Views of the News
December 21, 2012 - End of an Era - Mission Accomplished for Landsat 5
Today the U.S. Geological Survey announced that Landsat 5 will be decommissioned over the coming months, bringing to a close the longest-operating Earth observing satellite mission in history. By any measure, the Landsat 5 mission has been an extraordinary success, providing unprecedented contributions to the global record of land change. The USGS has brought the aging satellite back from the brink of failure on several occasions, but the recent failure of a gyroscope has left no option but to end the mission. The image above is one of the first acquired by Landsat 5 on March 6, 1984. Visible is the ice breaking up on Lake Superior near Duluth, Minnesota. (Full Press Release)
November 20, 2012 - Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation in the Black Hills
The mountain pine beetle, a native insect to the Black Hills of South Dakota, has destroyed an estimated 384,000 acres - one third - of the 1.2 million acres of the National Forest System lands in the Black Hills since 1998.
Traditionally the mountain pine beetle has existed in the Black Hills at endemic levels, with periodic outbreaks coinciding with favorable conditions. Thriving in the abundant even-aged, high density ponderosa pine stands, the beetle mass attacks green host trees in late summer, boring under the bark and also spreading a blue-stain fungus, both of which can eventually lead to tree mortality if the mass attack was successful.
The infestation is growing rapidly, doubling from 22,000 new acres affected in 2008 to 44,000 new acres affected in 2009. The beetle infestation has also killed essentially all of the trees in the 13,426 acres of the Black Elk Wilderness.
September 7, 2012 - Hurricane Isaac Flooding
Hurricane Isaac made landfall in the New Orleans area in Louisiana on August 28, 2012, moving very slowly north. New Orleans' levees prevented massive flooding in the city; however, the strong winds, rain, and storm surges caused substantial flooding between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain, northwest of the city, as shown in the Landsat 7 images above. The dark tones in the September 2 image are saturated lands, while the lighter blue tones of the two lakes represent turbid water bodies and sediment flow.
August 24, 2012 - Rush Fire, Over 317,000 acres burned
Started by lightning on the evening of August 12, the Rush Fire, in the Northern California District, has burned more than 317,000 acres. It is now burning in both California and Nevada. The Landsat 7 images above show the growth of the fire as of August 20.
August 15, 2012 - Drought Affects Wildlife Area
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Wetlands Area in central Kansas provides a stopover point for millions of migrating shorebirds, ducks, and geese every fall. The largest interior marsh in the United States, the water levels at Cheyenne Bottoms have dwindled and disappeared due to the second summer of severe drought that's affecting a large percentage of the United States. The Landsat images above show the thousands of acres of shallow water that make up the wetland area in June 2010 and the dry conditions this past July.
August 10, 2012 - Wildfires in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has joined several other states in being struck by wildfires during the widespread drought affecting nearly two-thirds of the conterminous United States this summer. In the August 4 image above, the brown tones represent vegetation destroyed by a fire that developed in late July in the Creek County area of northeastern Oklahoma. The fire burned over 91 square miles, causing a number of residents in Mannford and Kellyville to be evacuated. During the week of August 1, over 18 fires were burning in Oklahoma.
July 11, 2012 - Update on Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado
The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history started on June 23, in the pine forests just northwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The fire spread quickly burning over 5,000 acres by June 26 and more than 18,000 acres the next day. Nearly 350 homes were destroyed when the fire burned into northwest Colorado Springs. Hot, dry weather and shifting winds made battling the fire extremely challenging.
Local attractions such as the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak Highway, and the cog railroad were closed when mandatory evacuation orders were in place.
The Waldo Canyon Fire was 95% contained when this simulated natural color image was acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on July 4, 2012. The black burn scar covers a 29 square-mile area.
ASTER orbits Earth on the Terra spacecraft at an elevation of 438 miles. Terra and ASTER are key components of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth Observing System. ASTER is successfully completing a global mapping mission, with over two million 1,390 square mile multispectral scenes archived since launch in 1999. Data are available from the NASA Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
July 2, 2012 - Missouri River - one year after flooding
In the spring and summer of 2011, the Missouri River experienced extreme flooding. The Landsat images above show Omaha, Nebraska, during the flooding on June 6, 2011, and one year later on June 8, 2012. In these images, the Missouri River is blue and meanders north to south through Omaha. Warm dry weather this year has allowed the river to return to its banks; however, clean-up continues on the highways and areas along the entire river.
June 28, 2012 - Waldo Canyon Fire
On June 23, a wildfire started in the pine forests just northwest of Colorado Springs, CO, and spread quickly. By June 26, it had burned over 5,000 acres. The next day, more than 18,000 acres had been burned. Hot, dry weather and shifting winds have made battling the fire extremely challenging. Local attractions such as the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak Highway, and the cog railroad are closed as mandatory evacuation orders are in place.
June 20, 2012 - Wildfire near Fort Collins, Colorado
The High Park wildfire continues to burn just west of Fort Collins, CO. The burned area, shown in dark red in the June 18 image, shows the nearly 60,000 acres that have burned so far. The fire, which started on June 9 by a lightning strike, destroyed 189 homes as of June 19. Evacuation orders remain in place in many areas. In the June 18 image, clouds hover just north of the burned area, with smoke from the fire visible as blue.