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Data Pathfinders

Data Pathfinders provide direct links to commonly-used datasets across NASA’s Earth science data collections. While they are not designed to make you an expert data user, they will help familiarize you with datasets that are applicable to specific investigations, provide guidance on resolutions (spectral, spatial, and temporal), and give you direct links to data sources. After getting started here, there are numerous NASA resources you can use to develop your skills further. If you are new to remote sensing, check out the What is Remote Sensing Backgrounder or view the NASA Applied Sciences Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) Program's Fundamentals of Remote Sensing.

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. Credit: NASA SERVIR.

Agriculture and Water Resources Data Pathfinder
This Data 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. When assessing agricultural and water resources, the data can be grouped into three main areas:

  • 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

Biological Diversity and Ecological Forecasting Data Pathfinder
This Data Pathfinder directs users to NASA datasets that can aid in monitoring changes in biodiversity (whether natural or human-induced), species distribution modeling, and conservation management. When assessing biological diversity, the data can be grouped into four main areas:

Photograph of earthquake damage in Oshima-Mura, Japan

Aerial view of Oshima-Mura, Japan, 11 days after a magnitude 9.1 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Credit: U.S. Navy/Specialist 3rd Class D. McCord.

Disasters Data Pathfinder
This Data Pathfinder directs users to NASA datasets that can aid in monitoring conditions that might contribute to natural disasters, assist in measuring and mitigating risk, and help in assessing post-event impacts to surrounding areas. The data resources are grouped by natural disaster:

Diseases Data Pathfinder
While sensors aboard Earth observation satellites cannot detect the spread of diseases from space, they provide long-term data records that help address, inform, and monitor many environmental variables such as temperature and precipitation. The Diseases Data Pathfinder provides information and NASA data focused on:

  • Air and water quality, which can exacerbate many diseases.
  • Habitat suitability for organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens, like mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents.
  • Seasonality of virus transmission.
  • Changes in Earth's environment due to changes in human behavior, such as quarantines and travel restrictions implemented to control disease outbreaks.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information from a variety of data sources to map and examine changes on Earth. This Data Pathfinder provides a general overview of GIS with links to specific NASA resources, including using NASA data in a GIS.

Smoke stacks at a power-generating facility. Burning fossil fuels for electricity is a source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Burning fossil fuels for electricity is a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Credit: Photo by Brendan O'Donnell via Unsplash.

Greenhouse Gases Data Pathfinder
This Data Pathfinder provides links to commonly-used data on greenhouse gases and is geared towards researchers in need of satellite, airborne, or ground-based data on climate-warming gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor.

Health and Air Quality Data Pathfinder
This Data 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. Here you'll find data and resources relevant to:

  • Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD)
  • AOD to Particulate Matter (PM)
  • Trace Gases—NO2, CO, SO2, surface level ozone (O3)
  • Pollutant Transport—aerosol index, dust score, and surface reflectance
  • Public Health

Assateague and Chincoteague provide a rare example of overlapping barrier islands. All of them are constantly in motion. June 2, 2019 image from the NASA / USGS Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI). Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Assateague and Chincoteague provide a rare example of overlapping barrier islands. All of them are constantly in motion. June 2, 2019 image from the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI). Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Sea Level Change Data Pathfinder
This Data Pathfinder directs users to NASA datasets that can aid in monitoring changes in glaciers, ice sheets, ocean processes, land water storage, vertical land motion, and glacial isostatic adjustment as contributors to a changing sea level.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Data Pathfinders
This ongoing series of Data Pathfinders provides products and resources that are useful for assessing United Nations SDGs, supporting SDG monitoring and implementation, and evaluating progress toward achieving SDGs. The data are grouped by SDG:

Water Quality Data Pathfinder
This Data 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. It contains links to datasets related to:

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

Wildfires Data Pathfinder
This Data Pathfinder provides access to datasets that are critical in fire monitoring and fire management. Wildfire data can be used to forecast events, monitor ongoing events, and assess post-fire areas. It includes links to datasets related to:

  • 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

Page Last Updated: Apr 6, 2022 at 1:43 PM EDT