed elevation data across most of the African continent through the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) will improve baseline information that is crucial to investigating the impacts of climate change on African communities.

Enhanced elevation datasets covering remaining continents and regions will be made available within one year, with the next release of data focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean region. Until now, elevation data for the continent of Africa were freely available to the public only at 90-meter resolution. The datasets being released today and during the course of the next year resolve to 30-meters and will be used worldwide to improve environmental monitoring, climate change research, and local decision support. These SRTM-derived data, which have been extensively reviewed by relevant government agencies and deemed suitable for public release, are being made available via a user-friendly interface on USGS’s Earth Explorer website.

Nice slider comparing the 90m to the 30m data here.


Raining on the King Fire

wunderground mapWundermap has a nice interface where you can add fires to your animated weather radar map. I caught this snap as our rare September storm (an atmospheric river apparently) moved over the King fire this afternoon. It radically changed the flow of the smoke plume, which shifted from northeastly to northerly. According to Scott, who talked to Rob, it was dumping up at Blodgett. So we will see what this means for the fire tomorrow.


How Scotland voted

Reds are Yes, blues are NoHere is a map of voting results from yesterday's historic independence vote in Scotland. Overall the Nos carried the day - 55% - 45%. Interestingly, Motherwell and Hamilton, two towns in my family's life, were split. Motherwell voted Och Aye and Hamilton voted the Noo.



King fire update

Blodgett looks like it is going to be OK, but the King fire is burning through the SNAMP Eldorado study area. This is where the SNAMP owl reasearchers are doing their work. We are getting a response from them to post on the SNAMP website.

Center for Forestry map of the King Fire

Inciweb (why don't they publish the fire boundary file any more????)

Carlin Starrs gets her perimeters from

Geomac -

and the NIFC FTP server at!2014_FEDERAL_Incidents/CA-ENF-023461_King/IR/

We will keep our eyes on it.

And Happy 100th Anniversary Berkeley Forestry!


King fire near Blodgett Forest Research Station

From UC Center for Forestry.

9/16 16:30 - The King Fire started the evening of September 13 east of Pollock Pines. On 9/15, it grew to 3,900 acres. By the morning of 9/16, it was over 11,000 acres and 5% contained. 

As of the afternoon of the 16th, the fire is alarmingly close to Blodgett Forest Research Station. All staff are being evacuated.

We will provide updates here as they come in. We anticipate the perimeter update will be updated every 24 hours in the early morning (as the data becomes available).

The last update was 9/16 at 10:00AM.


For questions, please contact

For more information visit: 


Meadow fire update, burning in Little Yosemite Valley

It's now on Inciweb. The Meadow fire is burning near Yosemite, at the east of Little Yosemite Valley.

From Yosemite NP:

As of 11-9:

The Meadow Fire has progressed rapidly and in multiple directions. In order to maintain the safety of park visitors and allow fire management operations to continue unimpeded, the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park is designating a portion of Yosemite Wilderness as closed. The area will be closed until further notice is given.

As of 11-8:

"Meadow (37 42.738 x 119 30.541 – Mariposa Co., 7,870’, August 16) A fire, that may be a spot fire, from the Meadow lightning-caused fire, was discovered at approximately 12:30 PM, Sunday September 7. The fire is approximately 2,582 acres. It is burning within the Little Yosemite Valley (LYV) on both sides of the Merced River. All trails in the area are closed. Approximately 100 hikers and backpackers were evacuated from the fire area in LYV. The fire is burning in Yosemite Wilderness. The High Sierra Camps were seasonally closed today."

Scott Stephens says it is growing fast. We will keep our eyes on it.


Fall 2014 class ideas...

Here are the tag clouds from this year's GIS class: the why, how and what of our upcoming semester's projects. Word clouds from Wordle.

The Why: what are the key problems class members want to focus on...

The How: possible methods we will use...

The What: some of the datasets that might be used...


New VTM reshot, from Tim Hanson

This one from Tim Hanson. The caption from the photos (286747. 286748, 286749, 286750) reads:

"Butte County. Panorama looking SW, S. SE and E from Neal Road. Note Juniperus californica in ravine. Woodland grass type of blue oak and digger pines with occasional Ceanothus cuneatus, Arctostaphylos manzanita and Rhus diversiloba."

There is still California juniper in the ravine, including far right of the new photo, which is uncommon in Butte County. The rare Monardella venosa grows in patches of dense clay soil in the flats of the canyon. The Wieslander picture was taken on 6/24/1933 and his picture was taken on 5/3/2011.