Giovanni: An Easier Way to Visualize Earth Science Data
06.17.08
The world of data can be a confusing one. Different formats, hefty downloads and complicated plotting tools can bog down even the experienced researcher, let alone a teacher or student.

A screenshot of the Giovanni Web site showing a portion of map

The Giovanni Web site allows users to analyze phenomena ranging from the environment surrounding a Saharan dust storm to the impact Hurricane Katrina had on ocean surface chlorophyll concentrations. Image Credit: NASA

Giovanni is a tool that displays Earth science data from NASA satellites directly on the Internet, without the difficulties of traditional data acquisition and analysis methods. Giovanni is an acronym for the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center, or GES DISC, Interactive Online Visualization and Analysis Infrastructure.

With a few clicks, data from various instruments on NASA satellites can be displayed in a variety of formats, including area plots, time series, meridional averages, zonal averages and vertical profiles, among others. Animations and numerical outputs are also available.

Users can analyze phenomena ranging from the environment surrounding a Saharan dust storm to the impact Hurricane Katrina had on ocean surface chlorophyll concentrations. Single and multiple parameters can be plotted for specified ranges and time periods.

Data is accessed and displayed via a collection of interfaces, each one allowing the plotting of parameters from one or more satellite instruments. Rainfall, temperature, humidity and gas concentrations are just a few of the parameters provided.

Scientists have used Giovanni in published research, such as a 2005 study investigating the Chesapeake Bay's response to highly variable precipitation in the mid-Atlantic; 2007 studies probing the variability of phytoplankton and circulation-related patterns in the Red Sea and atmospheric aerosol concentrations over India; and a 2008 study of cloud cover patterns over Greenland.

Giovanni has also been used by teachers and students in university classrooms to plot and study data for student research projects.

"Giovanni is a particularly powerful tool for high school and undergraduate research and education, because it provides uncomplicated access to remote-sensing data and easy-to-use functions to analyze the data," said James Acker, a scientist with NASA's GES DISC, which developed the product. "By manipulating imagery and conducting analyses -- rather than simply looking at images -- students gain a more comprehensive understanding of how remote-sensing data is used to investigate Earth's interconnected geophysical and biological systems."

The Giovanni Web site provides various resources for educators and users, including an online user manual and pages that describe the available data interfaces and plot types.

Related Resources
Giovanni Web Site   →
Giovanni-NEO Instructional Cookbook   →

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies