Analyzing Global Patterns with Earth System Poster Cards

Earth System Poster Cards

These digital GLOBE Earth system posters provide images of satellite data to help students observe and analyze earth and environmental data, understand the relationship among different environmental parameters, and explore how the data changes seasonally and over longer timescales. The card deck features six months of the year for six science variables (described below).

Science Variables in the Earth System Poster Card Images:

Solar (Shortwave) Radiation -Monthly Flow of Energy into Surface by Shortwave Radiation (Watts per square meter) This quantity describes the total flow of energy from the Atmosphere to the surface by shortwave radiation, which is the visible light coming from the Sun. This is the flow of energy that warms the Earth's surface during the daytime. Clouds affect the rate of this energy flow, and the rate also varies with the seasons (higher rate in summer and lower rate in winter). These data have a grid spacing of 1 degree longitude and 1 degree latitude.

shortwave radiation

Aerosol Optical Thickness  - Monthly Aerosol Optical Depth (dimensionless) The aerosol optical depth is related to how much light is absorbed or scattered by aerosols (i.e., sea salt, dust, volcanic ash, sulfates, nitrates, black carbon, etc.) in the Atmosphere. Different aerosols scatter or absorb sunlight to varying degrees, depending on their physical properties. The higher the optical depth, the more light is absorbed or scattered by aerosols. These data have a grid spacing of 0.5 degrees longitude and 0.5 degrees latitude.

aersols

Cloud Cover - Monthly Total Cloud Coverage (percent coverage) This quantity describes the total percent cloud cover at all levels in the troposphere. These data have a grid spacing of 1 degree longitude and 1 degree latitude. The percent coverage is the amount of the sky that would be covered by all types of clouds if you were on the ground and you looked up.

cloud cover

Surface Temperature - Monthly Daytime Surface (Skin) Temperature (degrees Celsius) This quantity describes the temperature of the land or ocean surface in the topmost layer (first few centimeters at the top of the surface). It is different than the surface air temperature, which is a measure of the temperature of the air closest to the surface. Daytime skin temperature is greatly affected by solar energy absorbed, especially over land. Dark surfaces have a daytime skin temperature much greater than the temperature of the air above the surface.These data have a grid spacing of 1 degree longitude and 1 degree latitude.

surface skin temperature

Vegetation - Monthly Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (dimensionless) This quantity measures the health of plants on the Earth's surface, by how much near-infrared radiation is reflected at the surface. Plants with green leaves (from chlorophyll) using photosynthesis reflect more near-infrared radiation, so like the leaf area index, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is more positive for healthy and highly productive plants. These data have a grid spacing of 0.5 degrees longitude and 0.5 degrees latitude.

vegetation

Precipitation- Monthly Average Precipitation Rate(Satellite Observed) (millimeters per day) This quantity provides the monthly average precipitation rate in millimeters per day. Precipitation includes both rain and snowfall, with snowfall contributing as the amount of liquid created when the snow is melted down. The total monthly precipitation at any location can be calculated by taking the precipitation rate and multiplying by the number of days in a month. The rate is an average; it does not mean that precipitation consistently falls at this rate throughout the month at any location. These data have a grid spacing of 0.5 degrees longitude and 0.5 degrees latitude.

precipitation

In an effort to help facilitate the use of these images in both in-person and virtual classrooms, My NASA Data has converted the poster card images from PDFs to Google Slides for our newest datasets.  

Archived (PDF) Versions: