In October 2013, heavy seasonal rains were followed by Typhoon Nari to create substantial flooding along the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers in Cambodia in Southeast Asia. The flood affected over a half million people, and over 300,000 hectares (approximately ¾ million acres) of rice fields are believed to have been destroyed.
These images show the drastic landscape change between May 17, 2013, and October 24, 2013. Floodwaters remain high, impacting all aspects of life in the area.
The capital city of Phnom Penh can be seen just south of the image center.
In March 2009, the Andasol-1 solar power station became the first solar thermal collector station in Europe. Andasol-2 and Andasol-3 followed in 2009 and 2011.
Located in southern Spain, these stations are using a very different technology compared to traditional photovoltaic (PV) solar panel collection systems. These parabolic trough power plants absorb the sun’s energy during the day, store it within a “heat reservoir” of molten salt, and then create electricity through the use of thermal turbines. The electricity is then distributed for up to 200,000 people in an environmentally sound fashion at relatively low cost. Due to the extensive cooling needed for a thermal power system, the stations’ location near the Sierra Nevada mountain range provides the critical water supply needed for operations.
These Landsat images, acquired by Landsat 5 in 1987 and Landsat 8 in 2013, show the general area. The solar plant installations can be seen in the center of the 2013 image. The pan-sharpened inset image provides a closer view of the combined systems.
The data collected by Landsat satellites over the past 40 years have contributed to a vast archive of imagery, which can be used to study and monitor changes of the Earth’s surface.
Some parts of Colorado received nearly a year’s worth of rain in just one week in September 2013. This pair of Landsat 8 images from August 16 (left) and September 17, 2013 (right) shows the flooded South Platte River as it flows by Greeley, Colorado, which is on the right side of the images.
Along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains are Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and Boulder, all affected by the flooding. Flooded rivers flow from the mountains, through each of these cities, and into the South Platte.
At the time of the September 17 image, the river had gone down from well over 8 feet above flood stage to 6 feet above flood stage. Farmland and sections of U.S. Highway 34 were still underwater.
The flooding was detrimental to the entire region, causing several highways to be closed, with repairs expected to cost millions. Eight people died in the flooding. About 1,500 homes were destroyed, and thousands more were damaged. Total property loss is estimated at $2 billion.
Heavy rainfall during August 2013 has caused flash flooding in the Inland Delta of the Niger River in Mali in western Africa. Thousands of people in this densely populated floodplain have been displaced, and many homes have been destroyed.
The flooding is dramatic as seen by these Landsat images acquired on June 19, 2013, and September 7, 2013. Future acquisitions will provide views of the water receding and how the delta lands are affected.
The Landsat data archive is valuable for analyzing and monitoring changes on the earth’s surface.
Cubbie Station, Queensland, Australia 1987–2013 September 12, 2013
Cubbie Station is a privately held irrigation project along the Culgoa River in southern Queensland, Australia.
Once grazing land, the area was converted to cotton production in the 1980s, and water storage dams were built during rapid expansion in the 1990s. The project covers about 240,000 acres of the floodplain.
These Landsat images show the area in 1987 and in 2013, where it is easy to see the water containments.
Landsat images give unbiased views of natural or manmade changes made to the Earth’s surface and can inform decisions about natural resource management.
The Madura Strait flows between the Indonesian islands of Java (left) and Madura (right). These images were acquired by three different Landsat satellites in 1994, 2000, and 2013.
The city of Surabaya, Indonesia, sits along the strait on the eastern shore of Java. As one of the busiest ports in the country and a main trading location, the city has seen substantial growth along the shoreline. The area has also seen increased boat traffic through the years.
The Suramadu Bridge, Indonesia’s longest, can also be seen in the bottom right of the 2013 image. Opened in 2009, the bridge spans the 3.3 mile strait between the islands at that location.
Landsat images provide the opportunity to see changes on Earth’s surface.
Rim and American Fires, California, 2013 August 29, 2013
In these images of the Sierra Nevada range, two fires are burning: the Rim Fire at the bottom of the image, and the American Fire west of Lake Tahoe.
The smaller American Fire has burned over 26,000 acres and is nearly contained as of August 29, 2013. However, the Rim Fire in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park has already burned nearly 190,000 acres, and containment efforts continue. Both fires are burning in steep and hazardous terrain, and heavy smoke affects the surrounding area.
The Rim Fire continues to grow to the northeast and east. On the western side of the fire, crews are creating fire lines where they can, but heavy smoke continues to be an issue. Aerial resources are also assisting.
These Landsat images of the eastern stretch of central California were acquired by Landsat 8 on August 15, 2013, and Landsat 7 on August 23, 2013.
Landsat images are used to monitor fires and document burn severity and future vegetation regrowth.
On August 18, 2013, Mount Sakurajima erupted. The eruption lasted for about 50 minutes, sending ash and smoke across the bay into the city of Kagoshima, which is near the southwestern tip of the island of Kyushu in Japan.
These images, acquired by the Landsat 8 satellite on Monday, August 19, 2013, show the remaining smoke continuing to billow from the volcano. The color image uses Landsat bands 4, 3, and 1 from the Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor, and has been sharpened with OLI’s panchromatic Band 8 to show more detail. The black and white image (band 10) was acquired by the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) and displays temperature differences. Warmer surfaces appear light gray to white in the thermal image, while cooler areas appear dark gray to black. While there are a few clouds near the caldera that appear dark because of their cooler temperature, the bright area at the peak of the volcano indicates heat.
Landsat imagery can provide timely views of natural disasters to show the changes on the earth’s surface.
The Bay of Gibraltar, or Bay of Algeciras, is located in Spain at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and opens to the south into the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. The narrow peninsula on the east side of the bay is Gibraltar, which is a territory of Great Britain.
The shoreline is densely populated and includes two major ports, one Spanish and one British. In these images, ships can be seen in and around this busy bay.
These Landsat images acquired in 1987 (left) and 2013 (right) show the increased urban and industrial density along the shoreline. With its 41-year archive and global scope, Landsat data are often used to map changes in land use and land cover.
Mississippi River Flooding Subsiding August 5, 2013
Areas along the Mississippi River experienced flooding in April and June of 2013 due to extremely heavy rainfall. The river was at or near crest in several locations - some areas reaching 10-12 feet above flood stage.
These Landsat images, acquired by the Landsat 8 satellite, show an area of the river that makes up the central Missouri and Illinois state borders. The first image was acquired as the flooding began, on April 20, 2013. According to the Army Corps of Engineers and USGS National Water Information System, peak water levels in this region occurred twice, once on April 25, and again on June 4, 2013. Through summer, the water receded to a more normal stage, as seen in the images from July 9 and July 25, 2013.
Landsat data can be used to monitor water levels and soil moisture throughout the seasons or for extreme events.
In the last two years, fires have burned on either side of the Tanana River, near the city of North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base, south of Fairbanks, Alaska.
These images were acquired by Landsat 8 on May 26 and July 13, 2013. The red area on the west side of the image is the scar left by the Dry Creek Fire that burned over 48,000 acres during summer 2012.
The Stuart Creek 2 Fire started June 19, 2013, in the Chena River State Recreation Area east of the river near Eielson Air Force Base. It has burned over 85,000 acres and is only partially contained as of July 22. Extreme terrain, high vegetation, and dry, windy conditions continue to make firefighting efforts difficult.
So far this summer, over 70 fires have burned over 1 million acres in Alaska.
Landsat data are routinely used for analysis of wildfire pattern, burn severity, and vegetation recovery.
Lake Mead is located on the Colorado River in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by Hoover Dam at the southwest point of the lake, the reservoir is the largest in the United States in maximum water capacity and provides water to millions of residents in the area, including Las Vegas. Hoover Dam provides power for utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California, and is a major tourist attraction with nearly a million people visiting each year.
The lake draws a majority of its water from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains. Since 2000, the water level has been steadily dropping due to less than average snowfall, high levels of evaporation, increased water usage, and recent extensive drought conditions over the western United States. These factors continue to pressure water management resources. The population that depends on the lake for water and on Hoover Dam for electricity continues to grow.
These Landsat 8 images show the differences in the lake from March 24 to July 2, 2013. The inset images give a closer view of the receding water within these 100 days. Recent predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation indicate that by 2016, the lake will be at a critical level that will require further water restrictions and affect the electricity operations of Hoover Dam.
Texas Oil Field Expansion, 1984 to 2013 July 11, 2013
The cities of Odessa (left) and Midland (right) are situated at the northern boundary of the Permian Basin in western Texas, where oil and natural gas production serves as the primary industry.
These images were acquired by the Landsat 5 satellite in 1984 (left) and by the Landsat 8 satellite in 2013 (right). The expansion of the oil industry in this region over the past 29 years can easily be seen by the increase of the white dots that represent well locations.
Landsat satellites provide an unbiased view of the Earth’s surface and change that occurs over time.
Lake Urmia, a salt lake in northwestern Iran, has been home to human settlements since the Stone Age. Currently, the watershed of the lake is an important agricultural region, supporting a population of over 6 million people.
Changes in inflow, caused by diversion of surface water for upstream use, along with the construction of dams and decreased precipitation, have caused the lake to shrink considerably, as can be seen in these images acquired by Landsat 5 in 2000 and Landsat 8 in 2013. Lighter blue colors indicate shallower water.
The vast archive of Landsat imagery provides over 40 years of data and allows scientists, researchers, and decision makers to determine the best course of action for the lake’s future.
The Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs, Colorado, started June 11, 2013. The fire, the state’s most destructive wildfire in history, burned over 14,000 acres, destroyed over 500 homes, forced thousands of people to leave their homes, and killed two residents. The fire was considered 100 percent contained on June 20, 2013.
These Landsat images acquired on April 27, 2013, and June 22, 2013, show the area as seen from Landsat 7 and Landsat 8. The burned area can easily be seen in red tones. The distinct horizontal line that creates the southern boundary of the burned area is Shoup Road; the fire began along the north side of this road. The northern portion of Colorado Springs can be seen in the lower left of the images.
Landsat satellite imagery is a useful resource to officials as they monitor regrowth of the forest and prepare for future events.
Bahr al Milh (also called Lake Razazah) is a salt sea in Iraq, fed by the Euphrates River via canal.
Water levels of the shallow lake vary with the seasons; however, levels have been drastically low in the past decade, as can be seen in these Landsat images from 1995, 2003, and 2013.
The Landsat archive holds millions of images from the past 41 years, providing all users time series views of all areas of the world. Imagery from the new Landsat 8 satellite continues to add to this vast archive.
The city of Dubai is situated along the Persian Gulf in the United Arab Emirates. These Landsat 7 images show the area in 2000 and 2012, and give a remarkable view of the changes that have taken place—both on land and in the water.
In 2001, work began to create artificial archipelagos along the shoreline of Dubai. The Palm Jebel Ali and smaller Palm Jumeirah are two “Palm Islands” that can be seen in the 2012 imagery. North from the Palm Islands is a group of smaller islands, created in the rough shape of a world map. Known as “The World,” this small area has created an additional 144 miles of shoreline.
The 40-year archive of Landsat data is useful to scientists, public and government officials, and others interested in detecting changes on Earth’s surface.
The Lower Mississippi River alluvial valley and the adjacent upland are distinct and highly diverse landscapes. The floodplain, by the very geologic processes that created it, has rich organic soils with a mix of cropland, forests, and forested wetlands. The agricultural diversity is high, ranging from rice and catfish to corn and soybeans. The uplands are mostly small-scale farmland, with hardwood forest or a mixed forest of hardwood and pine.
In this stunning Landsat 7 image of the Lower Mississippi on February 16, 2013, forests in the uplands are green (pine forests a slightly darker shade). Bare soil or soil with light vegetation cover appear in shades of pink and purple, and the bright lime green fields are areas with newly emergent crops or vegetation.
The Landsat mission is a global mission that captures images around the globe, every day of the year. While this image may be useful for a number of practical management uses, such as monitoring agriculture or evaluating long-term effects of drought, some images are particularly striking for their beauty.
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), the next generation Landsat satellite, is scheduled for launch at 10:02 a.m. PST on Monday, February 11, 2013. The LDCM spacecraft will be launched atop an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California. The public is invited to view the launch from Providence Landing Park in Lompoc.
Since 1972, Landsat satellites have created an archive of images that document the surface of Earth. LDCM, to be called Landsat 8 after on-orbit checkout, will continue this tradition, using new instruments, additional multispectral bands, and a higher standard of data. Detailed information can be found at http://landsat.usgs.gov.
This Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) image, acquired on February 8, 2011, shows the area of the Vandenberg Air Force Base. Areas of interest to the LDCM launch are labeled.
