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STAR 2008 News & Events

Menghua Wang's Ocean Color Work Featured on NASA Remote Sensing Site

photo of Menghua WangRecently, NASA's Earth System Science Data and Services group included an article on Menghua Wang's ocean color work in their publication Sensing Our Planet: NASA Earth Science Research. The article, entitled Cleaner Water From Space details Wang's work using the MODIS satellite sensor to detect, predict, and mitigate dangerous algal blooms in large bodies of water.

From the article:

Wang sees a key role for near-real-time space observations of lake water in the Taihu area and in other regions trying to manage increasingly pressured water resources. Wang said, "An image series like this will be very useful for local officials in the management of water quality. We will know what's happening, and when it's happening, and can give timely information to local governments for water quality."

The NASA publication is available on the web, via PDF, and in hard copy.


Felix Kogan Wins Commerce Gold Medal Award for Scientific/Engineering Achievement

image of vegetative health map from Felix Kogan's award winning projectDecember 2, 2008 - Felix Kogan recently received a Gold Medal Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce at the 60th Annual Honor Awards Ceremony on November 18, 2008. He was honored for his work developing space-based, worldwide drought early warning and vegetative health monitoring systems and transferring the technology to users in more than ten nations. This is the first operational use of NOAA's satellite instruments for monitoring vegetative health and correctly portraying drought onset and extent and an innovative use of a current NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor. The system has been used to successfully monitor drought and affect agriculture and livestock policy in the U.S., Kazakhstan, and Georgia (Caucasus). See the website demonstrating his work here.

Workshop on Achieving Satellite Instrument Calibration for Climate Change (ASIC3)

For the most part, satellite observations of climate are not sufficiently accurate to establish a climate record that is indisputable and hence capable of determining at what rate the climate is changing. Furthermore, they are insufficient for establishing a baseline for testing long term trend predictions of climate models. The reasons for this state of affairs are many, but can be summed up in one all-encompassing statement: NOAAs operational satellite systems have been focused on short term weather observations, and NASA's research satellite systems have not had the long term continuity needed for monitoring climate change. As a result, highly accurate observations of decadal scale climate trends are generally lacking. The Workshop on Achieving Satellite Instrument Calibration for Climate Change (ASIC3), sponsored by NIST, NASA, NOAA, NPOESS-IPO, and Space Dynamics Laboratory of Utah State University, was organized to discuss the scientific issues involved and develop recommendations to improve the situation. The Workshop brought together experts in satellite instrument calibration, metrology scientists from the U.S. and U.K. national standards institutes, remote sensing specialists, and climate data analysts. STAR has been responsible for editing and preparing the Workshop Report, which has contributions from 29 scientists, and will publish the printed hard copy version.

Figure 12 from the report: Special Sensor Microwave Imager Sounder (SSMIS) observations compared to modeled background data illustrating bias and residual errorsTwo overarching recommendations were developed at the workshop. The first calls for a set of satellite benchmark missions to create irrefutable records and calibrate other satellite sensors. This is a new paradigm for measuring long-term global climate change. The basic concept is to place in space a series of highly accurate instruments, traceable to International Standards (SI), to measure with fine spectral resolution the energy reflected and emitted by the Earth. These instruments would not only provide reliable long- term records in their own right, but would also serve as a reference standard in space to calibrate other environmental satellite sensors. This recommendation also calls for maintaining continuous, overlapping missions for sea level, solar irradiance, and Earth radiation budget. The second overarching recommendation calls for establishing a U.S. National Center for Calibration (NCC). The NCC would bring together NOAA's expertise in operational missions and calibration/intercalibration of operational instruments, NIST's leadership in measurement science and standards, and NASA's capabilities in research missions and advanced calibration techniques.

Noteworthy STAR contributors to this workshop and its report include: Mitch Goldberg, Fuzhong Weng, and Changyong Cao were Lead Authors of three chapters; Larry Flynn was a contributing author, George Ohring edited the report, and Jerry Sullivan was a reviewer. Mary Kicza was the Keynote Speaker at the Workshop and Al Powell gave an invited talk on NOAA's calibration activities.

Final Report of ASIC3 Workshopthis link opens in a new window (PDF, 3.6MB)

Special thanks to NOAA consultant George Ohring for writing this story.

Clouds from AVHRR Extended Project (CLAVR-x)
Launches New Google Earth Site Serving STAR-Generated AVHRR Imagery

Google Earth users can now access the most recent high-quality satellite images generated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC). The image of Google Earth AVHRR data Clouds from AVHRR Extended Project (CLAVR-x) is now using Google Earth to display false-color imagery. Currently, the site shows a pseudo true-color image which uses the AVHRR's 0.63, 0.86 and 10.8 micron channels to simulate what the eye would see from space. In the future, this site will show other false-color images to highlight cloud and surface properties as well imaging derived products. The global coverage of the images will increase when a new data server comes on line next year. The generation of the Google Earth images was done by Amato Evan at UW/CIMSS and Andy Heidinger at STAR/CoRP/ASPB with funding support from NOAA/NESDIS/STAR.

The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) flies on the NOAA POES and EUMETSAT METOP series of polar orbiting satellites. The METOP/AVHRR provides global coverage with a resolution of 1 km. Data with a spatial resolution of 1 km is only available from the NOAA POES instruments when recorded by a direct broadcast station. We are using data from NOAA CLASS and this provides direct-broadcast data from several sites in the conterminous USA as well as Australia, Alaska and Hawaii. The site is updated every time a new data-set is found.

Special thanks to Andy Heidinger, CoRP/ASPB, and Amato Evan and UW for their work on this project.

STAR Personnel Win Gold and Silver Medal Recognition
at Annual Commerce Department Honor Awards Ceremony

At the 59th Annual Department of Commerce Honor Awards Program on November 15, 2007, 7 different STAR scientists were honored with Gold or Silver Medals. Paul S. Chang, Christopher W. Brown, and Kent H. Hughes received Gold Medals for their efforts, while W. Paul Menzel, Kent H. Hughes, Eileen Maturi, Xiangqian "Fred" Wu, and Cheng-Zhi Zou were honored with Silver Medal recognition. The details of the awards and the work recognized are detailed below.

Since 1949, the Department has granted honor awards in the form of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals. The Gold and Silver Medals are the highest and second highest honor granted by the Secretary for distinguished and exceptional performance. The Bronze Medal is granted by the head of an operating unit or Secretarial Officer for superior performance. Honor Awards are granted in seven categories: Leadership, Personal and Professional Service, Scientific/Engineering Achievement, Organizational Development, Customer Service, Administrative/Technical Support, or Heroism.

Among the STAR honorees, Paul Chang, Christopher Brown, Eileen Maturi, Xiangqian "Fred" Wu, and Cheng-Zhi Zou were in attendance for the awards ceremony.

All of the official photos from the Medal Awards Ceremony can be viewed at the DOC Press Photos site.

photo of Paul Chang (fifth from left) receiving DOC Gold MedalGold Medal for Leadership:

Paul S. Chang

Under Chang's leadership, the team cited for the award revolutionized the analysis of tropical and extra-tropical systems, greatly enhancing the accuracy of operational analyses, forecasts and warnings by using ocean surface vector winds observed by QuikSCAT, a research satellite launched in 1999.

Link to QuikSCAT:

photo of Christopher W. Brown (third from left) receiving DOC Gold MedalGold Medal for Scientific / Engineering Achievement:

Team that included:

This team was honored for delivering operational satellite-derived ocean biology products that support the need for forecasting and monitoring coastal and ocean waters. These ocean biology products, such as chlorophyll levels, help detect harmful algal blooms, assess regional water quality, and locate suitable habitat for important marine species. NOAA now relies daily on these products to provide information to its customers involved in ocean and coastal management. these ocean biology products are essential for NOAA to achieve its mission to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Link: Ocean Color Data Sources, from NOAA CoastWatch

photo of Fred Wu and Eileen Maturi receiving DOC Silver MedalSilver Medal for Scientific / Engineering Achievement

This team is recognized for introducing the first-ever hourly sea surface temperatures (SST) from geostationary satellite measurements. The product has revealed diurnal warming that is distinct from climate trends, improvied offshore weather forecasts, and enabled more timely services related to coral health, endangered species protection, fisheries and marine mammal management, and other environmental applications.


photo of Cheng-Zhi Zou receiving DOC Silver MedalSilver Medal for Scientific / Engineering Achievement

Cheng-Zhi Zou

Dr. Zou is honored for developing an innovative and unique satellite instrument intercalibration technique, which allowed data from several NOAA satellites to be merged into a single consistent, long-term, climate-quality record. He analyzed this 25-year record to determine the global trends in atmospheric temperature. His result, a global temperature increase of 0.20 degrees C per decade, is consistent with trends observed from surface weather stations. His work adds substantially to the robustness of observed atmospheric temperature trends.

Link: Microwave Sounding Calibration and Trend

STAR Scientist Eric Leuliette Contributing Author of Chapter in Nobel-winning IPCC Report

photo of Eric LeulietteDr. Leuliette has been a research oceanographer with STAR in the Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry since January 2007. He came to NESDIS/STAR from the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado, where he was an assistant research professor in the Department of Aerospace Sciences and Engineering. He was recently recognized by NESDIS Administrator Mary Kicza along with 13 other NESDIS scientists for his contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. IPCC was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former Vice President Al Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".

As a member of Working Group 1 of the IPCC, Eric was a contributing author and reviewer for the chapter "Observations: Oceanic Climate Change and Sea Level" of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis. Eric contributed the latest sea level rise estimates from satellite altimetry to the report. The chapter Dr. Leuliette contributed to and reviewed is available at:

The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC report also provides a list of all of the contributors (Annex II, pages 954-979): More details about the IPCC and the Nobel Prize are on its official web site:

Figure 5.14 from Climate Change 2007,
Variations in Global Mean Sea Level, 1993 to mid-2001

Figure 5.14 Variations in Global Mean Sea Level, 1993 to 
				mid-2001Variations in global mean sea level (difference to the mean 1993 to mid-2001) computed from satellite altimetry from January 1993 to October 2005, averaged over 65S to 65N. Dots are 10-day estimates (from the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite in red and from the Jason satellite in green). The blue solid curve corresponds to 60-day smoothing. Updated from Cazenave and Nerem (2004) and Leuliette et al. (2004).

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