Satellites help track Harvey’s staggering rainfall totals

By Tom Yulsman | August 29, 2017 9:42 pm
This animation depicts satellite-based measurements of rainfall from 7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on August 25 to 7:30 p.m. on August 28, 2017. (Source: NASA)

This animation depicts satellite-based measurements of rainfall from 7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on August 25 to 7:30 p.m. on August 28, 2017. (Source: NASA)

Here at ImaGeo, one of my main goals is to share compelling imagery about the science of our planet. Even when the imagery is the main focus of a post, I’ve ordinarily included a fair amount of explanatory text.

But with a torrent of graphics coming in showing Harvey’s impact, I think I’ll try something new, starting with this post: the imagery with a bit less explanation, but including links to places where you can more info if you want to dig deeper.

The animation above comes courtesy of NASA. The data used to create it come from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission – a partnership between NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and five other national and international partners.

In the animation, the very brightest areas show areas that have experienced the highest rainfall amounts. Many places received 500 millimeters (20 inches) or more between 7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on August 25 to the same time on August 28. Some areas have received more than that, but 500 millimeters is the top of the scale in the animation.

For more on this, see NASA’s Earth Observatory story here: Harvey Drops Devastating Rain on Texas

While I’m at it, here’s another animation from NASA showing rain accumulation as well as Harvey’s wandering path:

The rainfall estimates in this animation, covering Aug. 23 to 29, come from NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) program. IMERG imagery is produced using data from the satellites in the GPM Constellation, and is calibrated with measurements from the GPM Core Observatory spacecraft, as well as rain gauge networks around the world.

For more: NASA’s IMERG Shows Rainfall Accumulation Along Harvey’s Track



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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