In the summer of 2012 a series of fires burned the Cerrado savanna in northeastern Brazil. The savanna lies along the Gurgueia River and divides agricultural lands and portions of the Atlantic Dry Forest.
Landsat imagery illustrate conditions before, during, and after the fires. The magenta tone of the August 17 and September 18 images shows the progress of the fires in the savanna and the smaller fire outbreaks in the nearby agricultural and forest lands. The October 4 image, acquired after the major burns, shows the natural rehabilitation of the savanna grasslands.
The Landsat data provide regional officials with perspectives for measuring and monitoring the effects of the fires and the rate of change after the fires.
Extremely hot and dry weather in southern Australia has led to a number of brush fires. On the island of Tasmania, south of the Australian continent, fires that started in early 2013 have already burned over 148,000 acres. Losses have reached $43 million and are likely to exceed $100 million. In the township of Dunalley over 40% of the structures have been destroyed. There are no reported deaths caused by the fires, though over 100 persons are listed as missing.
Firefighters are beginning to contain the fires; cooler weather is forecast in the near future, though the forecast also includes increased winds.
Landsat satellite data, acquired on February 3, 2012, show conditions under “normal” circumstances; January 4, 2013, imagery show the burned areas and smoke rising from active fires. The Landsat data will be used to monitor current conditions and to measure the impact of the fires on regional land cover as the Australian government eventually moves to reclamation efforts.
Land reclamation along Florida's coast January 4, 2013
In the early 20th century a number of parcels along Florida's coasts were developed as resort sites. Swamps were filled, causeways built, and housing established, providing significant revenues for the state and areas for an expanding senior citizen population. An example of this kind of coastal development is Marco Island, a 6700 acre unit off the western coast of Florida. Attempts were made as early as 1900 to develop the island. However, economic difficulties and the natural habitat (the Florida Everglades are within 20 miles) made development a challenge. At one point owners offered the site, for a fee, to the state as a nature preserve.
In the 1960's a group that had previous success in developing Key Biscayne on the east Florida coast began development. They filled the swamps, constructed an airport runway, found fresh water, and built roads, connecting the island to the mainland. By 2000, luxury resorts lined the beaches, a business district was established, and lots for family housing were made available. Aerial photography acquired in 1950 and 1989 and Landsat satellite data acquired in 2011 illustrate how developers have altered the coastal areas and established valuable sites in previously marginal human habitat areas. The aerial photography and Landsat acquisitions are used by regional planners and state officials to monitor the changing landscape of the coastal regions.
Urban Growth: The Minnesota Twin Cities December 20, 2012
Landsat satellite data are frequently used by regional and state officials to monitor and measure urban growth. Data acquired over the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1988 and 2011 illustrate the expansion of the population centers in a major economic region of the Upper Midwest.
In the 1950s and 1960s the region relied heavily on industrial activity. Automobile plants and grain mills dominated the economic growth of communities. The population of the greater Twin Cities area, including 334 smaller cities and townships, was approximately 1,482,030 in 1960. As the industrial plants declined, many people moved to the suburbs for retail jobs and lower living costs.
The slow decline changed with the growth of high tech, finance, and information technology industries. The many suburbs grew together and became known as the “Greater Twin Cities.” By 2011 the population had grown to 3,655,558. Improved transportation options facilitated the growth.
Planners and commercial analysts are using the Landsat data to mark the changes and to plan future transportation options and ways to accommodate the increased demand for services.
Mar Chiquita is the largest of the naturally occurring saline lakes in Argentina. The feeder systems for the lake include the Dulce River from the north, and the Primero/Suquia and Segundo/Xanaes Rivers from the south.
The Dulce River, as the principle feeder, has a heavy saline content, and increased drawing of the river upstream for irrigation has affected the levels of the lake. Additionally, long drought periods have diminished recharge capabilities.
The result is a diminished lake size and increased salinity. Environmental studies are continuing to measure the regional impact of the changes to lake size and quality. Landsat satellite imagery, acquired in 1988 and 2011, are useful for illustrating the changes.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park November 29, 2012
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park located in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. Originally a National Monument, the area was given the distinction of National Park in September 2004. It is the newest of the United States National Parks.
Situated at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, the tallest sand dunes in North America can be seen in these Landsat images, acquired in 1987 and 2011. Evident in these images are the changes in the stream flows of the San Luis Valley. The water flows change from year to year and season to season. Water access is especially critical in the region as center pivot irrigation systems (shown as circular features west of the feeder streams) rely on aquifer recharges.
Plymouth is situated along Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. Plymouth holds a place of great prominence in American history, folklore, and culture, and is known as “America’s Hometown.” The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower, and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. An early celebration has been called the first Thanksgiving.
While the USGS archive of aerial photography and satellite imagery does not span back to the 1600s, the millions of aerial and satellite observations held in the archive can provide the opportunity to see change over time for most places on earth. These images of Plymouth show the area in 1960, 1995, and 2005.
Lake Ayakkum is located near the northern boundary of the Tibetan Plateau in central China.
Many closed basin saline lakes in Central Asia have been shrinking because of the construction of dams and aqueducts, as well as human expansion into previously uninhabitable desert areas. Lake Ayakkum, however, has been growing, as shown in these Landsat images acquired in 1992, 2003, and 2012. Increasing flows from small glacier- and snowmelt-fed streams help feed the lake. The development of a delta can be seen in the southwest portion of the lake.
Mapping and monitoring saline lakes with satellite imagery provides researchers and scientists a unique view of the changing lake dynamics, allowing them to assist decision makers who then can determine the best actions for water resource and ecosystem protection.
The Al Farafra Oasis has resulted in a greening of the desert in western Egypt. Unlike many newly developed agricultural efforts, these fields are not based on deep-well irrigation, but on surface water associated with the oasis.
These Landsat images acquired on January 30, 1987, and October 25, 2012, show the increased agricultural activity in the area around the town of Qasr al Farafra. Improved infrastructure, such as paved roads, has increased accessibility to Qasr al Farafra. This ease of access has brought in agricultural laborers and tourists alike.
Landsat images are useful worldwide to visualize and map changes in land use.
Future of 90-year old Yosemite Reservoir in Question October 26, 2012
The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is a reservoir in Yosemite National Park in California. Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, residents needed a source of clean water. While the project was strongly opposed by environmentalists, in 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act, which allowed the dam to be built in 1923 along the Tuolumne River. The reservoir holds over 117 billion gallons of water and serves as a water supply for more than 30 cities in the area.
Many studies through the years have focused on wanting to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural state and establish reforestation and habitats. Restoration of the Valley by removing the dam is on the California state November ballot. If restoration passes, plans will be made for water conservation practices in the cities affected, and pre-dam conditions will be restored.
The USGS archive of satellite imagery has proven useful by providing a historical view of the area. Landsat imagery from 1985 and 2011 show the areas and water fluctuations of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (long water body on the right side of the image), along with Cherry Lake (far left) and Lake Eleanor (central), which are also reservoirs for the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir System. The light tones along the shorelines in the 1985 imagery show diminished water levels that year.
Lightning started the Mustang Complex Fire in northeastern Idaho on July 30, 2012, and soon had consumed more than 330,000 acres of mountainous pine forests in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. By the end of September the U.S. Forest Service announced the fire had been "significantly moderated and rehabilitation is beginning." Still, high winds and extreme drought continue to hamper the efforts of those working to extinguish the flames, and many homes continue to be threatened.
Landsat imagery illustrate the conditions related to the fire. An image acquired on July 21, 2012, shows the area before the fire. A Landsat image acquired on September 7 shows the devastating effects of the still active fire. The imagery are being used to track the growth and moderation of the burn and to monitor the land cover destroyed.
Étang Saumâtre and Lago Enriquillo October 4, 2012
Étang Saumâtre and Lago Enriquillo are saline lakes found in Hispaniola’s rift valley along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Since both lakes are in a depression, there is no outflow to drain the lakes, so they are at the mercy of evaporation, rainfall variability, and runoff from the surrounding countryside. These three Landsat images from 1986, 2004, and 2012 show how dramatically the lake levels can fluctuate.
In recent years, the water levels have been rising due to increased rainfall, which has been made worse by increased runoff and sedimentation from the reduction of forests. These higher lake levels have flooded the towns and agricultural lands on the shores of the lakes and have occasionally blocked the road between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Landsat data are useful to scientists, managers, and policy planners as they study how natural variation, such as rainfall, and human changes, such as deforestation, can affect lake levels with often unexpected consequences.
A large grass fire that started August 2 burned over 58,000 acres of grassland and destroyed over 380 homes in Creek County, Oklahoma. Residents of small towns in the path of the fire were evacuated in this drought stricken area west of the city of Tulsa. The fire was extinguished within days and residents were allowed back by the end of the month. An arson suspect has been charged for starting the fire. With daytime temperatures frequently topping 100 degrees, efforts to contain and control wildfires in western states have become increasingly difficult.
Landsat images, acquired on June 17 and August 20 of 2012, show fire scars as well as the diminished regional river and reservoir levels. The images are being used by state and regional managers to evaluate the extent of the burn and the vegetation affected by the fire.
The Lakes of Eastern Day County, South Dakota September 18, 2012
Day County, located in the northeastern corner of South Dakota, sits within the Coteau des Prairies – a plateau created from deposits derived from repeated glaciation. Many small lakes occur in this region due to a perched water table. In the past 20 years, lake waters have been swallowing up land, roads, and homes in the region. The area around the town of Waubay, which is noted on these Landsat images acquired in 1991 and 2011, is particularly affected.
Bitter Lake, south of Waubay, is the southern boundary for the water flowing from Waubay, Blue Dog, and Rush Lakes from the north, and has no established outlet for the water to flow further south. As in many prairie pothole lakes, the main sources of water loss are evaporation and seepage into groundwater, instead of river drainage. During this regionally wet time, the groundwater levels rise, so evaporation is the only option for reduced lake levels. As Bitter Lake waters continue to rise, the entire area floods, consuming more land that was once farm fields, pasture ranges, and homesteads.
The 40-year archive of Landsat imagery is an effective resource for seeing the land change from space.
The 2012 drought, which has affected much of the cropland in the Midwest and the western United States, has also had a major effect on the level of the Mississippi River. The diminishing flow of the river has delayed barge traffic and movement of cargoes to ports at the lower mouth of the river.
40% of the conterminous United States drains into the Mississippi River. The drought, which has diminished the flow from feeder streams, has led to a 30–50 foot drop in the river level. A drop of one foot lessens the amount of cargo that can be carried downstream by 200 tons.
Landsat imagery illustrating water levels in the St. Louis, Missouri, region demonstrate the change in recent years. The 2010 image shows “normal” conditions. The river level forms a uniform line and oxbow lakes east of the river provide water for nearby crops. The 2011 image, acquired after major flooding, shows water boundaries similar to the 2010 view. However, the 2012 image shows a more narrow river with white tones representing exposed sand bars and exposed shorelines. One of the oxbow lakes is nearly dry and the larger lake has shrunk.
Fires continue to destroy residences, grassland cover, and forests in the western United States. Landsat images, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the damage caused by fires in the Nevada/Oregon border region.
The June 26, 2012, image shows the area before a series of fires developed.
The August 13 image shows the effects of contained and active fires. The Holloway fire started by a lightning strike on August 6 and by August 13 had burned over 400,000 acres. While much of the fire has been contained, the active fire can be seen on the northern edge of the fire scar.
Southeast of the Holloway fire are the scars of the Long Canyon fires (34,000 acres burned). A small remnant of that fire is still active. Southeast of the Long Canyon fire is the burn scar of the Hanson fire (12,000 acres). Northeast of the Holloway fire is the burn scar from the July Long Draw fire (550,000 acres).
Landsat satellite data, archived by the U.S. Geological Survey, have proven useful for studying land surface changes over time. Images of the Mount St. Helens region in southwestern Washington illustrate the conditions before, shortly after, and decades after the eruptions of the Mount St. Helens volcano in 1980. That eruption was the most economically destructive eruption in United States history.
The 1974 image shows the snow on the southern slopes and the heavy forests surrounding the volcano.
In the spring of 1980, a series of eruptions, climaxed by a May 18 massive eruption, destroyed river channels, homes, and heavy forests. The 1980 Landsat image, acquired months after the May eruption, shows the resulting flow of lava and ash.
By 2011, much of the region had recovered. Forests and grasslands have regrown and the lakes and rivers have been recharged. A small section on the northern slope of the volcano is still dominated by ash, preventing extensive vegetation growth.
The Philippine capital of Manila, situated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, is the most densely populated city in the world, with over 1.6 million inhabitants in an area covering 38.5 square kilometers; the greater metro area covers 638 square kilometers, with a population of over 11 million. The impacts of the growing population create serious infrastructure and environmental problems in the areas of land, water, air, sewerage, drainage, waste, and traffic. The Pasig River, which cuts through the urban area, is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
Landsat imagery acquired in 1989 and 2012 illustrate the rapid growth of the urban area. The data are used to monitor and measure the rate and direction of growth and are useful for planning resources and environmental protection to adjust to the growth.
