NASA features AER research on sea level changes

Christopher Piecuch
August 15, 2016

Sea level changes are a matter of serious concern for coastal communities, effecting recurrent flooding, beach erosion, saltwater intrusion, and wetland loss. Therefore, understanding the causes of past sea level changes, in order to more confidently predict sea level changes in the future, has been a major goal in climate science.

Past studies suggest that, along the United States’ northeastern seaboard, changes in sea level from one year to the next are strongly tied to changes to ocean currents in the North Atlantic, such as the Gulf Stream. However, recent research led by AER scientists Drs. Christopher Piecuch and Rui Ponte has now shown that such sea level changes along the northeast coast have more to do with the local meteorology, and less to do with the circulation in the North Atlantic.

Piecuch and Ponte, along with European colleagues, used decades’ worth of data from tide gauges up and down the United States’ northeast coast, from Virginia to Maine. They found that an ocean model, designed to simulate how the ocean responds to changes in coastal winds and air pressure, skillfully reproduced a large part of the observed sea level changes. The research clarifies how changes in sea level at the coast are related to changes in ocean circulation over the North Atlantic more broadly. It has implications for scientists trying to decipher past changes in major ocean currents or anticipate future changes in coastal sea level.

The findings were published in the Journal of Climate and Geophysical Research Letters and appear as a feature on NASA’s “Sea Level Change” website.

Are you ready for the next generation GEO MetSats?

David Hogan
February 25, 2016

A revolution in geosynchronous meteorological satellite (GEO MetSat) capability is just beginning.  2015 saw the transition to operations of the Japanese Himawari H8 satellite, hosting as a primary instrument the Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI). Soon to follow are US satellites in the GOES-R series with a very similar instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager – launches beginning in late 2016. And after that MetSats will be launched hosting instruments with similar capabilities from Korea (GEO-KOMPSAT) and Europe (EUMETSAT’s Meteosat Third Generation series).

This emerging generation of instruments provides dramatic improvements in spatial resolution, number and quality of the spectral bands and refresh making possible dramatic new environmental monitoring capabilities, but at a cost: an over 50x increase in throughput.

Our team at AER has recently demonstrated the capabiltiies of this emerging generation of satellites by applying technology and algorithms AER orighinally developed for to be launched GOES-R satellite on Himawari AHI data. We are tremondously excited about the power offered by this new generation satellite technology, The high resolution instrument provide stunning imagery, especially when combined with AER's multi-spectral and pan-sharpened image enhancement techniques. The additional spectral bands provide more and better quality environmental products, increasing your ability to accurately observe critical weather pheonomena.

Powered by AER’s Algorithm Workbench, we offer a complete solution:



Clouds: cloud mask, cloud properties, low cloud and fog Imagery: enhanced multi-spectral and pan sharpened
Multi-level winds: cloud and water vapor tracked Aerosols type and properties, dust and smoke
Temperature and water vapor profiles, stability indices, column water vapor Vegegation indices
Sea and land surface temperature Rainfall rate
Volcanic ash detection/ height Fires, hot spots and gas flares


Enhanced Imagery Sample Products


Here's an action-packed video to watch!


To learn more about GEO MetSat processing solutions to unlock the capabilities of this next genration of GEO MetSats for you, download this brochure or contact David Hogan using the Contact Us page.




AER Leads Research Initiative to Provide More Comprehensive View of Future Coastal Floods

Chris Little
September 21, 2015

AER scientist Chris Little led the development of an innovative, broadly applicable methodology for analyzing future coastal floods. The research was published today in Nature Climate Change.

"The newly developed technique is a significant contribution because it provides a more comprehensive view of the future coastal flood hazard, in which changes are summarized using a fully probabilistic flood index. The combines approaches to quantify both changes in storminess and increases in the baseline sea level."

According to lead author Christopher Little of Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), “These projections help lay the groundwork for more specific research that will be valuable for adapting to climate change.”

