U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



International Journal of Remote Sensing, 2015


U.S. Government Work


Since 1990, the role of satellite observations for climate and land services increased considerably, especially with the introduction in 2011 of the new generation of NOAA operational satellites, called Suomi NPOSS Polar-Orbiting Partnership (S-NPP). S-NPP will continue as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) for the next two decades. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the S-NPP spacecraft is accommodating the best technical and scientific features of its predecessors and has several new important features. S-NPP and JPSS, in addition to data collection, will address the impacts of climate and weather on industries, water, energy, population health, and other resources and activities. This article discusses how these operational satellites improve early drought detection, monitoring its features (intensity, duration, area, etc.) and prediction of agricultural losses; how fast the Earth’s natural resources deteriorate; and whether the current warm climate intensifies droughts and increases its area and duration. These climate services have already become available to the global community. The S-NPP/VIIRS data permits its users to enhance long-term environmental data records, thereby improving the ability to estimate global warming, land-cover changes, and better monitoring of environmental resources.