The USGS Eastern Geographic Science Center is conducting research to understand the effects of land cover change due to exploration and development of conventional and unconventional natural gas resources. The signatures associated with these disturbance activities are first extracted from high-resolution aerial and satellite images; then a set of landscape metrics are derived to quantify disturbance effects for further analysis. The forested landscape in the image shows the spatial effects related to natural gas development in northwestern Pennsylvania. A key aspect of the research is to quantify the level of disturbance in terms of land use and land cover change by specific disturbance category (such as well pads, roads, and pipelines).
Landscape impacts from natural gas development in northwestern Pennsylvania