"Now we can combine changes in sea level and storminess into the same analysis, which allows us to assess the coastal flood risk more comprehensively. Similar assessments of so-called joint hazards (for example, heat and humidity, or storm surge and rainfall-driven flooding) are critical to understanding the full scope of climate change risks.”

Read more on this research and announcement:

AER Introduces the Algorithm Workbench at the 2015 NOAA Satellite Conference

Scott Zaccheo
May 12, 2015

I recently returned from the 2015 NOAA Satellite Conference, a widely attended international conference sponsored by NOAA's National Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS).  It was exciting to spend a full week interacting with an internationally diverse set of environmental satellite data users, scientists and algorithm/software developers, all interested in current and future NOAA programs and products.

At the conference, I worked with an AER team to present and demonstrate the Algorithm Workbench (AWB), a comprehensive toolkit facilitating the transition of remote sensing algorithms from research to operations (and back again) – also referred to as the R2O and O2R processes.  The AER Algorithm Workbench is the outcome of decades of experience at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) transitioning science/scientific software to practical solutions.  It evolved from the algorithm development and test framework we developed and employed as part of our work implementing and testing the level 1 and 2 product generation algorithms for GOES-R.

The Algorithm Workbench is designed to support the larger objectives of NOAA, as well as other research/operational institutions, to evolve to a standardized enterprise ground architecture.  The science algorithm development/processing framework is a key element of any ground processing architecture.  We designed the Algorithm Workbench to fit in this niche. It supports a common set of interfaces across the development, test and production environments along with a standardized algorithm template. The Algorithm Workbench provides multi-language support including C++, FORTRAN and Python.

At the conference, we presented some recent results evaluating a multi-cloud-algorithm precedence network (producing a cloud mask, cloud phase and cloud top properties) on data from Japan's recently launched Himawari satellite. The Himawari imager <<link>> has the same basic design as the GOES-R imager with only minor channel differences and so is an excellent basis for testing the GOES-R algorithms. With only minor tuning, the out of the box products look excellent.  Although this is only the first step in a rigorous validation process, these initial result indicate both the exciting capabilities that will be available in the US with the upcoming GOES-R launch next year.

I am looking forwards to next year's NSC, which will be held shortly before the GOES-R satellite launch ushers in a new era for geosynchronous satellite remote sensing.

Here are a few items of interest.

If you would like to learn more about the Algorithm Workbench and see how it might support your needs, please contact myself, Scott Zaccheo, or David Hogan.

AER Contributes to Landmark Study on Earth’s Greenhouse Effect

Eli Mlawer
February 25, 2015

Scientists who research thermal radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere are confident that we have a very detailed and accurate understanding of the nature of the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide (CO2), including the impact of rising CO2 levels. 

Recently I participated in a study that provided the first direct observation at the surface of the Earth’s increased greenhouse effect due to rising CO2 levels. This represents an important milestone in the detection of the increased greenhouse effect due to fossil fuel emissions.

Another key result of our study was that the measured trend agreed with theoretical calculations of AER’s highly accurate Line-By-Line Radiative Transfer Model (LBLRTM).

The study “Observational Determination of Surface Radiative Forcing by CO2 from 2000 to 2010",  published this week in the journal Nature, was led by Dr. Daniel Feldman of the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Please see press release "First Direct Observation of Carbon Dioxide’s Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earth’s Surface" summary of this research from Berkeley Lab.)

Thermal radiation exiting from the top of our atmosphere cools the planet, balancing out the radiant energy received from the sun. Rising CO2 levels lower this outgoing thermal energy (i.e. increasing the greenhouse effect), thereby affecting our planet’s energy balance and causing an overall rise in global temperatures. This same greenhouse effect physics also causes an increase in thermal radiation at the surface when CO2 rises.

In our study, an analysis of thermal radiation measurements at two surface locations, one in Oklahoma and one on the North Slope of Alaska, determined that increases in CO2 between 2000 and 2010 led to a rise in the observed thermal radiation, as expected. As each gas in the atmosphere has a particular “fingerprint” with regards to its absorption and emission of different wavelengths of thermal radiation, we were able to distinguish the impact of changes in CO2 from other effects. 

