A global methane composite created by Laura Mazzaro at Descartes Labs using Sentinel-5P data. It shows average measured levels in the atmosphere from January to August, 2019. Brighter areas represent higher registrations of methane. Darker areas represent either low methane concentrations or no data. Curious why the Sahara is so bright? Read on below.

The European Space Agency’s launch of the Sentinel-5P satellite in October of 2017 ushered in a new era of atmospheric monitoring from space. The instrument provides near-daily global measurements of ozone, NO₂, SO₂, formaldehyde, aerosol, carbon monoxide and, crucially, methane, a substantial component of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The enormous…

A sampling of maps featured in advertisements in Fortune magazine, 1930s-1960s.

☞ I explicitly excluded any overtly offensive images from this rundown that I could identify. Even so, some of the subject matter (as well as their occasionally unnecessary embellishments) may strike modern audience members as inappropriate. The images are a reflection of both their era and medium (magazine advertising). …

Nikhil Sharma at Descartes Labs created a global composite of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂) over August and September of 2018. Here, the highest levels of NO₂ are shown first and the rest fade in slowly. No, this is not just another population map.

Unless you completely avoided modern society in August and September, you helped make this map.

If you were in a car, bus or train with a combustion engine, if you were in an electric vehicle that was charged using non-renewable energy or if you consumed something that was shipped to…

Descartes Labs built a machine learning model to identify tree canopy globally using a combination of lidar, aerial imagery and satellite imagery. Above are trees nestled around Baltimore highway interchanges.

Note: This post was updated on January 3, 2019 to clarify that lidar was used as ground truth data to train the model only. Lidar is not needed to run the model; it requires only ~1m resolution four-band imagery (near infrared, red, green and blue) as inputs.

Much fuss has…

Tim Wallace


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