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Data Pathfinders

New to using NASA Earth data? These pathfinders are designed to help guide you through the process of selecting data products and learning how to use them.

Introducing Data Pathfinders

Data pathfinders provide direct links to commonly-used datasets across NASA’s Earth science data collections. Earthdata search provides direct access to datasets, regardless of where they are archived, providing access to all research quality data for a given measurement type. These pathfinders supplement the search capability by providing datasets through commonly used tools; these tools provide different ways of visualizing the data, options for subsetting the data, and options for saving the data in different file formats.

Note that these pathfinders will not make you an expert data user. They are intended to familiarize users with the various datasets that are applicable, with some guidance on resolutions (spectral, spatial and temporal), and to provide direct links to the data sources. After getting started here, there are numerous NASA resources that can help develop your skills further. If you are new to remote sensing, check out What is Remote Sensing or view the Applied Remote Sensing Training on Fundamentals of Remote Sensing.

True color image showing south west Mexico with red dots to show where high temperatures were detected by VIIRS.

True color image from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi-NPP satellite.

Wildfires Data Pathfinder
This pathfinder provides access to datasets that are critical in fire monitoring and fire management. Wildfire data, from NASA satellite missions, can be used to aid in forecasting events, monitor ongoing events, and assess post-fire areas.

  • Forecasting—precipitation, soil moisture, drought severity, topography, land surface temperatures, vegetation density and extent
  • Risk and response—total area burning, fire radiative power
  • Post-fire impacts—total burned area, burn severity, and vegetation regrowth

Map of the US with NO2 data from the Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI).

NO2 data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board the Aura satellite. Figure credit: NASA.

Health and Air Quality Data Pathfinder
This pathfinder is geared to air quality managers and public/environmental health managers as well as citizens interested in using NASA data to monitor air quality for a particular area and to correlate air quality to health conditions. Monitoring air quality provides a means to visualize trends, aid in forecasting events or the movement of pollutants, and responding to events.

  • Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD)
  • AOD to Particulate Matter (PM)
  • Trace Gases—NO2, CO, SO2, surface level ozone
  • Pollutant Transport—aerosol index, dust score, and surface reflectance
  • Public Health

Sediment and nutrients and colored dissolved organic matter from the Mackenzie River mix with the waters of the Beaufort Sea just north of Canada's Yukon Territory. Phytoplankton lend their green hues to the swirling blue and brown waters.

Sediment, nutrients and colored dissolved organic matter from the Mackenzie River mix with the waters of the Beaufort Sea north of Canada's Yukon Territory. Phytoplankton lend their green hues to the swirling blue and brown waters.

Water Quality Data Pathfinder
This pathfinder is geared to water quality managers and researchers who have a critical need to monitor bodies of water locally, regionally, and globally. It also helps those who are trying to determine the impacts of changes in water quality to ecosystems, humans, and the environment and to restore and protect coastal and surface waters.

  • Ocean Color Data
  • Sea Surface Temperature
  • Inherent Optical Properties
  • Ocean Color in Inland Freshwater Lakes
  • In-situ Data
  • Cyanobacteria Assessment Network, or CYAN

Photo of people farming in a field in Africa.

NASA's SERVIR program worked proactively with farmers in Uganda to monitor agricultural resources to help mitigate crop failure.

Agriculture and Water Resources Data Pathfinder
This pathfinder is directed toward agricultural and water resource managers, decision makers, and anyone interested in using NASA data to monitor crop production or water availability. This pathfinder directs users to NASA datasets that can aid in forecasting future events or responding to current events, such as drought. When assessing agricultural and water resources, the data can be grouped into three main areas: land, water, and vegetation.

  • Find Land Data: land surface reflectance, temperature, elevation, land cover, and possible runoff
  • Find Water Data: precipitation, snow water equivalent, groundwater, and soil moisture
  • Find Vegetation Data: ecosystem health and
    characteristics, seasonal trends, croplands and evapotranspiration

Photograph of earthquake damage in Oshima-Mura, Japan

This photograph shows an aerial view of Oshima-Mura, Japan, 11 days after a magnitude 9.1 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. (Courtesy US Navy/Specialist 3rd Class D. McCord)

Disasters Data Pathfinder (coming soon)

This pathfinder is directed toward emergency management professionals, decision makers and anyone interested in using NASA data to understand the vulnerability and exposure of a community to a disaster. This pathfinder directs users to NASA datasets that can aid in monitoring conditions that might contribute to natural disasters, measuring and mitigating risk, and assessing post-event impacts to surrounding areas. The data have been grouped by natural disaster:

  • Flooding
  • Cyclones
  • Extreme Heat
  • Earthquakes and Volcanoes
  • Landslides

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2019 at 9:49 AM EST