In many regions of the developing world, there is a scarcity of ground-based measuring stations to record environmental conditions such as rainfall and temperature. These data are desperately needed to inform decision making in agriculture, water resource management, energy generation and other sectors.
In the last three decades, institutions have relied increasingly on satellite-derived estimations of environmental conditions. While these data sets are a welcome alternative in areas that have little or no ground-based coverage, their accuracy has not been evaluated properly.
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Users of IRI’s Malaria Map Room and desert locust monitoring tools for Africa can now take advantage of SERVIR, NASA’s high-tech satellite visualization system, thanks to a new plugin developed by scientists at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology [IAGT] and IRI.
As with other mapping browsers such as Google Earth, SERVIR allows users to zoom from satellite altitude to any place on Earth, and even tilt their viewing angle so that they can “fly” across a 3-D terrain. What’s more, the software taps into dozens of high-resolution satellite-image sources such as MODIS and Landsat. Users can add layers that show temperature, rainfall, cloud cover over the entire globe. They can even overlay animated weather events, such as hurricanes.
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