BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When you want to take in a view of the Earth, you have to step back.
Alex DeMetrick reports, NASA satellites provide that distance, now researchers have added time, to create a project called “Earth View.”
Down on the ground, changes to Earth’s life forms sometimes go unnoticed, as we move through the day-to-day of the present. But up above, a fleet of satellites never stops watching.
“We observe ocean, land, atmosphere and ice,” says Dr. Ivona Cetinic, of the NASA Goddard Space Center.
Now NASA researchers have taken 20 years of those observations and made time-lapse videos of Earth from 1997 to the present.
The goal is to “specifically observe life on Earth, plant life on Earth,” says Dr. Cetinic. “So we can see the plants on the land and plants in the ocean, doing what they do best, taking down carbon dioxide and giving us back oxygen we breathe.”
But not all plants are helpful. Microscopic algae that bloom into dead zones in the Chesapeake, are exploding in waters around the world. Warmer weather has also been increasing over the past 20 years. Observations along the East Coast from the mid-Atlantic to the northeast show.
“Seasons are changing,” Cetinic says. “The spring times are coming earlier and falls are lasting longer.”
Using 20 years of past data, climates models for future events like droughts can be projected.
Knowing what to expect could help agriculture and water sources prepare, and populations survive.
Understanding life on Earth is also essential to finding it on other worlds.
“We can figure out what the fingerprint of life is, and then take the fingerprint of life and search for it on other planets,” according to Dr. Cetinic.
To see more of NASA’s Earth View project, CLICK HERE.