Best of the Earth Scan Laboratory

The Earth Scan Lab has produced a great deal of imagery and research from around the world. Select an item below to explore our best work.

Image of the Week

Visit our weekly collection to view some of our very best images from each week.

Hurricane Edouard

September 15, 2014: MODIS true color image of Hurricane Edouard heading out to sea at 16:50 UTC (11:50 A.M. CDT).

September 15, 2014: MODIS true color image of Hurricane Edouard heading out to sea at 16:50 UTC (11:50 A.M. CDT). September 14, 2014: MODIS true color image of Hurricane Odile approaching the Baja Peninsula. August 28, 2014: MODIS true color image of a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico at 17:02 UTC (12:02 P.M. CDT). August 26, 2014: MODIS true color image of Hurricane Cristobal at 15:40 UTC (10:40 A.M. CDT) traveling across the Atlantic. August 18, 2014: GOES-13 (14:45 UTC) water vapor image showing tropical waves traversing across the Atlantic. These waves originate in Africa and have the potential to become tropical cyclones. August 6, 2014: Suomi-NPP true color image taken at 20:45 UTC showing hurricanes Iselle (left) and Julio (right) marching towards the Hawaiian Islands. August 4, 2014: Hurricane Bertha entering a more favorable environment. Dry air can be seen lessening in extent. August 1, 2014: Newly formed Tropical Storm Bertha fights dry air to the west and north. July 29, 2014: Smoke plumes can be seen as fires rage in Yosemite National Park in California. Also notice the linear cloud features forming along the coast. July 25, 2014: GOES-13 water vapor image shows dry air dominating the central Atlantic. This dry air works to inhibit tropical cyclone formation. July 13, 2014: African dust dominates the eastern Atlantic. Notice the dust creating a stable airmass just offshore in which no clouds form. Clouds form in a linear feature just outside the dry air. July 3, 2014: Hurricane Arthur approaching the North Carolina coast. July 2, 2014: Tropical Storm Arthur gaining strength off the coast of Florida. July 1, 2014: GOES-13 infrared image of newly formed Tropical Storm Arthur gathering strength off the coast of Florida. June 22, 2014: Dust can be seen exiting the coast of Africa. This dust inhibits tropical cyclone formation by causing dry conditions in the Atlantic. Suomi-NPP's Day-Night band captures Hurricane Cristina heading westward away from Mexico on the night of June 12, 2014. June 4th, 2014: MODIS Truecolor image showing possible fires in Mexico. Smoke plumes can clearly be seen in the western portion of the country. Rainstorms move east during the afternoon of May 29, 2014. May 20th, 2014: GOES-13 weekly composite image. Notice the Loop Current's spatial extent towards the west and east. May 14 2014: Three Suomi-NPP RGB Combinations showing optical qualities, locations of and relative hotness of wildfires in San Diego. May 13, 2014: SNPP image combination showing sea surface temperatures, day/night band, and clouds. Note the lightning strike in Texas and the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico. May 5th, 2014: NOAA-19 image showing the Loop Current in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Also notice the Florida Current off the eastern coast of Florida. Suomi-NPP infrared image from April 29, 2014 showing possible tornadoes across Alabama and coastal Mississippi Sea Surface Temperature average from April 21, 2014 to April 24, 2014 Suomi-NPP VIIRS true color image showing possible algal blooms southwest of the Atchafalaya on April 9th, 2014 19:31 UTC. GOES-13 monthly anomaly image for March, 2014. Notice how warm the northern extent of the Gulf Stream was during the month. VIIRS day/night band composite from March 20th-25th, 2014 showing the Northeastern United States. Cities are visible as bright white spots. March 11, 2014: Mid-infrared thermal image showing the Florida Current. Blue tones represent cooler waters and orange tones represent warmer waters. GOES-13 weekly image showing the Loop Current. Notice the cooler waters located just off the northern Gulf Coast as a result of multiple cold front passages. The Earth Scan Laboratory wishes everyone a safe and happy Mardi Gras! MODIS image of Lake Superior covered in ice. Notice the areas with solid and fractured ice. MODIS Truecolor image showing substantial ice cover over the Great Lakes. After upgrading our antenna we now have the capability to capture Suomi-NPP data. Here is one of our first images. Residual snow/ice can be seen a couple days after a winter storm affected the area. MODIS truecolor image showing a large band of frozen precipitation over the southern United States. Most locations in Louisiana were at or below freezing and experiencing a mixture of frozen precipitation. Stratified sea surface temperatures showing multiple eddies in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Heavy sediment plumes are seen in Lake Pontchartrain and near the mouth of the Mississippi River. NOAA-18 AVHRR image showing the effects of a cold front passage on sea surface temperatures. Heavy sediment plumes are seen in Lake Pontchartrain and near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The Earth Scan Laboratory wishes everyone a safe and happy entry into 2014! The Earth Scan Laboratory would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday! Winter approaches LSU as a front descends from the North. MODIS Truecolor image showing heavy sediment in Lake Pontchartrain. GOES-13 weekly composite image showing sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Basin. Note the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico. GOES-13 weekly composite image showing sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Basin. MODIS Truecolor image showing stratification off the coast of Louisiana after a frontal passage. The Earth Scan Laboratory wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween! MODIS Truecolor image showing heavy sediment in Lake Pontchartrain and along coastal Louisiana. <a href="/hurricanes/2013/KAREN">Tropical Storm Karen</a> as of October 3, 2013 at 17:45 UTC shown over average sea surface temperatures for the week of September 25th through October 1st. Image shows the departure from the 15-year mean sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Basin for the month of September. NOAA-19 SST images show the effect of a frontal passage on sea surface temperatures in Lake Pontchartrain. Average temperatures decreased approximately 4 C after the front passed. September 13, 2013: Tropical Storm <a href="/hurricanes/2013/INGRID/">Ingrid</a> near the coast of Mexico. September 3, 2013: Image showing areas in the Atlantic Basin that are ripe for tropical cyclone formation. Red indicates areas that support cyclogenesis and blue indicates areas that do not support formation. Monthly mean image from August showing a comparatively cooler Gulf of Mexico. However, cyclogenesis is still supported in this region. August 29, 2013: Eight years ago today <a href="/hurricanes/2005/KATRINA">Hurricane Katrina</a> made landfall in Buras-Triumpth, Louisiana. It would then go on to devastate New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. August 25, 2013: Tropical Storm Fernand off the coast of Mexico. August 18, 2013: MODIS Truecolor image showing sediment along the Louisiana coast. View our <a href="">MODIS archives</a> for daily images of the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana coast! August 16, 2013: <a href="">Invest 92L's</a> forecast models. If this system were to develop, it would get the name "Fernand". August 16, 2013: Newly formed Tropical Storm Erin's forecast models. Check out the "Hurricanes" page for much more! August 06, 2013: GOES-13 weekly composite image with sea-surface height (SSH) data overlain on sea-surface temperature (SST) data. July 30, 2013: The remnants of Tropical Storm Dorian north of the Caribbean islands. The National Hurricane Center's official track forecast for <a href="/hurricanes/2013/DORIAN">Tropical Storm Dorian</a>. Outputs from hurricane forecast models for <a href="/hurricanes/2013/DORIAN">Tropical Storm Dorian</a> July 16, 2013: GOES-13 weekly composite image with the Gulf Stream clearly seen meandering up the East Coast. July 02, 2013: GOES Weekly Composite image of the Atlantic Basin. Note the Gulf Stream near the East Coast. June 17, 2013: Tropical Storm Barry bears down on the Yucatan Peninsula June 5, 2013: Tropical Storm Andrea bears down on Florida's western coast. June 5th, 2013: Tropical Storm Andrea can been seen gathering strength over the Southern Gulf of Mexico. May 14, 2013: AVHRR (NOAA-16) image showing an incredible eddy located in the Loop Current. May 05, 2013: MODIS Regional Truecolor image. Note the weather system in the Lower Mississippi Valley region. April 30th, 2013: GOES Weekly Composite image. Note the meandering of the Loop Current and Gulf Stream. April 20th, 2013: MODIS truecolor image that shows sediment captured by a gyre. April 16, 2013: GOES Weekly composite image of the Atlantic Basin. The Gulf Stream is clearly seen meandering during this time period. April 09, 2013: GOES Weekly composite image of the Atlantic Basin. The gulf stream is clearly seen meandering during this time period. April 02, 2013: GOES Weekly Composite image with the loop current clearly seen. March 27, 2013: MODIS Louisiana Coast Truecolor image. March 26, 2013: Weekly GOES composite with Loop Current clearly visible. March 24, 2013: Sediment plumes originating from the Atchafalaya Basin can be seen traveling southward as a result of frontal passage. Heavy sediments are seen exiting the Mississippi River delta. Noxious smoke plumes from the marshes near New Orleans East blanket the city of New Orleans on August 30, 2011. Five years ago a rare snowfall fell in south Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. Image above shows the extent of this rare winter storm. September 11, 2014: MODIS true color image of Hurricane Ike traversing the Gulf of Mexico, six years ago this week. September 13, 2014: MODIS true color image of Hurricane Ivan ten years ago this week. The storm was at category five strength in this image. August 24, 2014: 22 years ago, Hurricane Andrew made landfall in south Florida. A couple days later, he would move into the Gulf and take aim at Louisiana's coast. August 25, 2014: Hurricane Andrew's eye clearly seen aiming for Louisiana's coast, 22 years ago today.


