29 April 2016

April Data Digest

Posted by llipuma

By Rebecca Fowler

This is part of a new series of posts that highlight the importance of Earth and space science data and its contributions to society. Posts in this series showcase data facilities and data scientists; explain how Earth and space science data is collected, managed and used; explore what this data tells us about the planet; and delve into the challenges and issues involved in managing and using data. This series is intended to demystify Earth and space science data, and share how this data shapes our understanding of the world.

Three stories published during April describe the ways remotely sensed data and machine learning are changing how Earth is studied and understood; while a fourth shows the beauty of our planet through images captured by one of the satellites imaging the Earth.

Earth as Art 4

The U.S. Geological Survey released 37 new images taken by the Landsat 8 satellite as part of its Earth as Art series. Read more about the project and see the entire collection of images on the USGS website.

Life along the Nile, "Earth as Art," August 15, 2014. It is easy to see from this image why people have been drawn to the Nile River in Egypt for thousands of years. Green farmland marks a distinct boundary between the Nile floodplain and the surrounding harsh desert. Credit: USGS.

Life along the Nile, “Earth as Art,” August 15, 2014. It is easy to see from this image why people have been drawn to the Nile River in Egypt for thousands of years. Green farmland marks a distinct boundary between the Nile floodplain and the surrounding harsh desert.
Credit: USGS.

Three ways artificial intelligence is helping to save the world

When you think of artificial intelligence, the first image that likely comes to mind is one of sentient robots that walk, talk and emote like humans. But there’s a different kind of AI that’s becoming prevalent in nearly all of the sciences. It’s known as machine learning, and it revolves around enlisting computers in the task of sorting through the massive amounts of data that modern technology has allowed us to generate (a.k.a. “big data”).

Read the rest of the article in Ensia.

How satellites and big data can help to save the oceans  

Over the past century, rampant overfishing, severe pollution, and runaway coastal development have taken a huge toll on the world’s oceans. Now, however, two major advances in global ocean governance are quietly unfolding, offering hope that the early decades of the 21st century will mark a turning point in which humanity can begin to repair the global seas.

Read the full article in Yale Environment 360.

Satellite images can pinpoint poverty where surveys can’t

An explosion of data has already changed how we market products and politicians. Now a similar innovation is beginning to change how we combat poverty around the world.

Consider an unlikely problem: finding the poor. Even in a world riddled with poverty, nearly every government, nonprofit and aid agency struggles with this issue.

Read more in The New York Times.

— Rebecca Fowler is a science communicator and the Director of Communications and Outreach at the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP).