Snow cover strongly influences the energy budget and regional climate of higher latitudes and elevations. The seasonal freeze-thaw (FT) transition is coupled with snowpack melt dynamics and impacts ecological processes, surface-water mobility, and the energy budget. However, understanding of the seasonal transition in the Arctic and boreal region (ABR) is constrained by the sparse distribution of regional weather stations and in-situ observations.
The National Park Service (NPS) has a substantial investment in and a long history of using aerial and spaceborne remote sensing and global positioning system (GPS) technologies. The NPS Inventory & Monitoring Program conducts baseline inventories for more than 270 parks across the Nation. Remote sensing data are a critical source of information regarding geology, soils, vegetation, and infrastructure. Aerial photography and satellite imagery have been utilized to compile vegetation maps; a monumental task given the agency has responsibility for over 30 million acres. These data are particularly critical for NPS activities in Alaska, because of its remote and vast expanses of public land and the fact that the Arctic is warming rapidly in response to climate change. The NPS takes advantage of the free Landsat archive to quantify decadal changes in glacier ice cover and document land cover change in national park units. The NPS has been the Department of Interior’s (DOI) sponsoring agency to map all large wildland and prescribed fires as part of the DOI Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project, using the Landsat archive. GPS supports field data collection, navigation, and search and rescue operations conducted by the agency.
The Everglades National Park (EVER) and Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY) vegetation mapping project is a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The CERP is a cooperative effort between the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the NPS Vegetation Inventory Program (VIP), with funding provided by the NPS VIP and the USACE.
The NPS contracted with ABR, Inc., to develop a map that depicts the day of the year that a Landsat 30-meter pixel becomes snow free during the spring from 1999 to 2015. Annual coverage is available from 2010 to 2015. The project also includes mapping lichen distribution across a large swath of east-central Alaska and the Yukon.
The NPS is using the entire Landsat 30-meter resolution data archive (1980s to the present) to study changes in the total surface area of lakes and ponds in the national parks of northern and central Alaska. A NPS research team used tiled surface reflectance data from the U.S. Geological Survey's U.S. Landsat Analysis Ready Data to map water bodies.
Snowmelt and rain-on-snow (ROS) events enhance the liquid water content of a snowpack, which affects snow properties such as depth, density, grain size, and extent. These changes are associated with transfers of latent and sensible heat and create a positive feedback that accelerates snowmelt processes.
There are 88 NPS park units designated as Ocean and Coastal Parks that encompass 11,000 shoreline miles and 2.5 million acres of ocean and Great Lakes waters. Due to the large and complex nature of these park units, managing natural and cultural resources can be difficult. Benthic (meaning ocean floor or lake bottom) habitat maps are a spatially explicit way to identify submerged features.
Remotely sensed data and derived information contribute significantly to mission-critical work across the Department of the Interior (DOI). This report from the DOI Remote Sensing Working Group (DOIRSWG) highlights a sample of DOI remote sensing applications and illustrates the many types of technology, platforms, and specialized sensors employed.* DOI personnel use remote sensing technology to evaluate and monitor changing land-surface and natural resource conditions over the vast areas for which DOI has responsibility.
The National Space Policy announced by the White House on July 28, 2010 recognized the Department of the Interior's expertise and accomplishments in remote sensing to provide data and advance research for science and natural resource management. This policy states:
The Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), shall:
Remotely sensed data, information, and resources contribute significantly to mission-critical work across the Department of the Interior (DOI). Spanning data sources from aerial photography, to moderate resolution satellite data, to highly specialized imaging sensors and platforms, DOI personnel use remotely sensing capabilities to evaluate and monitor land-surface conditions over the vast areas for which DOI has responsibility.
Remotely sensed data, information, and resources contribute significantly to mission-critical work across the Department of the Interior (DOI). Spanning data sources from aerial photography, to moderate resolution satellite data, to highly specialized imaging sensors and platforms, DOI personnel use remote sensing capabilities to evaluate and monitor land-surface conditions over the vast areas for which DOI has responsibility. This report from the DOI Remote Sensing Working Group (DOIRSWG) provides a sampling of the many applications of remote sensing across the DOI.*