On July 23, the Landsat system will celebrate 40 years of continuous observations of the land forms of the planet. Over 7 million separate scenes have been collected by the six satellites in the series. The data from the satellites provide a permanent, objective record of land conditions and are routinely used to measure and monitor changes brought on by natural and anthropogenic events and actions. Floods, fires, tsunamis, urban growth, highway construction, mining, and clear cutting of tropical zone forests are among the studies illustrated by the data collected by Landsat satellites.
In 1972, the color infrared image processed from Landsat data illustrates the greater Washington, D.C. area. Intense red tones indicate forests and large grassy areas. Light tones indicate cleared fields and the highly reflective impervious areas of urban development, highways, and airport runways. The resolution of 1972 Landsat data was no better than 79 m. By 2012, Landsat sensors were offering data at 30 m, expanded band options, and limited 15 m data.
A comparison of the two images illustrates the significant growth in the greater D.C. area. Major urban development can be seen in surrounding communities including Rockville, Greenbelt, and Suitland, Maryland. The expanded Woodrow Wilson Bridge, connecting Springfield, Virginia, with Oxon Hill, Maryland, is evident, as is the Lake Barcroft reservoir between Falls Church and Alexandria.
The record of surface change is being used by urban planners and local and regional officials to evaluate the rate and direction of growth in the area.
Wildfires are doing severe damage in a number of western U.S. states. Extremely dry conditions, stiff winds, unusually warm weather, and trees killed by pine bark beetle outbreaks have created a situation in which major fires thrive. 52 active fires in a number of states have destroyed over 900,000 acres. Since the beginning of 2012, 27,000 fires have destroyed 1.9 million acres.
The immediate impact is loss of property and lives. Longer term, the exposed soil profiles, especially in steep-sloped regions, will affect erosion, make the areas vulnerable to potential flooding, and affect water quality.
Landsat satellite data are being used to record the rate of burning, extent of damage, and the results of efforts to control the burns. The data will be used by resource managers to monitor regrowth and rehabilitation after the fires are controlled.
The above examples illustrate the effects of fires in Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.
Agriculture transforms Egyptian Desert July 5, 2012
The Natron Valley is a natural depression of salt flats in the western desert of Egypt, northwest of Cairo (seen above as blue features in the center of the images). Ancient Egyptians extracted Natron salt from the shallow lakes for mummification purposes. This desolate area, considered a sacred region, became a sanctuary for the desert peoples and for cenobitic monastic communities.
Over the years, agricultural areas have begun to move from the fertile soils of the Nile River, which is to the east. While most fields are irrigated by water from the Nile, high water tables have allowed the use of groundwater to support additional vegetable crops.
These Landsat images, acquired in 1984 and again in 2012, show in green the expanding agricultural areas. Forty years of Landsat imagery can show change over time and are useful to decision makers and others interested in the Earth's changing surface.
Missouri River near Omaha, NE - one year after flooding June 26, 2012
In the spring and summer of 2011, the Missouri River experienced extreme flooding. Triggered by record snowfall in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming, along with near-record spring rainfall in central and eastern Montana, reservoir levels approached dangerously high levels along the Missouri River in Montana and the Dakotas. To manage reservoir levels, a record amount of water was released to prevent overtopping of dams, which then contributed to flooding downstream.
These Landsat images show the Omaha, Nebraska, area during the flooding in June 2011, and again recently on June 8, 2012. During the flooding, two major interstate highways, I-29 and I-680, were flooded, resulting in disrupted traffic patterns and damage to the roadways. Warm, dry weather has allowed the river to return to its banks, while cleanup continues on the highways and areas along the entire Missouri River.
The 40 years of images in the Landsat archive is useful for context of widespread events, such as the 2011 Missouri River flooding, and aids in future planning and improvements for future potential catastrophic events.
High Park Fire, Colorado - June 2012 June 21, 2012
Sparked by lightning on June 9, 2012, the High Park Fire has burned over 58,000 acres near and in Roosevelt National Forest, just west of Fort Collins, Colorado. High temperatures and strong winds have hampered efforts to extinguish the blaze; on June 19, 2012, it was reported that approximately 50% of the fire had been contained.
These Landsat images show the area west of Fort Collins the year before the fire on June 8, 2011, and again on June 18, 2012. As firefighting efforts continue, Landsat images are useful to monitor the area before and during the fire, as well as into the future to discern regrowth and restoration of the forested area.
Located in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas of North America. There is evidence of settlements 3,000 years ago. A mission was established in the region in 1700, and a community developed within 75 years. Until 1853, Tucson was part of Mexico.
As with many western cities, Tucson was organized on a grid pattern. Historically, military bases, the University of Arizona, tourism, and transportation hubs provided the employment in the area. The population of the greater Tucson area has gone from approximately 600,000 in 1980 to over one million in 2011. The rapid growth in the past 30 years is due in part to the rapid growth of advanced technology firms which have located in the city.
Landsat 5 satellite images show the area and how the city has expanded from 1984. Growth has been largely in the eastern region as the mountains on the north, west, and south restrict development.
Landsat imagery is useful for city leaders and decision makers for monitoring rate and direction of growth, and for evaluating needed water and transportation resources.
Leslie Street Spit and Tommy Thompson Park June 14, 2012
Leslie Street Spit and Tommy Thompson Park
Tommy Thompson Park is located on Leslie Street Spit, a man-made peninsula that extends about 3 miles into Lake Ontario.
Construction of the spit began in the late 1950s, and it has been the site for the disposal of dredged material from the Outer Harbor and surplus fill from development sites within Toronto.
The park was established on the spit in 1995 and provides critical habitat for many birds and animals as well as aquatic species. The biological diversity makes it home to many research and monitoring projects, as well as an urban wilderness for Toronto residents.
These Landsat images from 1973, 1987, and 2011 show the growth of the spit over the years as material was added and eventually transformed into a more permanent site.
Landsat satellite data are proving useful for monitoring and measuring the effects of wildfires across the western United States in 2012. Images acquired before, during, and after fires give state and regional authorities objective scientific data on the rate of burning, the land cover affected, and extent of the damage inflicted.
In late July, a large fire developed in the Creek County area in northeastern Oklahoma. Within days, over 91 square miles were burned and a number of residents in Mannford and Kellyville were evacuated. Some homes were destroyed, though no serious injuries were reported. The brown tones in the August 4 image represent vegetation destroyed by the fire.
Firefighters labeled this fire a “Monster” fire as it grew rapidly. The week of August 1, over 18 fires were burning in Oklahoma, stretching firefighting resources. By the end of the week, cooler temperatures and light rain aided the firefighters as they worked to contain the damage and spread of the burns.
The Mirani Dam is located on the Dasht River in southern Pakistan. Completed in 2006, the dam created a reservoir with a depth of 244 feet. The reservoir provides water for irrigation, clean drinking water, hydroelectric power, and flood control.
Though the dam provides a constant supply of water for irrigation and human consumption, heavy rains in 2007 raised the reservoir to 271 feet, and over 15,000 people were displaced when a number of small communities were flooded. Legal actions are in process to help the displaced citizens and to adjust the water levels.
Landsat images show the Mirani Dam area in 1999 and 2011. The images show the development of the reservoir and the expanded agricultural activities in the region, activities supported by the irrigation resources provided by the dam.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the effects of Hurricane Isaac on land between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain northwest of New Orleans, Louisiana.
The hurricane made landfall in the region on August 28, 2012, and moved very slowly north. While levees in the New Orleans area prevented massive flooding in that city, strong winds, rain, and storm surges caused massive flooding in the region between the lakes.
The green tones in the images represent vegetation. The black features are the two lakes. The dark tones in the September 2 image show saturated lands. The lighter blue tones of the two lakes represent turbid water bodies and sediment flow.
The Landsat imagery will be used by regional and federal officials to evaluate the extent of flooding, and the August 1 and September 2 images will provide a base information set for reclamation and remediation after the storm weakens.
Landsat imagery acquired in 2011 and 2012 illustrate the changes to the Elwha River basin in the Washington State Olympic Peninsula after the removal of the Elwha River dam.
The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were constructed in the 1920s to provide hydroelectric power to the region. Over subsequent decades the dams became less efficient, the machinery outdated, and the reservoirs heavily silted. Further, the dams prevented salmon from reaching upstream habitat.
In 1992, Congress authorized the removal of the dams. The Elwha dam was removed in early 2012, and the Glines Canyon dam is scheduled for removal by late 2013.
The Landsat images show the impact of dam removal. The reservoir behind the dam is gone, the exposed silt deposits are gradually being removed, and natural river flow, important to salmon habitat, is being restored.
Large areas of the western United States have been affected by the drought of 2012. For example, Landsat images, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, provide a record of the effects of the drought on the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Wetlands area in central Kansas.
As the largest interior marsh in the United States, Cheyenne Bottoms provides a resting place for millions of migrating birds every fall. As the water levels dwindle and disappear, wildlife officials are concerned that the effects could be devastating for the habitat. In 2010 there was sufficient water in the wetland area; in 2011 and into the spring of 2012, the levels had already started to diminish. From May 30 to July 17 of 2012, virtually all the water had evaporated from the habitat area.
Landsat data offer objective, scientifically reliable information on the effects of climate change to land areas. In the case of the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Wetlands area, Landsat data are useful to officials as they determine what actions to take to sustain a habitat for the nesting waterfowl.
The Chilean capital of Santiago sits in the center of the Santiago Basin, a large bowl-shaped valley that consists of fertile lands surrounded by mountains. The city is bordered by the main chain of the Andes Mountains on the east and the Chilean Coastal Range on the west.
The Santiago population has steadily increased over the years, and that has led to expanded development in all directions, including into the foothills of the mountain ranges. Increasingly, agricultural lands have been replaced by urban growth.
Landsat data acquired in 1985 and 2010 illustrate the growth of the capital area. To accommodate the demands of a growing metropolitan area, the Santiago International Airport, which sits northwest of the city, was expanded in 1994. The Vespucio Norte and Vespucio Sur highways surround the city completing a nearly full circle.
Landsat images are helpful to local and regional officials to monitor the rate and direction of urban growth as they make decisions about resources and land use changes near the mountain areas.
On May 22, 2011, the city of Joplin, Missouri, was devastated by a catastrophic EF5 multiple vortex tornado. Estimated wind speed peaked at 225 to 250 miles per hour. The tornado caused estimated damages of $2.8 billion, killed 161 people, and injured nearly 1,000 more. Nearly 7,000 homes were destroyed, and many more were damaged. This storm ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornados and is the costliest single tornado in U.S. history. The cost to rebuild Joplin could reach $3 billion.
These Landsat images show the area of Joplin, Missouri, on May 7, 2011, on June 8, 2011, after the tornado touched down, and again recently on May 8, 2012. The June 2011 image shows the track taken by the tornado through the city. One year later, the path can still be seen, but work continues to restore the damaged community, with more than 760,000 hours of service being dedicated to rebuilding the city. A Day of Unity memorial walk is planned on May 22, 2012, to observe the first anniversary of the deadly twister.
The nearly 40-year archive of Landsat imagery proves useful to create a story of the land changes over time. Imagery is useful for emergency coordinators and city leaders to make informed decisions for the futures of their communities.
In the last decade, Florida has had dramatic population growth. As the U.S. population ages, more older people are moving from the northern states to southern communities and Florida has been a major objective for many. While the growth in population has slowed the last few years, since 2000 Florida’s population has grown by 17%, well above the National average of 9.7%. Sumpter County in central Florida grew 75%, largely due to the expansion of The Villages retirement community. The Villages is a master planned retirement community, complete with nearly 40 golf courses.
Started modestly as a mobile home park in the early 1980s, The Villages was the fastest growing micropopulation area in the United States by 2008. Throughout the years, growth continued and the area expanded, which brings challenges as the changing land uses impact natural resources and the landscape.
Landsat scenes, acquired in 1984 and 2011, illustrate the growth in the community and the changes in land use patterns. Agricultural land has been replaced by over 40 golf courses, small water bodies (shown as black) have been converted to water hazards on the golf courses and some lakes have been drained to provide irrigation, and residential communities (very light tones) have grown around the golf courses. Local, state, and federal officials use the Landsat data to monitor the rate of development and the impact on resources as population changes affect land use.
In 1949, the Cedar Bluff Dam was constructed along the Smoky Hill River in Kansas to mainly provide irrigation to the area, but also to help with flood control, establish fish and wildlife habitats, develop recreation sites, and provide water for municipal and industrial uses.
In the late 1960's and into the 1970's, the flow of the river declined dramatically, and by the early 1980's, not enough water was available for irrigation. By 1992, all associations and activities regarding irrigation and the delivery systems dissolved, though other uses were retained.
Even though the primary use of the dam was lost, the water levels of the reservoir have increased over the years, and now is a popular recreation site, while still offering flood control and water for municipal uses and local industries.
Landsat images acquired in 1980, 1986, and 2012 show the changes to water levels in the reservoir. While levels may fluctuate from year to year, the general area of the reservoir remains high. The forty year Landsat archive provides data on the land surface variations. Data from Landsat observations are used by decision makers to determine how to best use natural resources and to monitor water body conditions.
Located on the coast of the Bohai Sea Region, the Binhai New Area has quickly become a major industrial center in China. The area southeast of the capital of Beijing, once home to salt farms, reed marshes, and wasteland, has become one of the country's key economic areas. The decision to develop the area began in the 1990s, and to date, the bay area is home to numerous aerospace, oil and chemical, and other manufacturing industries. The development will include an international airport in the coming years.
The changes over 20 years can be seen in these Landsat images acquired in 1992 and 2012. Landsat imagery are used to study land use change along the shorelines, and to assist regional authorities in monitoring the associated effects to water bodies and ecosystems.
Uravan, Colorado 1944, 1978, 1986, 2011 April 16, 2012
Uravan is an abandoned uranium mining town in western Colorado. Established in 1936 to extract vanadium ore, the mining community provided uranium for the first atomic bomb during World War II. The aerial photograph from 1944 shows the area in early development. Uranium mining and product demand declined in the 1960s and collapsed by the early 1980s. The 1978 aerial photograph shows the full extent of the land utilized for the mining activity. The 1986 Landsat image shows the area in the year that environmental cleanup began. A massive reclamation effort is underway to restore the site, as depicted in the 2011 Landsat image.
Note: the blue tones in the satellite imagery represent water in the open mines and in the settling ponds.
The USGS archives hold over 70 years of remotely sensed imagery, including Landsat and various aerial photography collections. These images provide the opportunity to tell the stories of how the Earth changes over time. Scientists, regional environmental planners, and educators use the aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the changes caused by natural and anthropogenic activities.
Resolutions of USGS archive data restrict the ability to show the same area and maintain high image quality.
Salmon River Reservoir, New York 1985-2011 April 5, 2012
The Salmon River Reservoir in central New York state was created in 1914 when a hydroelectric power dam was constructed. The reservoir is a major source for electrical power generation, flood control, and recreation for the region.
Water levels fluctuate quickly with spring showers and winter snow melt. Landsat satellite data, acquired since 1985, illustrate the steady increase in the size of the reservoir. A major cause of the expansion shown in 2011 imagery was the record rainfall in the region in September 2010. Lowland flooding occurred after the rain and the reservoir proved critical in holding back waters which would have caused extensive destruction of shoreline property downstream.
Landsat imagery is useful for land managers and other officials to monitor the changes to the river and is one source for information for decision making concerning additional growth or diversion of the water in this area.
Landsat satellite data are increasingly used to track natural and anthropogenic changes to the land surface features of the planet. Changes to Bear Glacier in south central Alaska are illustrated by comparing 1980, 1989, and 2011 Landsat coverage.
Warming in the region has caused less buildup of snow, providing less material for glacial growth. As the glacier receded, ice at the end of the glacier broke off the main body, forming blocks of ice in the open water. The 2011 image shows considerable retreat of the tongue of the glacier.
The Landsat data are useful for study as the archive allows change over time sequences, the synoptic view allows a broad perspective of regions, and the observations can be acquired over areas where access is challenging.
A new airport was authorized for the Denver, Colorado, area in 1989. In 1995, the Denver International Airport officially opened and replaced the Stapleton International Airport servicing the Denver region.
Landsat satellite data illustrate the changes in the area from before the construction and after the new airport was completed. Denver International Airport covers 53 square miles, making it the largest airport in the United States and the third largest in the world. Located 25 miles from downtown Denver, it is the 10th busiest airport in the world.
The completion of the airport has had a significant effect on the immediate area. Hotels, manufacturing, and residential development have expanded, covering previous farm land. The growth has had a major impact on tax revenues and population needs for the Aurora, Colorado, community.
The Landsat data are used by regional and local officials to monitor the rate and direction of the expanded development caused by the siting of the airport.
Pine Island is one of the largest and fastest-moving glaciers in Antarctica. Satellite measurements have shown that the Pine Island Glacier Basin has a greater net contribution of ice to the sea than any other ice drainage basin in the world, and this has increased due to recent acceleration of the ice stream due to thinning of the glacier. As the ice shelf thins, the grounding line retreats and the speed of the glacier increases. As it sits on bedrock below sea level and drains about 10 percent of the West Antarctica ice sheet, scientists are concerned about the impact Pine Island's continued thinning will have on sea level.
Landsat satellite imagery acquired in January 2011 shows a series of splits along the western edge of the glacier. The same area in January 2012 shows a major break which eventually will extend all the way across the glacier and calve a giant iceberg that is expected to cover about 350 square miles (900 square kilometers).
Scientists will use the Landsat imagery to follow the breaking of the glacier and the movement of the icebergs as they drift from the ice shelf.
Gold mining in California dates back over 200 years and has been an important industry for the state. The Mesquite Mine was established in 1957 and expanded in 1986 as gold prices climbed and the mine is now one of the largest gold mines in the country. While geologists anticipated the mine's gold would be exhausted by 1999, improved extraction methods have kept the mine in production.
The mine is in the Mojave Desert, surrounded by a frail ecosystem. Consequently, the gold extraction methods, using cyanide washes, are carefully monitored using field samples, aerial photography, and satellite imagery. Additionally, plans are underway for a major landfill to collect waste products shipped from Los Angeles, 200 miles away. The landfill will be adjacent to the mine operation, increasing the need to monitor land use changes.
Landsat imagery acquired in 1982, 1987, and 2011 show the growth of the mine and the imagery provides an important tool for monitoring regional development.
Urban Growth of the Montgomery, Alabama, Area January 19, 2012
Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, is located along the Alabama River in the south central portion of the state.
In the past 30 years the population has grown from just under 125,000 to over 200,000. The growth has been based on increased tourism and commercial and industrial development. For example, Hyundai automobile manufacturing has located in Montgomery and is now a major employer.
These Landsat images show the area of Montgomery and nearby Prattville (northern urban area across the river) in 1986 and again in 2011. The change in land use from forested and croplands to urban and industrial areas can be seen by comparing the two images.
In recent years city officials implemented an ecosystem analysis project utilizing Landsat data to assess the tree cover changes through the years. The changing land use has been a major factor in altering regional air quality, crop production, and lumber production.
Landsat satellite data are frequently used to monitor conditions during and after natural and anthropogenic changes to the land surface of the planet.
In 2005, large fires caused extensive damage to forested regions in the Cordillera Central, the mountains in the Dominican Republic. The fires started in the José del Carmen Ramirez National Park, on the lower reaches of Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the Dominican Republic. The flames raced up the mountain, consuming the pine, palm, and broadleaf rainforests that grow at higher elevations.
A Landsat 7 image, acquired on March 21, showed the extent of the major fire units. The newly burned mountain slopes are dark brown, while unburned forest is green. The hot fire fronts glow red, revealing the extent of the active fires. Thick smoke, tinted blue in this image, rises from the fires.
A Landsat image acquired in July 2005 shows the extent of the fire scars (brown tones) and grasses growing more quickly (light green) than tree stands.
The February 2011 image shows the regrowth of the forest lands. The fire scars are covered by darker green tones representing developing forest lands.
Beyond the impact of the fires on forests, regional and international teams study the rate of regrowth as the newly exposed, steep sloped soils are more vulnerable to erosion, thus affecting water quality in down slope rivers, which are the principle source of drinking water for the region.
Rising Water Changes Caspian Shoreline January 6, 2012
While water levels of the Caspian Sea have historically fluctuated, the area has seen increasing water volume in the past two decades. The largest inland mass of water (with no outlet) is greatly influenced by the Volga River, which provides more than 80% of the lake.s volume. The Caspian, identified as either an inland sea or the largest lake in the world, is fed by over 120 rivers, but the Volga is the dominant source. Upstream precipitation in the greater Volga Basin contributes to the water levels of the Caspian. In the past decades heavy rains have greatly enlarged the flow into the Sea. The northern portion is characterized by relatively fresh water; because of evaporation, the southern portion has increased salinity.
These Landsat images show a small portion of the Caspian Sea shoreline, in 1985 and again in 2011. Coastal settlements have been flooded, displacing inhabitants and closing industrial facilities. The level of groundwater also is rising, which leads to swamping and salinity of lowland territories. Tyuleniy Island (the prominent island) has visibly lost land mass, and the rising water contributes to the decline of the habitat of the island and the marshes around it that support fowl and other animals.
Landsat imagery are being used by regional and international organizations to monitor changes in the shorelines as they determine the best method to reclaim and preserve biological diversity, and restore environmental and economic balance.
Arcadia Lake is a reservoir located just east of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, Oklahoma.
The lake was constructed in the 1980s as part of the National Flood Control Act of 1970 and as a cooperative effort between the city of Edmond and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Arcadia Lake was created to control floods in the Deep Fork River Basin, supply water to the city of Edmond, and provide recreational resources to the surrounding communities.
The lake continues to be a major recreation site for the Oklahoma City region and is a major water source for Edmond and for other Oklahoma City suburbs. There is a current lawsuit between Edmond and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over water allocation and costs for maintaining the reservoir.
Landsat images show the area in 1986, before the earthen dam blocked the Deep Fork River, and in 2011, with the reservoir near capacity.
Landsat imagery are useful for determining how changes to the river basin affect land use in the region and are used to monitor the general water levels in the reservoir.
The Dead Sea is located in the Jordan Rift Valley and borders Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank. It is one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, which makes a harsh environment where animals cannot flourish. Minerals from the sea; however, are being extracted and touted as health benefit products.
These Landsat images show the change in the Dead Sea from 1984 to 2011. In recent decades, the sea has been shrinking due to diversion of water from the Jordan River, the sea.s main tributary. Mineral evaporation ponds that have replaced open water in the southern part of the sea can be seen in the 2011 image.
Presently, the Jordan National Red Sea Development Project is focused on replenishing water levels of the Dead Sea by moving water along a route from the Red Sea. This will provide fresh water to Jordan, and the brine discharge will replenish the Dead Sea. To help the restoration of the sea, industrial activities may be reduced, and strict environmental measures and conservation efforts will be put into place.
Landsat imagery is useful to continually monitor the water levels and help decision makers determine the best course of action.
Proctor Lake Affected by Texas Drought December 7, 2011
Dry conditions since mid-2010 have caused a large portion of the State of Texas to be in an 'exceptional' state of drought, the worst condition on the Federal government's drought monitor scale. The 12-month period between October 2010 and September 2011 was the driest in Texas since 1895, when the state began keeping rainfall records. Not only have crops and farmland been affected, the levels of many lakes in the state have decreased.
These Landsat images illustrate the area near Proctor Lake in central Texas, southwest of Dallas, in October 2010 and the same month in 2011. The Proctor Lake reservoir was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1963 as a flood control measure and provides drinking water and recreation facilities to neighboring communities.
The recent drought has diminished the size of the lake and has affected regional crops. Green vegetation in 2010 has been replaced by lighter toned barren ground in 2011 in many places. The receding shorelines of the lake illustrate reduced water levels from the two major feeder streams, the Sabana and Leon Rivers.
State officials use the Landsat data to monitor changes in the size of the lake and the effects of the drought on regional crop yields.
More than half of the Nation's electrical power comes from coal burning and a large percentage of the coal comes from West Virginia. 53 of the 55 counties in West Virginia have coal reserves, and underground, surface, and mountain top mining is a major economic factor for the state. Of the nearly 150 million tons of coal extracted each year, an increasing amount (60 million tons in 2009) comes from surface and mountain top production.
1987 and 2011 Landsat satellite images illustrate the expansion of surface mining in west central West Virginia. Local communities and the regional environment are affected by the practice, as streams near the mines can end up containing higher levels of minerals, which can cause decreased biodiversity. Reclamation of the disturbed land is a prime concern; consequently, Landsat data provide useful overviews of locations, sizes, and rates of expansion of the mining operations.
In the past 35 years Lake Basaka, located in the Middle Awash River Basin, Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia, has greatly expanded and the expansion has affected regional land use. While the exact cause of the expansion remains under study, a likely cause is the discharging of irrigation excesses directly into the lake.
