The photo I chose for the banner of Liz’s Lab Notebook is from a collection of some of the earliest satellite images of Earth. It’s actually a photo of a photo (as in a photo that was developed from a roll of film) that I took at the 2012 69th Eastern Snow Conference held at the Frost Valley YMCA Claryville, NY.
The photo came courtesy of the keynote speaker at the conference, Dr. David Robinson, Director of the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab and the New Jersey State Climatologist. The collection of early satellite images were rescued from the NOAA trash bin by the late William Denn, a retired navy officer who ran a sea ice consultant business in the 1970′s and 1980′s. With newer, higher resolution satellite images, NOAA had little use for the older mosaics.
The satellite images are more than just pretty photos. The photos mosaics are important data records. As a graduate student and post-doc, David and his colleagues would pour over the images with hand lenses to distinguish snow-covered land from snow and use a grayscale to calculate the albedo of the parts of the images deemed to be snow. As far as David knows, the imagery collection he archives is the only surviving set of early satellite photo mosaics. He has a complementary collection of Southern Hemisphere images from the same era.
David brought out a folder of the photo collection on the last day of the conference and kindly allowed me to snap a few photos of my own. The image at the top of my blog is from 20-June-1969 and captures the North Pole and Greenland. Can you distinguish the Greenland coastline from the clouds?