Changes in World’s Forests Portrayed in High Definition
The importance of forest ecosystem services is recognized around the world; however, previous methods of tracking global forest change were based on data that did not have enough detail to accurately measure change. A new study published in Science magazine is changing that.
Matthew C. Hansen of the University of Maryland, assisted by co-author Thomas R. Loveland, chief scientist at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, S. D., led this unparalleled survey of global forests. The team of scientists interpreted over 650,000 Landsat 7 scenes to create global maps of forest change. The maps are the most detailed and complete assessment of global forest dynamics available. Global tree cover extent, loss, and gain were mapped at 30-m resolution, higher detail than ever before. Globally during this period, 2.3 million square kilometers of forest were lost, and 0.8 million square kilometers were gained.
"Tracking changes in the world's forests is critical because forests have direct impacts on local and national economies, on climate and local weather, and on wildlife and clean water," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. "This fresh view of recent changes in the world’s forests is thorough, objective, visually compelling, and vitally important."
"Ever since the USGS made Landsat data free to anyone in 2008, Landsat imagery has served as a reliable common record, a shared vocabulary of trusted data about Earth conditions," Castle continued.
Tom Loveland added, "This multi-organization project was only feasible with the existence of free Landsat data. The invaluable Landsat archive supplies high-quality, long-term, consistent global data at a scale appropriate for tracking forest gains and losses."
The 41-year Landsat record of changes on the Earth's surface is continuously updated in the Landsat archive maintained by the USGS EROS Center.
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Fly with Landsat
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) reached its nominal altitude of 705 kilometers (438 miles) on April 12, 2013. LDCM is still returning engineering data until the checkout phase ends on May 30. In the meantime, NASA has been releasing some stunning imagery to demonstrate the impressive quality of data that will soon be available. The latest is an animation that shows one swath from the satellite recorded on April 19. The seamless flyover includes 56 images in a swath about 9,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) long from northern Russia to South Africa. For more information, go to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/news/russia-south-africa.html.
Landsat Images Provide the Gold Standard for New Earth Applications
Images from Landsat satellites provided free to the public by the Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey were the starting points for "a new breakthrough" reported by Time and announced on the Official Google Blog. Using its Earth Engine technology, Google has compiled decades of Landsat images into a new, interactive time-lapse experience. For more on this story, please go to the USGS Newsroom.
NASA and USGS to Host Social Media Event
On May 30, 2013, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission will begin its life's work as an operational mission under the new moniker Landsat 8. Social media users that participate in Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus can register to attend an event in Sioux Falls, SD that will include an official ceremony, tours, and an evening event. Participants that are chosen to attend are responsible for their own travel costs. Registration opens at noon EDT on April 26, 2013. For more information and to register, go to http://landsat.usgs.gov/LDCMSocial.php
First View from the New Landsat Satellite
On March 18, 2013, the newly launched Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) began to send back images of Earth from both of its instruments—the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). One of the satellite's first images is of the area where the Great Plains meet the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado.
“The first OLI and TIRS images look great right out of the box,” said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist. “I have waited a long time to view the first LDCM images and I could not be more impressed with their appearance.”
For more information on the new images go to NASA's Earth Observatory.
Landsat 5 Sets Guinness World Record
Landsat 5 successfully set the new Guinness World Records title for 'Longest-operating Earth observation satellite' as stated in an e-mail from Guinness World Records sent to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Outliving its three-year design life, Landsat 5 delivered high-quality, global data of Earth's land surface for 28 years and 10 months. More >
Countdown to Launch!
Don't miss the upcoming Launch of the next Landsat Mission! Information on viewing the launch, hosting a launch party, media updates, and other interesting items have been added to the Landsat Missions webpage: http://landsat.usgs.gov.
Measuring Glacier Change in the Himalayas
A serious lack of reliable and consistent data severely hampers scientific knowledge about the state of Himalayan glaciers. As a result, the contribution of glacial melt to the Himalayan river basins remains uncertain. This is of grave importance because declining water availability could threaten the food security of more than 70 million people. The UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS) September bulletin urges for improved cross-boundary scientific collaboration and monitoring of Himalayan glaciers to bridge the knowledge gap and allow policy options to be based on appropriate scientific evidence.
Read "Measuring Glacier Change in the Himalayas" athttp://na.unep.net/geas/getUNEPPageWithArticleIDScript.php?article_id=91.
UNEP: Early Warning Systems
UNEP has released a GEAS bulletin titled "Early Warning Systems - A State of the Art Analysis and Future Directions". Early warning technologies have greatly benefitted from recent advances in communication and information technologies and an improved knowledge on natural hazards and the underlying science. Nevertheless many gaps still exist in early warning technologies and capacities — especially in the developing world — and yet a lot has to be done for the development of a global scale multi-hazard system. This in-depth bulletin introduces the basic concepts of early warning systems, the role of earth observation for disasters and environment and focuses on the existing early warning/monitoring systems while addressing the need to fill in the operational gaps for slow-onset hazards both in monitoring, communication, and response phases to facilitate timely decision-making.
Read the bulletin at http://na.unep.net/geas/getUNEPPageWithArticleIDScript.php?article_id=89.
USGS Rolls Out New LandsatLook Viewer
In honor of the 40th Anniversary of the Landsat 1 launch, and in preparation for Landsat 8 in February 2013, the USGS has rolled out a prototype viewer that allows easy access to the over 3 million scenes in the Landsat archive. Find out more about the LandsatLook Viewer. Go to the LandsatLook Viewer.