The growing lake has caused a rise in the groundwater table and has increased the salinity in water reserves. That salinity has affected regional sugarcane production, a major source of income for the region, and many agricultural fields have been abandoned.
Landsat satellite data, acquired in 1985 and 2011, illustrate the expansion of the lake and the change in regional land cover. The Landsat data are being used by the United Nations and by regional officials to assess the negative effects on crop production and to study the cause of the lake.s expansion.
Aguascalientes, Mexico - Booming Growth November 9, 2011
Landsat images illustrate how urban growth around Aguascalientes, Mexico, has increased over the past 20 years.
Industry has brought significant growth to the city of Aguascalientes, in central Mexico. Noted as one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico, this city is home to many major manufacturers. Over the past 10 years, the urban area of Aguascalientes has surpassed the boundaries into neighborhood municipalities, some of which have been annexed into Aguascalientes as suburbs.
These Landsat images illustrate the area in October 1993 and October 2011.
Landsat imagery is useful for city officials and planners to determine how increasing populations can affect services to support the growing residential areas.
Expanding Oil Production in Mangystau Province, Kazakhstan November 4, 2011
Significant oil and gas deposits in the area just east of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan, explored heavily only since the early 1990s, have allowed for the creation of production facilities that have changed the landscape of the Mangystau Province.
Landsat images show a small area of the Mangystau Province in 1987 and 2011. Many derricks and other production facilities have been constructed in the desert, with settlements being built around them.
Increased fossil fuels production introduces concerns of the quality and availability of fresh water, which is necessary for rural development and public health. With no outlet, the Caspian Sea is the repository of all that is transported and discharged, including pollutants, into its waters by the rivers.
Areas of the world that are rich in resources are confronted with the challenges of managing them. Landsat imagery can be useful in monitoring land change that may affect the human population and regional environments.
Urban Growth in Morocco 1985-2011 October 27, 2011
The Moroccan cities of Agadir, Inezgane, and Tikiouine are situated close to the Atlantic coastline and stretch into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in northwestern Africa. Agadir was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 1960. Reconstruction efforts have focused on tourism, turning this area into a winter destination. The 1985 image shows the area 25 years into the rebuilding of the urban area. As seen in the 2011 image, the growing urban areas reach into the Atlantic coastal desert ecoregion of the Sahara Desert. Growth has been influenced by the expanding fishing industry and modern commercial ports.
Landsat imagery is useful for urban growth planning and infrastructure sustainability for desert areas.
Aquaculture Changes Mexican Shoreline October 20, 2011
These Landsat images show changes to Sonora Mexico.s western coastline, located on the Gulf of California, due to the construction of shrimp farms. Since the early 1990s, shrimp aquaculture has rapidly expanded in the area. While this industry has provided profits and employment, there have also been concerns about how it has changed the ecosystems of the Gulf area. The shrimp industry has also created disputes about property rights to the communal coastal lands, which once were part of a federal maritime zone until reform in 1992.
Landsat data are useful to help decision makers and scientists determine any potential impacts of constructing aqua-farms along the coastlines. 1993 imagery can be compared to 2011 imagery to show the changes along the coastal area, and the comparison can be used to monitor conditions and anticipate future alteration.
The Samuel Dam is located along the Jamari River in Rondônia, Brazil.
These Landsat images show the area in 1984, shortly after construction of the hydroelectric dam began, and in 2011. The reservoir flooded the upstream forest and displaced many people. Also evident in the images is the deforestation that has affected much of the region.
The nearly 40 years of Landsat images allow for documentation of many broad-scale changes on Earth, and increasingly enable the forecasting of change into the future.
Extreme dry conditions have led to major fires in north central Australia the past year. In February, fires along the coast caused extensive damage and loss of life.
More recently, dry conditions sparked many fires in the Tanami Desert region further inland. The Tanami Desert region is the least populated region of Australia and covers an area approximately the size of Texas and Iowa combined. The desert sand ridges and sand plains have limited vegetation, largely short grasses and shrubs.
Landsat satellite imagery shows a small area of the north central desert on September 7, 2011, and again on September 23, 2011. Grass fires moved quickly through the region and destroyed much of the surface vegetation. The dark areas shown on both images are fire scars (in the September 7 image the fires scars are from previous burns), and in the September 23 image, the scar from an active fire can be seen. On the northern and eastern edges of the scar, fires continue to burn.
Prolonged drought in the southwestern United States has affected many water bodies, such as Elephant Butte Reservoir along the Rio Grande River, north of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The hydroelectric reservoir has had declining water levels over the past 20 years, as indicated in these Landsat images.
In 2009, the Bureau of Reclamation established a plan to implement conservation measures to restore water levels in the reservoir.
Landsat images are useful in monitoring water bodies for change over time and provide decision makers a visual effect of the declining water levels.
Missouri River flooding near Hamburg, Iowa September 19, 2011
In spring of 2011, the communities along the Missouri River were threatened by high flows and record releases from dams in Montana and the Dakotas. Heavy rains and snowpack resulted in near-record flooding along parts of the Missouri. One community especially hard hit was Hamburg, Iowa (pop. 1,300).
Levees had protected Hamburg in the past; however, the unusual flow in 2011 put levees to the test along much of the 1,700 miles of the Missouri, and in early June levees near Hamburg failed, causing extensive flooding and evacuation of many homes.
By late June the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had rebuilt levees and Hamburg was protected from additional flooding.
Landsat imagery acquired before, during, and after the extensive river flows illustrate the impact of the levee failures and the later results of a combination of reconstructed levees and diminishing river levels.
Two fires started near Bastrop State Park in south central Texas in early September 2011, near Bastrop, Texas (pop. 8,000). Bastrop is 30 miles southeast of Austin, Texas, and the fires extend into the eastern edge of the community. The Union Chapel and Bastrop fires together are known as the Bastrop County Complex Fire. The Landsat images acquired on August 26 before the fires began, and again on September 11, show how the fire has scorched thousands of acres.
Severe drought conditions throughout much of the summer of 2011 have sparked many wildfires throughout Texas. 2011 has been reported to be the most severe single-year drought since the 1950s and received the lowest single-year rainfall since the late 1800s.
To date, more than 1,600 homes have been destroyed, making this wildfire the single most destructive in Texas history.
Landsat imagery is useful for monitoring the extent of the fires, as well as destroyed vegetation and subsequent effects to the human population. Future Landsat acquisitions will be used to monitor the recovery of the area.
Tropical Depression Lee formed in late August 2011 and made landfall in the Gulf Coast area during Labor Day weekend. The center of the storm stretched across the central Gulf Coast, dumping torrential rains in the low lying bayou communities of Louisiana. Up to 10 inches of rain fell, prompting warnings of extensive and flash floods throughout the area.
The Landsat 5 scene acquired on September 6, 2011, shows the low lying areas filled with water (shown in blue). The August 29 image shows the area before the storm came to land. Landsat satellite data are routinely used by managers and disaster responders to evaluate the extent of natural and man-made events. A comparison of the two Landsat scenes illustrates the areas most affected by the tropical storm, and subsequent imagery will be used to monitor the recovery of the region.
Rural New York Flooding from Hurricane Irene September 1, 2011
This image (left) taken on July 30, 2011 with the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) shows the New York farming area called the Black Dirt region. This area used to be the bottom of a shallow lake, which resulted in very rich organic soils, shown here in deep browns and reds. Located an hour's drive from New York City, this area has been the source for a variety of onions and other vegetables for over a century.
The flooding from Hurricane Irene, shown here in a Landsat 5 TM image from August 31, 2011 (right), may bring an early end this year for much of the vegetable harvest in this region. Consequences will be felt in the regional farmer's markets, where locally grown vegetables have become a staple.
Landsat is a key tool for agricultural analysis around the world, helping to determine crop yields, track pests, and monitor drought conditions.
Landsat data are collected over much of the land mass of the planet. That global coverage allows scientists, educators, and resource managers to observe and study areas normally out of range of traditional cameras.
A good example is the Solovetsky Island chain.
The six islands of the Solovetsky Islands archipelago are located in the western part of the White Sea in northwestern Russia, less than 100 miles from the Arctic Circle. The largest is Greater Solovetsky Island, on which a famous medieval monastery stands. The seascape's beauty and the islands' remote location appealed to two Russian Orthodox monks who founded a monastery there in the 15th century. The sea is frozen most of the year, limiting the navigation season to three months over the summer.
Lightning sparked a fire on June 19, 2011, within the Holly Shelter Game Land in North Carolina. Hot, dry conditions fueled the fast ignition of over 30,000 acres of thick evergreen shrubs and deep highly flammable coal-like soil. Lingering drought in the area has hampered efforts to extinguish the fire, which is currently 90 percent contained. However, some of the fire area involves peat bogs, and fires in those units are very difficult to end and may burn for a very long time.
While the fires cause immediate devastation to wildlife and plant populations, the fire will also provide a long-term revival of natural habitats for plants and wildlife.
The June 19, 2011, image was acquired earlier in the day that the fire started. The image acquired on July 21 shows the fire scars (brown), active fires (red), and smoke (light blue).
Landsat imagery are used by fire control and state officials to monitor the extent and rate of the fires and the general vegetation species destroyed. Future Landsat acquisitions will be used to track the recovery of the area.
In 1990 a series of seven dams was started in the Goksu River basin in southeastern Turkey. The goal of the dams was to provide long-term hydroelectric power to the region. Landsat satellite data have been used by government officials and by others to study the growth and impact of the dams as the Goksu River is one of the few remaining free flowing rivers in Turkey and the presence of the dams has impacted the aquatic species and wildlife in the area.
The Gezende dam was completed in the early 1990's. The diminished downstream flow of the river significantly affected aquatic species.
The construction, in the early 2000's of the Ermenek dam project created a large reservoir that inundated previous fragile wildlife habitat.
In February, 1991, hundreds of oil wells in Kuwait were set ablaze during the early stages of the Desert Storm conflict. The fires burned out of control and caused widespread pollution to the air and surrounding soils. Approximately six million barrels of oil were lost each day. The last fire was extinguished in November of that year.
Landsat satellite images from the Sabriyah Oil field in February and December of 1991 show the effects of the fires. Surrounding soils are normally light toned, but residue from the fires darkened the soils.
Twenty years later the environment has largely recovered, and the dark stains from 1991 have mainly disappeared. The smoke plumes that remain represent fires normally set to burn off gases from the wells.
Lake Oroumeih (also spelled as Lake Urmia) is a major water body in northwest Iran. At the present time it is the largest lake in the Middle East and the third largest salt water lake on the planet. It is 140 km long, 55 km wide, and as deep as 16 m. However, dams on feeder streams, expanded use of ground water in the region, and a decades long major drought have caused the lake to diminish. The result is a major change in the region's ecosystem and a significant change in the area's economy.
The increased salinity of the remaining water has led to an absence of fish and has destroyed habitat for migratory waterfowl. Traditional tourism and recreation no longer are factors for the small communities near the lake.
Landsat satellite data, acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the gradual change. Three Landsat scenes were used to cover the lake in each of the scenes. In 1985 the dark tone represents the lake when it was at near full capacity. The green tones represent vegetation (agricultural crops and forests). In the 2010 image mosaic, light blue tones represent shallow water and salt deposits along the lake edges. The expanded green tones indicate increased use of ground water and river diversion for irrigation.
United Nations environmental studies indicate the lake is now 60% of the size it was in the 1980s and, at the current rate, will be completely dry by the end of 2013.
On April 30, 2011, lightning caused wildfires near the Okefenokee National Wildlife refuge in the Honey Prairie region of Georgia. Dry conditions in the region helped fuel the fires, and by July 7 over 290,000 acres have burned. Continued lightning strikes have started additional fires, though Forest Service personnel have been successful in containing many of them. The largest fire unit is burning 1,000 acres a day and is approximately 70% contained.
Landsat satellite data illustrate the area of the fires and the rate at which the fires are growing and the recovery of grasslands after the fires. The April 30 image shows the area just before lightning caused the first fire. The June 1 image shows the major burn, with the dark tone of a fire scar from a now ended fire. The red tones of the June 1 and July 3 image represent recovering vegetation in previously burned areas. Active fire, shown by the light tones of smoke, can be seen in the July 3 image.
Landsat satellite imagery illustrate the extensive damage caused by the Las Conchas fires in New Mexico. The major fire started on June 26, probably caused by a downed power line, and has burned over 125,000 acres, destroying sites sacred to American Indian tribes and threatening the Los Alamos National Nuclear Laboratory.
The June 24 image shows the area before the fires. The dark green represents the tree stands in the Santa Fe National Forest. Nearby are the Bandelier National Monument and the ancestral home of pueblo communities and historic sites.
