Did you know that many of the US Government’s agencies, such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), USGS (United States Geological Survey), and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have a catalog of free nature publications that you can download onto your device?

You may think that NASA is focused solely on exploration off-earth.   However, they have an extensive earth-based research mission as well.   

Here is a screenshot from one of their free publications entitled “Earth Book.”  This book showcases NASA’s satellite views and the views are stunning.  A country location and an explanation of what the image depicts accompany each photo.   

You can download this ebook at:  https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/earth_detail.html


The USGS also publishes quite a bit of material.  Consider the US Geological Survey Migratory Bird Science, 2020–21 catalog.  This Burrowing Owlsvolume lists the current (2021) activities of USGS scientists supporting the conservation and management of migratory birds.  It includes some striking bird photos too. 

I never would have guessed that they are engaged in 219 individual projects.  The projects range from “Avian Food Webs, Prey Resources, and Foraging Ecology” to “Evaluating Nest Site Selection of Arctic Peregrine Falcons in the Colville River Special Area.”  

Each project has a link to where you can learn more.   I will be digging into these studies soon!

Here is how you can check them out yourself:  https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1480/cir1480.pdf


Lastly, NOAA also creates publications worth reviewing.  NOAA’s Central Library site connects to some fairly technical papers concerning climate and the environment.   However, there are also some more accessible titles.  For example, try this one:  


This paper is entitled, “Encouraging Safe Wildlife Viewing in National Parks: Effects of a Communication Campaign on Visitors’ Behavior.”   It discusses how closely you can safely view wildlife and how you motivate people to observe the rules.  This is a topic that I’ve also wondered about.   Balancing the risk of animal habituation and possible food dependence, and additional concerns of people thinking they are tame is a major challenge. 

I’m not sure how this ended up in NOAA’s area of responsibility, but I’m glad it is being studied.

NOAA offers many more titles at the Central Library:  https://library.noaa.gov/Research-Tools/Subject-Guides/NOAA-Articles

Why not explore these publications.   These are your tax dollars at work.   Might as well enjoy!

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