See our gallery collections for various events and topics of interest

Our Best Image Galleries

Ocean Animations

See our best animations of the ocean in motion.

2004 GOES SST Ivan Cool Wake
Hurricane Bill Passes Through the Atlantic
Hurricane Ike Cool Wake in the GOM
GOES Monthly Composite SST Animation, 1998-2010
2005 Hurricane Season Microwave SST Cool Wakes
SSH Loop Current Circulation by Robert Leben
Eddy Zap, animated gif
Hurricane Gustav Cool Wake in the GOM
1999 Loop Current Sheds an Eddy
GOES 12-year Anomaly Calculation, 1998-2010
GOES SST and drifter motion: April 2001-Nov 2004
GOES SST and Currents at 26N 92W March-April 2001

Atmospheric Animations

See our best animations of the atmoshpere and tropical systems.

Hurricane Katrina's approach to the Gulf Coast
Hurricane Ivan GOES Water Vapor
Hurricane Isidore GOES Water Vapor
Hurricane Edouard GOES IR Quicktime
Hurricane Rita GOES Water Vapor
Hurricane Georges GOES Infrared
Hurricane Katrina's Eye
Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike GOES WV
Hurricane Edouard GOES IR animated gif
Hurricane Katrina GOES Water Vapor
Hurricane Isabel GOES Water Vapor
Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike GOES IR
Hurricane Alex Water Vapor Animation
Hurricane Wilma Water Vapor Animation

Loop Current and
Frontal Eddies

The loop current and its frontal eddies greatly impact currents throughout the Gulf of Mexico. See more on these important processes here.

Studying the Loop Current at the ESL

The Gulf Loop Current is one of the most dynamic ocean currents in the world. Frontal eddy cyclones are regions of vigorous upwelling that develop along the Loop Current's margin in association with current meanders. The Loop Current and its eddies are large reservoirs of heat that have the capability to intensify hurricanes and tropical storms crossing the Gulf. Our sea surface temperature cloud removal algortihm enables us to track and study rapidly moving (35 km/day) frontal eddy cyclones around the margin of the Loop Current. This capability proved essential in our research on the fate of surface oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Our funding for this research comes mainly from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and BP.

In the summer months the loop current and its associated eddies can be difficult to detect by inspecting surface temperatures alone.

A warm core eddy below a cool cyclone during the summer of 2013

For this reason additional datasets must be studied in order to determine the location of currents within the Gulf of Mexico. One satellite-based dataset used in this effort are altimeter readings of sea surface heights. The loop current and other clockwise-rotating eddies have a high sea height signature, while counter-clockwise rotating eddies have a low sea height signature. While satellite-derived sea surface temperature data capture information throughout the entire Gulf of Mexico each time a satellite pass is recorded, sea surface heights are recorded only directly below the satellite's nadir. These samples are then interpolated across the entire Gulf of Mexico in order to provide a useful view of sea height conditions. Gathering two dimensional data from one dimensional data samples in this way affects the precision of the of height measurements in areas of the dataset where altimeter sampling is sparse. This means that fast changing ocean processes may be lost in areas of infrequent altimeter sampling. Combining SSH with SST data therefore yeilds a superiour product than either in isolation. To the right you'll see some animations showing altimeter readings taken over the Gulf of Mexico during the course of a day for the time periods indicated. Be sure to visit our GVAR archives to see imagery of ocean currents in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic basin.

Deepwater Horizon

Learn more about our imagery of surface oil as well as research conducted with this data.

Deepwater Horizon Surface Oil

On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil rig experienced a series of malfunctions and subsequent explosions that disengaged the rig from its drill and killed eleven workers onboard. The explosion damaged the wellhead 5,000 feet below the surface, and crude oil flowed from the damaged wellhead until a containment cap was put in place on July 15, 2010.

The Earth Scan Laboratory has been tracking the oil that reaches the surface of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The image to the right is a composite of three satellite images all captured around June 14, 2010: calculated sea surface temperatures captured by the MODIS sensor aboard NASA's Aqua-1 satellite with microwave imagery from Radarsat-1 and Envisat superimposed. See links below for surveillance of this environmental crisis.

MODIS image of the Deepwater Horizon oil slick in the northern Gulf of Mexico