The July 2 image shows the effects of the fires. The brown tones represent areas burned; the bright tones on the edge of the forest illustrate active fires, which, on July 7, are 30% contained.
The Landsat imagery are being used by fire crews to mark the extent of the fires and the areas of active burns. Additionally, the satellite data will be used with elevation data to monitor the vegetation damage on steep sloped regions as forecasts are calling for seasonal monsoon scale rains which will significantly affect erosion on the now exposed soils.
The Puyehue volcano in Chile erupted on June 4, 2011, after being dormant for over 50 years. Thousands of residents were evacuated and airlines in Chile, Argentina and New Zealand cancelled flights after the ash plume rose over 10 km and drifted across the western southern hemisphere.
Landsat 5 collected data on two occasions on June 26, 2011. At 3:19 GMT a night image was collected, as illustrated by a black & white thermal band image. The lava flow shows as a bright spot on the volcano. The ash plume and the surrounding lakes are differentiated from surrounding clouds and land cover.
At 14:24 GMT another scene was collected, as shown in the color image of the visible, near-infrared and short wave infrared bands of the same area. Clouds, snow caps, lakes and vegetation differences are more clearly identified.
While the residents have, in the past few days, been allowed to return scientists are monitoring the site and are concerned there may be another eruption in the near future.
Landsat satellite data, provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, have proven useful for studying the effects of natural and anthropogenic change to the land surface of the planet.
Nevertheless, individual Landsat images are also useful for studying and measuring land units in areas removed from easy access. A good example of the value of Landsat for observing such areas is the Selenge River delta near the border between Russia and Mongolia. The Selenge River bisects northern Mongolia and provides water for the Mongolian .breadbasket,. a region of gently rolling hills and the source of wheat crops for the region. Adjacent to the delta, as the river feeds Lake Baikal, are recently cultivated agricultural fields (noted by the geometric patterns) and lowland shrubs and grasslands. The maze of blue tones identifies the channels as the river covers low lands and swamps.
The Landsat data are used by regional planners to study the spread of the delta, the effects of river drying on adjacent crop lands, and the river flow into the lake.
Lake Meredith is an artificial reservoir formed by the Sanford Dam on the Canadian River in the panhandle of Texas. The lake was originally created as a major source of water for area communities and for developing recreational opportunities. Due to continuous drought, water levels have declined significantly in the past few years, leading to the record low in 2011.
These Landsat 5 satellite images, acquired in 1990 and 2011, clearly illustrate the declining water levels. The lake is represented by the black feature near the center of the image. The light tones at the lower end of the lake indicate dry lands and former shores. The bright green indicates healthy vegetation along the river beds. The nearby industrial area (a petroleum plant and a carbon processing plant) shows as a dark tone in the image, and the community of Borger, Texas, can be seen in the right central portion of the image as a light blue tone. Irrigated fields show in the upper center of the image.
Landsat satellite images are useful in monitoring change on the Earth's surface. These images provide Texas officials with data to monitor the size of the lake over an extended period of time. Those data are useful for studying the effects of the drying and are helpful for planning future water usage.
Landsat satellite data are being used to monitor a series of large fires in northeastern Alberta, Canada.
The Richardson backcounty fires started in mid-May, 2011. Within days they combined to create the largest wildfire in Alberta since 1919, a fire still not under control. Over 700 fire fighters are working to control the fire, which have burned over 1,400,000 acres. Fire fighters are currently focusing on the southern fire areas near Fort McMurray and the oilsands mines (the mines show in light tones in the lower central portion of the imagery.)
The fires represent the effects of significantly dry weather in 2011. On average, Alberta has 700 wildfires per year; this year, 565 fires have already destroyed 2,000,000 acres of brush land and forest.
Located on the northern coast of the Gulf of Kutch on the west coast of India, Mundra Port is India's largest private port. Its location provides a convenient international trade gateway to Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East.
Since operations began in 1999, the Port has developed into a major economic and transportation center for the region and for India. The port hosts extensive docks and warehouses and boasts significant modern technologies for inventory and navigation requirements.
Over 60,000 workers maintain the various facilities. Coal handling (the world's largest facility), crude oil transfers, and grain crops are routinely routed through the large systems.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the changes to the port facilities and to the region. A large road network connects the port to area communities, which have grown in recent decades as the port has developed.
These Landsat images show the changes in the area from 1999 when the project was begun to 2011.
The Portage Diversion system (also known as the Assiniboine River Floodway) was constructed in 1970 to divert the flow of water in the Assiniboine River to an 18-mile diversion channel that empties into Lake Manitoba.
In mid-May of 2011, the diversion channel was opened to help prevent flooding in the Winnipeg urban area. That action eased pressure on downstream dikes. The channel was closed in late May.
Lake Manitoba levels have risen, however, due to the increased flow into the lake, and careful monitoring of water levels and the extent of water spreading downstream, using Landsat satellite data and field measurements, gives response agencies useful information for decision making on controlling stream levels.
Regrowth in Australia after Massive Bushfires May 25, 2011
A series of bushfires ignited in the Australian state of Victoria in early February 2009. The fires occurred during a record-breaking heat wave and extremely dry conditions and resulted in Australia.s highest loss of life from bushfires ever recorded. Many injuries were also reported. As many as 400 individual fires were recorded on February 7, 2009, alone. Since the fires, that day has widely been referred to as Black Saturday.
Landsat 5 images acquired during the fires in 2009, and again in 2011, show the drastic burn scars and re-growth of the areas. The city of Melbourne can be seen in the lower left portion of each image.
These Landsat satellite data clearly illustrate the fire scars and smoke from burning fires in the 2009 image, along with the area.s re-growth by December 2009, and more re-growth by January 2011.
Landsat satellite data are used by regional agencies for monitoring the land cover conditions before, during, and after fires. The effects of the bared land on potential erosion and rate of re-growth are topics of special interest to responsible agencies.
Flood Diversion Measures Along the Lower Mississippi River May 19, 2011
The lower Mississippi River is rising to nearly the record height of 1927. To relieve pressure on downstream levees protecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans, gates at the Morganza Spillway were opened. The water released is inundating the Atchafalaya River Basin, displacing more than 25,000 residents, and flood levels are expected to continue rising through late May.
Portions of the Landsat satellite images acquired on April 16 (before) and May 18, 2011 (after) illustrate the effects of the open spillway. USGS Landsat images will be used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and regional officials to illustrate the extent of diverted water and monitor the long-term recovery of the area.
Landsat satellite data recorded major flooding in the Memphis, Tennessee, area on May 10, 2011. The Mississippi River crested at 47.87 feet on May 10. That crest represents the second highest rise in recent history; the highest recorded was 48.7 feet in 1937.
The Landsat data are being used to monitor the flood rate and the effects of the flooding in the region. Five surrounding counties have been declared disaster areas and the costs of the flooding will approach $1 billion.
In the image, dark blue tones are water, light green areas are cleared fields, and the light tones are clouds.
Tornadoes Devastate the Southeastern United States May 10, 2011
Landsat satellite data illustrate the tremendous damage done by recent tornadoes which touched the ground in the southeastern United States recently.
In a Landsat image acquired on May 4, 2011, at least five tornado tracks can be seen from the late April storm. The large track through the middle of the scene is the result of a severe tornado that stayed on the ground longer than any other tornado in this outbreak.Referred to as the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham, Alabama tornado, it stayed on the ground for over 80 miles, was over 1.5 miles wide in some places, and was responsible for at least 65 fatalities.
The Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale is used to determine tornado severity. The large tornado track was caused by an EF-5 tornado, indicating that winds were at least 200 mph, which is capable of totally destroying buildings. Smaller tracks in the southwest portion of the image were caused by EF-3s (winds up to 165 mph and causing severe damage), and the tornado tracks on the east of the image were caused by EF-4s (winds up to 200 mph and causing extreme damage).
A severe drought that affected Texas in 2011 also produced wildfires south of the border in Mexico. On March 16, 2011, lightning started two large fires in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. These fires were so close to Texas that the United States provided assistance in suppressing them. The northwestern portion of the scene is in Texas, and the rest is Coahuila.
This striking landscape is largely rangeland and open scrubland. To the spacecraft, the burned vegetation takes on a reddish color, as seen in the April 25, 2011, image. The more rugged eastern portion of the image is the northern portion of the Sierra Madre Oriental.
Landsat data are often used to determine the extent and severity of widespread fires, saving response teams many hours of on-the-ground surveys and estimates from the air.
In April 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant experienced a major problem. The reactors had partial meltdowns and protective casings were destroyed. As a precaution, the nearby city (population 50,000) of Pripyat was abandoned and another 180,000 residents in the region were relocated.
Landsat satellite data acquired during the accident were used to illustrate conditions at the plant. The value of Landsat data acquisitions was thus proven and became a major boost to the importance of global Landsat coverage.
Continued coverage of the region enforces the importance of Landsat data continuity. In the 1986 scene the region is largely marked by extensive road networks, cultivated fields prepared for planting (bright, light tones), dense forest cover (dark green), and small communities (blue, purple).
In the 2011 image limited resettlement has begun. Some of the cultivated fields are being replanted, though most of the fields are now grasslands (light green). The dense forests were destroyed and replanted (lighter, more uniform green) and the communities abandoned.
The power plant has been closed and final containers covering the reactors will be in place by 2014 as the region recovers from the disaster.
Beetle Infestation in Rocky Mountain National Park
Tree mortality, caused by the mountain pine beetle, is responsible for almost all the change in conifer tree health status represented in 2003 and 2010 Landsat satellite imagery over the western slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Between those two dates, beetles killed a majority of the medium to large lodgepole pines in the forests in the region. Surveys of trees in field plots in that area in 2008.2010 found that an average of around 60% of the lodgepole pines were dead in each plot. There are other conifer species present that were not affected by mountain pine beetle (e.g. fir and spruce) though beetle infestation was the primary factor in tree damage.
In the 2003 image dense vegetation (dark green) can be seen near the center of the image. In the 2010 image the dark green is replaced by shades of brown over large areas. The brown is indicative of loss of trees due to the mountain pine beetle infestation. USGS staff, working with the Forest Service and the National Park Service personnel, are using the data to monitor the changes and the planning necessary for rehabilitation of the forests.
Extreme drought and high winds have fueled many wildfires in west Texas recently. More than a dozen fires have scorched at least 400 sq miles of land since April 14, 2011.
As seen by the large, dark tone in the April 16, 2011 image above, the Rock House fire has scorched more than 120,000 acres and ravaged dozens of structures in and around Fort Davis. Scars from other fires can also be seen in the image.
Landsat imagery illustrates the fire scars and smoke from burning fires. Smoke from an active fire can be seen in the northern portion of the largest scar. In the center of the large fire scar is the town of Fort Davis, one of many small towns that lost many homes and businesses because of the fire.
Seasonal flooding in the lower Mississippi River Basin
Seasonal flooding is fairly common in the lower Mississippi River Basin in south central United States. Landsat satellite data are used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state officials to monitor the extent and the timing of periodic flooding.
In the March 2010 image rivers in the Basin (including portions of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) are at normal levels. The green tones along river lowlands mark marshy, grassy vegetation and water saturated soils.
In the 2011 image conditions have dramatically altered. The dark tones in the river regions represent expanded water bodies; the rivers have overflown their beds. In particular, the Mississippi River has swamped lowlands.
Landsat satellite imagery shows the dramatic changes in the area of the Great Salt Lake over the last 25 years. Mosaics of four satellite images were used to illustrate the changes over the full lake area. The 1985 image shows that upstream feeder streams, charged by snow melt and heavy rainfall, have filled the lake to near capacity. In the 2010 mosaic, drought conditions upstream have impacted the lake region. The Promontory Peninsula, which in 1985 had high water on three sides, is now connected to land on its eastern side. Similarly, Antelope Island is connected to marshy units near Salt Lake City.
The water levels of the Great Salt Lake change from year to year and even within single years, based on precipitation from rivers flowing into it. During below-average years, water levels drop and salinity rises. This causes the shoreline to recede and the wetlands to dry up. When precipitation is high, lake levels rise and salinity drops. The shoreline expands and wetlands get covered by salt water. This is harmful to sensitive plants and destroys wildlife habitats. Regional resource management officials used the Landsat satellite data to monitor, on a regular basis, the conditions and variable changes in the lake region.
Landsat satellite data have proven useful for monitoring the development of sediment-established land in the Wax Lake Delta region in Louisiana. The delta, which marks where the Atchafalaya River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, was formed by deposition of sediment following the construction of a canal through Wax Lake in 1941.
Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it has also served as a model for delta re-growth in the Mississippi River delta region for restoring wildlife habitat and protection against storm surge.
These Landsat images, acquired and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, show the increase in cropland areas north of the Borohoro Mountains/ Tian Shan Range in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Northwest China from 1989 to 2010.
