Results of a recently published study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, reveal that faults west of Lake Tahoe, California, represent a substantial seismic hazard to the greater Lake Tahoe region of California and Nevada. The study utilized lidar imagery which is capable of seeing through dense forest cover to reveal active earthquake faults that were not detectable with conventional aerial photography.
Space-based remote sensing techniques are used to monitor volcanic activity around the world, especially for poorly accessible sites.
Land Use and Land Cover Change
The Cold Regions Lake and Landscape Research at the Alaska Science Center studies the Arctic and Subarctic landscape. The primary objective is to understand landscape change in the recent (50 years) and distant (20,000 years) past using a combination of techniques that include remote sensing, GIS, field surveys, laboratory analyses, and model development.
In the late-summer of 2010 and 2011, high-resolution color infrared aerial photography was collected covering the 2.75 million acre Upper Mississippi River System, including the full length of the Illinois River. This photography is being used to create a land cover/land use dataset to compare to datasets that were created previously using 1989 and
The USGS, working in partnership with the interagency Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium, completed a new version of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD). NLCD 2006 is a land cover update for the conterminous United States and quantifies the amount of land cover and urban imperviousness change between 2001 and 2006.
In 2011, the USGS worked closely with ecologists from NPS and NatureServe to produce detailed vegetation datasets and mapping products for the NPS Vegetation Inventory Program. The NPS uses these data to fill and complement a wide variety of resource assessment, management, and conservation needs. Using high resolution digital imagery (12 inch per pixel or better) the USGS helped map vegetation for over 170,000 acres in seven national parks, riverways, and scenic trails. Preliminary plans for mapping 2.2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park is underway.
Remote Sensing Missions
In FY11, the USGS Land Remote Sensing Program and USDA Foreign Agricultural Service partnered to acquire moderate resolution SPOT satellite imagery over a large portion of North America to supplement imagery acquired by the Landsat program. This purchase is referred to as the North American Data Buy (NADB). All imagery received through this mechanism are licensed for use by the Federal civil government, state governments, local governments and tribal governments as well as their project specific partners.
AmericaView (AV) is a national consortium of 37 (in FY11) State-level, university-led institutions that promotes of the use of remotely sensed imagery through education, outreach and research activities. AV's mission involves supporting Federal public domain aerial and satellite imagery, developing and supporting K-12, undergraduate, and graduate remote sensing education, applied remote sensing research, and remote sensing outreach.
The Land Remote Sensing Program of the USGS actively participated in a variety of international forums to improve access to Earth observation data from foreign partners. Since the launch of Landsat 1 in 1972, international cooperators have formed a key strategic alliance with the USGS for direct downlinks of Landsat data and to build the foundation for scientific and technical collaboration. The international cooperators provide critical emergency response support and contribute historical Landsat imagery for the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation.
The Landsat Program is a joint effort of the USGS and NASA to gather Earth resource data using a series of land observing satellites. Whereas NASA’s role is the development and launch of Earth observing instruments and spacecrafts, the USGS is responsible for flight operations, maintenance, and management of all ground data reception, processing, archiving, product generation, and distribution. A primary objective of the Landsat Program is to ensure a collection of consistently calibrated Earth imagery.