The accuracy of AER’s LBLRTM was critical in this analysis.  The foundation of the LBLRTM’s accuracy are laboratory measurements and theoretical calculations by scientists in the field of molecular spectroscopy, as well as extensive comparisons with spectral radiation measurements, such as in the recent study led by Dr. Matthew Alvarado of AER.  Many improvements to LBLRTM have been made as a result of such studies, and the model is widely utilized and relied on by atmospheric scientists.  Our fast radiation code RRTMG, which is incorporated in many global models used for climate prediction, is also based on LBLRTM. 

Our Nature article provides further confirmation that today’s climate models correctly represent the impact of CO2 on Earth’s radiation balance.  Although the impacts of rising greenhouse gases on Earth’s climate are very complex, it is important to understand that the driving force behind climate change is the simple concept of energy balance.  This study confirms that we have an excellent understanding of the direct impact of rising greenhouse gases like CO2 on Earth’s radiation energy.


AER research team contributes to Harvard-led study on natural gas leaks in Boston region

Thomas Nehrkorn
February 2, 2015

Scientists from AER's greenhouse gas (GHG) research team participated in a Harvard-led study ("Methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure and use in the urban region of Boston, Massachusetts") just published  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study found that about 2.7 percent of all natural gas delivered to the region was being lost to leaks from a range of  sources in the area, including homes, businesses, and electricity  generation facilities, substantially more than previously estimated  by state and federal authorities (1.1 percent).

Co-author Dr. Thomas Nehrkorn and contributors Dr. Jennifer Hegarty, Marikate Mountain, John Henderson, and the late Dr. Janusz Eluszkiewicz adapted, ran, and evaluated the results of the WRF-STILT transport model. The coupled WRF-STILT model is the linchpin of multiple GHG-related efforts worldwide and has been developed at AER over the past decade with support from NSF, NASA, NOAA, the intelligence community, and private industry. Among on-going applications of WRF-STILT are studies of methane emissions over the Arctic, and of carbon dioxide emissions over the Northeast corridor of the US.

Read the Harvard summary of the research study: "Boston’s natural gas infrastructure releases high levels of heat-trapping methane" in the Harvard Gazette.

Read The Boston Globe article about the research study: "Leaks in Boston area gas pipes exceed estimates" in The Boston Globe.

Read the research study, “Methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure and use in the urban region of Boston, Massachusetts”, published  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Note: AER greenhouse gas research team. Thomas Nehrkorn (top left), John Henderson, Marikate Mountain (lower left), and Jennifer Hegarty.



AER authors 43 oral/poster presentations at AGU Fall Meeting & AMS Annual Meeting

Ron Isaacs
December 4, 2014

We look forward to seeing colleagues at both the AGU Fall Meeting and the AMS Annual Meeting and hope you'll take a few moments to stop by some of AER's technical presentations.

As always, scientists and software engineers from Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) are contributing significantly to the meetings, giving 43 oral and/or poster presentations over the course of these two scientific conferences. In all, 38 AER authors contributed to this research.

American Geophysical Union, December 15-19

AER scientists and software engineers will author and/or coauthor a total of 25 oral and poster presentations on cutting-edge environmental research at the 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco. The AER papers represent a broad set of key research undertakings in the environmental sciences, including important advances in:

  • Remote sensing and quantitative retrieval of atmospheric constituents (including carbon dioxide and methane) and land surface properties from satellite instruments,
  • Understanding and modeling of atmospheric pollutants for air quality applications,
  • Meteorological measurements, data assimilation, and numerical weather prediction,
  • Characterization and prediction of solar flares and energetic particle events, as well as other studies of the space environment, and
  • Searching for climate signals in the fluctuations and distributions of oceanic mass and density.

See details about AER’s topics at AGU.