This area of Xinjiang has fertile cropland with a low population density, few industrial and mining enterprises within irrigated areas, and comparatively little pollution, which provides the opportunities to create natural (green tones in the images) foods, protecting the environment. Many crops can avoid damage by plant disease and insects, thanks to the comparatively closed geographical position, so the dosage of farm chemicals can be reduced to a minimum. White cotton, tomatoes, and sugar are a few of the primary crops of the area. Irrigation and water diversion have allowed cropland areas to expand over the years.
The city of Ürümqi is shown in the lower right portion of the images. The largest city in China's western interior is now home to 2.5 million residents, even if it is the most remote major city from any sea in the world.
Landsat data are used by decision makers worldwide for future planning and land change analysis.
Landsat satellite data show a remarkable series of changes to Bahrain Island in the Arabian Gulf region.
In the 2000 image irrigated fields and urban development cover the northern portion of the island. The central and southern areas are largely desert regions. By 2010 the development and irrigation had expanded significantly. Road networks and an additional airport (noted by the straight line of the runway) have been added.
Additionally, off the southeastern coast a series of artificial islands have been constructed in the past decade. Durrat Al Bahrain boasts luxury hotels, shopping malls, and residential communities. Golf courses have been developed to appeal to tourists and a growing population. A series of marinas also attract recreational sailing.
The Landsat data are used to monitor growth in the region and to evaluate the effects of the added islands to established shoreline and current flow.
These Landsat images, acquired and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, show the changes to the jarrah (Eucalyptus) vegetation in the Muja State Forest around the small mining town of Collie in Western Australia. Expanding coal mines, power stations, and an alumina mine surround the urban area, and changes to the land can be seen when comparing these images acquired in 1990 and 2011.
Northwest of the urban area, an alumina refinery, constructed in the early 1980s, produces over 3 million tons of alumina each year. The water body south of the alumina refinery is the location of the Wellington Dam, which pushed the Harris River back to fill Lake Ballingall (top-central part of the image). South and east of the town, numerous coal mines provide fuel for a number of power stations in the area.
Landsat imagery is used by decision makers worldwide for future planning and land change analysis.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, are being used to monitor the flooding in Australia.
The Great Artesian Basin in Central Queensland has been subjected to the worst flooding in modern history. By late January, 35 people died as a result of the flooding and over $5 billion in damage was recorded. The region, considered the beef "capital" of Australia as well as a major coal production area, has been paralyzed by closed roads and inundated fields.
Landsat 5 coverage illustrates the widespread flooding. The September 28, 2010, image shows the region with "normal" water levels. The dark tones on the left represent lowlands along the Thompson River and Cooper Creek. The green shades represent vegetation growth, grasses along the lowlands, grain crops in the central portion, and Carnarvon National Park in the upper right. The December 1, 2010, image shows the expansion of river and creek systems (water bodies shown in blue.) The January 18, 2011, image shows the greatly expanded water systems. The Thompson River and Cooper Creek have saturated the lowlands, and the Wilson River, to the right of the image, has done major damage to crop lands and communities.
The Landsat data are being used by national and international organizations to measure the extent of the flood damage and to plan rehabilitation programs.
Flooding along the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, Australia February 3, 2011
Landsat 5 data, acquired over the Gulf of Carpentaria, illustrate the dramatic effects of flooding in this northern region of Australia.
The coastal area of the Gulf is a major resort area, as well as a source for extensive bauxite and manganese excavation. The (left to right) Nicholson, Leichhart, Flinders, and Carron Rivers drain from the central lowlands of Queensland into the Gulf, eventually flowing into the Arafura Sea. The light tone along the sea coast shows the rare example of an epicontinental sea, a shallow sea on top of the continent extension.
The October 3, 2010, image shows the drainage from the rivers (in shades of blue) into the beach and salt flats along the coast. The January 23, 2011, image shows the effects of historic rainfall upstream. Blue tones show the inundation of coastal lands and turbidity masking the subsurface continental shelf.
The Landsat data provide a permanent record of land surface change, which shows the rising and eventual falling of river levels and the effects of flooding on mining and recreational development.
The Paraguay-Parana River system is the second largest river system in South America — second only to the Amazon. More than 100 million people and some of the rarest species on Earth depend on healthy waters of the Paraguay-Parana River system for survival.
The middle Parana River forms the country boundaries of Paraguay and Argentina in South America. A joint project between the countries began in December of 1983 with construction of the Yacyreta Dam. Also named Hydroelectric Power Station Jasyreta-Apipe, the power plant began operating in 1994.
The May 1985 Landsat image shows the area shortly after dam construction began, while the river was close to its traditional boundaries. The resulting lake formed by the project, as seen in the December 1999 and June 2010 images, has been the source of many problems for people living along the river. River levels rose dramatically upon completion of the dam, initially displacing 15,000 residents and endangering the homes of 800,000 more. Additionally, the source of the Parana River - the Atlantic Forest - harbors a range of biodiversity comparable to that found in the Amazon, including 1,000 species of birds and species such as the brown howler monkey that are found nowhere else on Earth.
The Paraguay River floods the spectacular Pantanal - the world's largest freshwater wetland - a habitat for jaguars, giant river otters, and 650 species of birds like cormorants, herons, and jabiru storks.
The Paraguay River cuts through the Brazilian Cerrado, a grassland home to more than 10,000 species of plants as well as maned wolves and giant anteaters.
Landsat satellite data are being used for monitoring the effects of the dam construction upstream and are being used by national and international governing bodies and conservation groups in attempts to minimize the damage done by altering the stream flow.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the changes in land surface conditions in southern Mauritania. For decades a major drought impacted the vegetation growth in the region. Light tones in the 1992 image represent limited vegetation and significant areas of bare soil. The darker green tones in the northern portion of the scene and along the river basins represent more vigorous growth of grasses and relatively small trees.
Rains in the late 1990's through the later decades have renewed some of the grass growth as shown by the stronger green tones. Additionally, farmers in the area burn off some of the grasses to make way for sustainable crops. The dark tones which dominate the 2001 image represent fire scars from the burns. The 2010 image shows stronger green tones, due to seasonal rains and vegetation growing over the previous fire scars.
Major flooding in southern Australia has caused a catastrophic situation for residents, industry, farming, and wildlife in the region. The worst flooding in decades has affected an area the size of Germany and France combined, cut off 22 towns, impacted over 200,000 people, closed 75% of the coal mines in the area, and devastated the country's wheat crop. Ten people have died, an estimated $1 billion has been lost in coal production, and the wheat crop, which represents up to half of the national crop, may be degraded, at best, to animal feed. Housing and transportation networks have also been severely damaged.
Landsat satellite data record the expansion of inundated land. The October 9, 2010, image shows conditions before the flooding. Green tones represent vegetation, much of it wheat crops. Blue and black tones represent water bodies, either lakes or the track of meandering rivers.
In the December 12 image, the lakes have expanded, the rivers are significantly larger, and, noted by the darker tones, low lands and agricultural fields are saturated.
Owens Lake is a significant inland water body approximately 130 miles north of Los Angeles, California. Situated in the Owens Valley between the Sierra Nevada and Inyo Mountains, the lake has, historically, been fed by the Owens River. The lake was one of the most important stopover sites for migrating waterfowl and shore birds in the western United States for thousands of years. However, in the early 20th century the lower Owens River was largely diverted to the Los Angeles aqueduct. Water from springs and artesian wells kept some of the lake alive; however, toxic chemicals and dust significantly affected the regional environment and disturbed the important bird habitat.
Beginning in 1999, a plan was put in place to restore the lake region and to alleviate the dust build up. A series of ponds, expansion of native grasses, distribution of gravel deposits, and limited shallow flooding helped re-establish the migratory stopover habitat and to limit dust problems.
Landsat satellite data acquired in 1985 and 2010 are used to monitor the restoration efforts and to record areas where surface water covers the recently dried lake bed.
Growth in the San Antonio, Texas Region December 14, 2010
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the rapid growth in the San Antonio, Texas region. San Antonio has grown to be the 7th largest city in the nation, with a current population of approximately 1.4 million. In 1991 when the June 16 image was acquired, the population was approximately 790,000. In the past 20 years it has been the 4th fastest growing city in the United States.
Unlike most large cities in the United States, San Antonio is not completely surrounded by independent suburban cities, and under Texas law it exercises extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) over much of the surrounding unincorporated land, including directing growth and zoning. It pursues an aggressive annexation policy and opposes the creation of other municipalities within its ETJ. The restrictions on development by independent communities have allowed the city to control growth direction and have preserved useful agricultural production areas. Another factor in the growth formula has been the series of military bases and military airfields which ring the larger community.
Monitoring Change in the Caspian Sea November 16, 2010
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey and drawn from the 38+ year archive, are being used to monitor changes to a major Caspian Sea bay. The Kara-Bogaz-Gol basin on the eastern edge of the sea undergoes periodic, dramatic change in the water level. Because the basin is significantly more shallow than other near shoreline areas, the changes are more visible and affecting.
Human intervention by damming the feeder inlets has, in recent times, increased the magnitudes of change and impacted the salinity and water chemistry. In March 1980, the barrier to the Caspian was blocked. Accelerated evaporation caused a fall in the Caspian Sea water level, and the resulting "salt bowl" caused widespread problems of blowing salt, reportedly poisoning the soil and causing health problems for people hundreds of kilometers downwind to the east. In 1984 the Kara-Bogaz-Gol basin was completely dry.
In 1992, the Caspian Sea levels were rising again after the barrier was breached, and Kara-Bogaz-Gol Bay filled up again. Levels have been fairly stable the past decade
Seasonal changes in the Senegal River Delta are illustrated by Landsat images acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The region has been suffering from an extended drought. The July 2010 image shows the region during a dry period. The September image shows major inundation of the delta after significant late summer rains upstream.
Regional governments have taken broad measures to regulate the river flow. Upstream dams have lessened the impact of the rainy season on delta flooding. The dams have also provided hydroelectric power to the area.
On the other hand, the control of stream flow has led to a significant change in water quality and the environment. Water from the Atlantic Ocean, previously pushed by the significant river flow, now backs up and has created increased salinity and brackishness. Populations have seen an increase in water borne diseases as pools of water are less susceptible to recharge. Also, a vital route for upstream navigation for carrying goods to the ocean has been affected.
Regional governments and the United Nations use the Landsat images to monitor water coverage and the balance of repercussions of changes to the historic nature of seasonal river flows.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate extreme changes in the Devils Lake, North Dakota, area over the past 20 years. Devils Lake and smaller regional lakes have inundated farm land, roads, and buildings. Devils Lake, alone, has flooded over 150,000 acres.
Devils Lake is a closed basin and has no natural river or stream to carry away excess rain and snow melt. Landsat imagery, acquired in 1991, shows the area before a record period of precipitation. 2010 imagery shows the same area with expanded lake surfaces and wetland units.
While the flooded land has become a favorite fishing and hunting area and is providing the area with economic benefits, there are still concerns about future water movement that threatens area communities and agricultural production. The Landsat data are being used by state and federal agencies to monitor the changes and the effects of flooding on regional land use.
Landsat satellite data, collected and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the retreat of the terminus of Bear Glacier in southern Alaska.
Bear Glacier is one of the larger outlet glaciers flowing from the northeastern part of Harding Icefield toward Resurrection Bay in the Kenai Fjords National Park in the Kenai Mountains. The park is a popular area for camping, hiking, exploring, and photography.
In 1809, Bear Glacier was 26 km long and ended about 300 m from the shore of Resurrection Bay. Since that time, the terminus has gradually melted and calved icebergs, retreating 400 m before 1950 and another 1,500 m between 1950 and the mid-1990s. Substantial retreat has occurred in the last 15 years. By 2000, the terminus of Bear Glacier was actively calving large numbers of icebergs, and the small marginal lake that had developed by 1950 was quite large. By 2004, the glacier had retreated more than 2 km farther, and by 2010, about another kilometer.
Scientists are using the Landsat data, along with other data and field monitoring, to examine conditions in the region as possible indicators of long term regional warming. For more information about the glaciers of Alaska, see U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386-K, Glaciers of Alaska.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the effects of water demands and upstream drought on Lake Mead in Nevada. Lake Mead is the largest water reservoir in the United States and provides water and, through dam turbines, power for Nevada, southern California, and northern Mexico.
Human water consumption needs have grown with the increased population and irrigation development in the region. Additionally, the area has had over a decade of drought conditions. Water supply has been further diminished by the drawing off of water from upstream reservoirs in the upper Colorado River Basin which, historically, has been the source for the Lake Mead Reservoir. Federal and state water managers use the Landsat imagery, combined with water gage measurements and aerial photography, to monitor the levels and conditions of the reservoir.