American Meteorological Society, January 5-8

Our scientists and software engineers will author and/or coauthor 18 oral and poster presentations at the 2015 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting in Phoenix. In addition to many of the interesting topics mentioned above for the Dec. 2014 AGU conference, the AER papers at the AMS meeting will describe key findings on the following subjects:

  • Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE) systems, and determining the impacts of new sensors on numerical weather prediction,
  • Algorithms and products for the new GOES-R satellite system,
  • Active remote sensing of atmospheric carbon dioxide using LIDAR techniques, and
  • Science support to operational weather analysis and forecasting.

View the topics and AER authors at AMS.

See you in San Francisco and/or Phoenix! Drop us a note if you would like to connect while there.

Ron Isaacs
Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), a division of Verisk Climate

Verisk Climate’s Atmospheric and Environmental Research Adds Winter Temperature Animation to Arctic Oscillation Blog

Judah Cohen
December 3, 2014

We created a new animation that shows the observed evolution of temperature anomalies throughout the Northern Hemisphere landmasses based on snow cover alone. We composited daily temperatures (using a five day filter) of years with observed high Eurasian October snow cover minus low Eurasian October snow cover.  The animation runs from September 1 through February 28. You can view it on the Arctic Oscillation blog toward the bottom of the page.

Given the high snow cover observed this past October, the animation may provide insight into periods and regions when strong temperature anomalies are favored based on snow cover alone.  This is not a temperature forecast and of course many other factors influence observed temperature anomalies including global sea surface temperatures, the stratosphere, sea ice and the random nature of the atmospheric circulation.

The Arctic Oscillation is the climate mode most highly correlated with surface temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere continents. Drs. Judah Cohen and Jason Furtado from Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER is a division of Verisk Climate) are analyzing and predicting the variability in the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the dominant mode of atmospheric variability in the Northern Hemisphere, in a new blog series.  AER’s published research shows that October Eurasian snow cover is a leading indicator of the mean winter Arctic Oscillation.

AER launches Arctic Oscillation Analysis and Forecasts blog

Judah Cohen
November 5, 2014

Drs. Judah Cohen and Jason Furtado from Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), a division of Verisk Climate, are analyzing and predicting the variability in the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the dominant mode of atmospheric variability in the Northern Hemisphere, in a new blog series Arctic Oscillation Analysis and Forecasts.  The blog will also discuss the climate impact associated with AO variability: the AO has a strong relationship with temperature variability across the entire Northern Hemisphere.  The time period discussed will be from the more immediate (the next several days) to the longer term (a season ahead). 

Motivations for the AO blog have been recent advances in understanding significant climate variability associated with the AO and in predicting the AO using dynamical models and statistical techniques.  Leading up to the winter months, we will focus on Eurasian snow cover, which has been shown to be a skillful predictor of the winter AO and of winter temperatures across northern Eurasia and the Eastern United States.  On cue to help generate enthusiasm for this blog, Eurasian snow cover has advanced rapidly this past October, clocking in with the second highest total since record keeping began back in the late 1960’s (See Figure), promising to make for interesting observation of the AO variability this winter.

Ron Isaacs appointed as IEEE GRSS Corporate Liaison

Brenda Kelly
March 3, 2014

Ron Isaacs has been appointed the Director of Corporate Relations for the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS). Ron is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the relationship between GRSS and private sector organizations involved in geoscience and remote sensing activities.

Ron's IEEE GRSS involvement spans numerous roles. He was elected a Senior Member of the GRSS in 2007 and served on the local organizing committee for IGARSS08, the society’s annual meeting, when it was held in Boston.

Under Ron's guidance, AER along with their government, academic and private sector partners, have been at the forefront of innovations in remote sensing and geoscience for more than 35 years. Fifteen staff at AER are members of IEEE.

IEEE GRSS subscribers can read more about AER's innovations in remote sensing and geoscience in the industry spotlight article "A Geoscience and Remote Sensing Research Paradigm in Industry".