Landsat satellite imagery, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrates a major change in agricultural practices in the northeastern portion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Increased diversion of water from the Luis L. Leon Reservoir for center pivot irrigation has affected the vegetation patterns in the region and significantly diminished the amount of water reaching the Rio Grande River. The center pivot irrigation systems (marked in the 2010 image by intense red circles) are being used for growing alfalfa and sorghum to supply dairy farms and cattle feedlots. At the same time, diminished flows into the Rio Grande seriously threaten wildlife habitat and natural vegetation.
Major flooding in the Indus River Valley in Pakistan has been described by the United Nations relief teams as "...one of the worst humanitarian disasters in history..." Over 21 million people have been directly affected, 10 million left without shelter, and more than 1,800 killed by flooding caused by historic monsoon rains. The flooding inundated over a million acres.
Cities in the Sindh Province, including Sukkar, Mehar, and Dadu, were largely devastated as the Indus River overflowed its banks before emptying into the Arabian Sea. A 12-scene mosaic of Landsat 5 satellite images acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey in spring and summer 2010 shows the region before flooding. The green tones indicate healthy vegetation, including vital food producing crops in the river basin.
The August 12, 19, and 21, 2010, image mosaic shows the area during major flooding. While much of the river basin remains "green," saturated fields are largely destroyed and the Indus River and feeder streams greatly enlarged.
National and International agencies use individual Landsat scenes, complemented by other information, to study affected areas and to plan relief missions to the most affected areas. The 12-scene mosaics offer broader perspectives on the extent of the flooding.
A series of wildfires, started by lightning strikes the weekend of August 21–22, 2010, has burned over 300,000 acres of sage and grasses in the south-central region of Idaho. On August 23, the fire burned over 200,000 acres in a single day. Smoke from the fires has had a dramatic negative effect on air quality in a number of regional communities.
Landsat satellite imagery, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey and provided to the fire suppressant crews, marks the extent of the fires. The July 24 image shows burn marks from earlier, smaller fires; the August 25 image shows the dark tone of the large fire scar. Fire teams and regional vegetation management parties will use the imagery to track the fire and to plan rehabilitation of the areas affected.
Massive flooding in Pakistan has been triggered by the annual monsoon. Rains fell in the northeast of Pakistan for over a month, and the floodwaters have flowed south through the country along the Indus River floodplain. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, and the floodwaters will take weeks or months to recede.
Landsat 7 data, acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey, show the break of a large ice unit in the Petermann Glacier in northwestern Greenland.
Scientists have been predicting the break for over a year; a June 26 acquisition shows the ice still in one large unit, though field sensors detected large cracks developing. The August 13 image shows the large unit (roughly 40% larger than the area of the District of Columbia) after it has broken away. The unit that broke off is the largest piece to break away in the Arctic ice since 1962. Warmer water temperatures below the floating ice and warmer sea surface temperatures are probable causes for the break.
Landsat data will provide useful information on the development of smaller units in the near future. Most of the break away ice will freeze in place with the coming winter; however, smaller units will be monitored as they drift into shipping lanes.
An extreme drought on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Siberia has led to a series of major fires. Landsat satellite data, collected and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, are being used by regional resource managers and fire fighting officials to monitor the extent of the fires and conditions of affected vegetation.
A Landsat image acquired on September 7, 2009 shows the area before the fires. The dark tone in the lower left is the Penzhinskaya Guba. Rivers flow into it and, eventually, the Sea of Okhotsk. The green tones represent vegetation cover, the light tones, clouds.
A July 16, 2010 image shows a major burn in the low lands. The dark tone is burned area, the light blue, smoke.
The August 1, 2010 image shows the expanded burned areas and additional fires in the lower right portion of the image. By early August an area over 30 miles wide had been burned.
Landsat data are providing useful perspectives for monitoring conditions as Siberian agencies fight the massive burns.
Landsat imagery, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate fires along the Volga River near Nizhniy Novgorod, the third largest city in Russia.
The Landsat 7 image acquired on June 27 shows conditions before the fires. The green tones represent vegetation, the medium colors represent crops, and the darker tones represent marshy land. The Landsat 5 image acquired on July 5 shows the burned areas, and smoke from continuing fires. The burned areas shown in shades of red, cover approximately 3,000 acres.
The Landsat images are being used to monitor the extent and conditions of fires and will be used in planning for recovery of the area after the fires are extinguished.
On June 20, 2010, a forest fire, caused by an improperly extinguished camp fire, started near Flagstaff, Arizona. By June 30, over 15,000 acres of scenic forest land were affected. Over 1,000 residents were evacuated as a precaution; however, no lives were lost nor were any major structures destroyed. 800 firefighters worked to contain the fire and the fire was largely contained by early July. Estimated damage and cost of fighting the fire is $8 million.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U. S. Geological Survey, are used by federal, state, and regional agencies to track the fire and to monitor vegetation re-growth in the coming years.
Landsat imagery can capture changes in lake surface water extents. This sequence of images illustrates changes occurring in the Yukon River Basin in Alaska.
Twelve Mile Lake, located southwest of Fort Yukon in interior Alaska, decreased in surface size more than 60% between 1979 and 2009. Drying has also been noted in other northern latitude water bodies around the globe. Landsat can be used to quantify the magnitude of the phenomena. These hydrologic changes have local and global influences on carbon dioxide, methane, heat, and water fluxes.
Causes of the changes in lake hydrology vary by lake and region and include permafrost degradation or negative water balances due to higher temperatures occurring over a longer growing season.
Scientists will use Landsat image sequences as one of many tools for studying changes in responses to climate variations and, potentially, significant climate change. (Support for this study was provided by the USGS Climate Effects Network and USGS Global Change Research & Development Program.)
Lightning caused a forest fire in early June in the Big Mountain, Alaska, region near the Canadian border. Within days, over 10,800 acres of black spruce trees had been destroyed by the fire.
Alaska and Canadian Forest Service employees routinely use Landsat satellite data, acquired, processed, and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, to identify and monitor forest fires in relatively isolated regions.
Mar Chiquita is the largest of the naturally occurring saline lakes in Argentina. The feeder systems for the lake include the Dulce River from the north, and the Primero/Suquia and Segundo/Xanaes Rivers from the south.
The Dulce River, as the principle feeder, has a heavy saline content, and increased drawing of the river upstream for irrigation has affected the levels of the lake. Additionally, long drought periods have diminished recharge capabilities.
The result is a diminished lake size and increased salinity. Environmental studies are continuing to measure the regional impact of the changes to lake size and quality. Landsat satellite imagery, acquired in 1988 and 2011, are useful for illustrating the changes.
Landsat 7 imagery acquired on November 22, 2009, defines a series of ancient walls developed to capture wild animals. The study sites are in the deserts of modern Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. The low walls, called desert kites, are roughly one meter high and some are as long as 60 kilometers. Constructed to channel herds of animals, the walls led them to what some believe were killing pits. Studies indicate the walls were common 2,300 years ago and later abandoned, replaced by other means of capturing animals.
The walls can be seen in the Landsat sub scene because they contrast with their immediate surroundings. The box and circular shapes suggest man-made features rather than 'natural' formations. Archaeologists studying the features find them consistent with information about the ancient animal traps.
The Aral Sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world, continues to shrink and is now 10% of its original size. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently called the drying up of the Aral Sea one of the planet's most shocking disasters.
Feeder streams to the sea have been diverted by irrigation and by the completion of upstream dam projects. The result has been the ruin of the local fishing and shipping economy, and wind-carried salty sands have created regional health problems.
Landsat satellite imagery acquired May 29, 1973, and October 18, 2009, show the dramatic change in the region.
Landsat Imagery Illustrate the Impact of Retreating Glaciers in the Patagonia Region of Southern Chile February 9, 2010
The 1986 image shows the region prior to a major retreat of the glaciers. The 2002 image shows a retreat of nearly 10 km (5.5 miles) of the glacier on the left of the scene. The smaller glacier on the right has receded over 2 km (1.3 miles.) In front of the smaller glacier two ribbon lakes have formed behind the debris left behind from the glacier's advance. Scientists and Peruvian government managers will use the Landsat imagery to monitor the rate of retreat of the glaciers and the impact on water bodies caused by the changes in size and direction of the glaciers.
The Panama Canal was built in the early 20th century to improve worldwide shipping by shortening the route from the Atlantic to the Pacific by 7,800 miles. This Landsat 5 image, acquired on March 27, 2000 and processed by the U. S. Geological Survey, shows the Panama Canal connecting the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean (to the north) and the Gulf of Panama and the Pacific Ocean (to the south). Gatun Lake is in the center of the Canal. Northern Panama has a moist tropical climate and the vegetation is green all year. In the south, there is a distinct dry season, usually in March. In the southern region permanent pastures and agricultural fields are found (appear brown). This Landsat image is unusual as cloud cover in the region normally makes it difficult to get a clear view of the full canal length. A $25 billion canal expansion project was started in 2007. New locks and a new channel linking the locks, as well as deepening the waterway connecting the Gulf of Panama with the Caribbean Sea are part of the expansion, scheduled for completion in 2014, the centennial of the completion of the original canal.
Landsat satellite data are being used to complement aerial photography and other satellite data, as well as ground measurements to monitor land cover changes in the region and the development of the expansion project.
In August, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Southern U.S. coast and the resulting damage was the costliest storm damage in U.S. history. Portions of Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey illustrate the extent of the flooding in the New Orleans area and the long term impact of the storm. In the September, 2005 image dark tones represent flooded areas of the city. By October, 2005 significant areas are drying; however, the light brown tones represent areas where vegetation (trees, lawns, parks) has been destroyed. By September, 2009 the brown tones are replaced with more green colors, representing new growth of vegetation as neighborhoods rebuild. Federal, state and local officials use the Landsat data to monitor the effects of change and will use the imagery for planning of rehabilitating the region.
Region affected by a major earthquake January 14, 2010
A major earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti on January 12, 2010. Early reports are that there was significant loss of life and major destruction around the capital of Port-au- Prince.
Landsat imagery acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey on November 26, 2009 illustrates the area affected.
Government agencies and relief organizations will use the Landsat data as a tool in understanding the area and identifying population centers. Later acquisitions will be used to study the extent and locations of disaster sites. The data will also be used to study surface features which may indicate structures which caused the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.
On December 13 the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat 7 earth observing satellite imaged a massive iceberg drifting toward Australia. The iceberg, labeled 'B17B' came off the Antarctic ice shelf in 2000 and recently got caught in wind and current patterns that pulled it north. The size of the iceberg (originally 140 X 115 square km), makes this break from the ice shelf a unique event. The iceberg is in the process of breaking up as it drifts north and east into warmer waters. Scientists and navigation experts are tracking the icebergs as they pose risks for shipping in the region.
The Landsat image illustrates the larger iceberg and the smaller units which have broken off. A sensor problem causes the lines in the image along the off center portions. Nevertheless, the data are valuable as they show the size of the iceberg and the smaller units as they 'calve.' Subsequent images will be used to track the direction and size of the units as they continue to drift into shipping lanes.
Lake Chad, located at the borders of Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon was once the 6th largest lake in the world. A major drought in the feeder river systems regions has caused a significant drying of the lake. Landsat satellite imagery show the profound effect of the lack of upstream water sources. Lake Chad is also a fairly shallow lake (generally no more than eight m deep); consequently, more rapid decline in the lake surface is more noticeable.
Historic records indicate the drying of the lake has happened frequently over the centuries. Landsat data provide a permanent record of the changes in the past decades and will provide a useful data base for future studies.
Clear Cutting and Oil Field Development in the Swan Hills, Alberta, Canada Area December 4, 2009
Oil and gas exploration leaves deforestation scars throughout the northern boreal forest region in Alberta, Canada near Swan Hills. This has also provided the development of new pulp mills on major rivers in the area. While there has been regrowth in some areas, the clearing is largely evident in the 2009 image, and gridlines of the third largest oilfield deposit in Canada (estimated to contain four billion barrels of oil) can also be seen in both of these images.
Urban Growth in the Beijing, China region November 24, 2009
Portions of Landsat imagery acquired in 1988 and 2003 illustrate the dramatic growth in the Beijing, China region.
In 1988 the population of Beijing was over 10 million. The area was surrounded by agricultural fields with rice, winter wheat, and vegetables grown to feed the near-by population.
In 2003 the population of the city had grown to over 17 million in Beijing and there was major expansion in surrounding communities. The growing industrialization and commercial development, especially near the newly enlarged International airport, happened at the expense of agricultural production.
Landsat data are being used to illustrate the growth and are used to monitor changes in land use and the impact of the population change on regional forest land, surface water resources, and the expanded road network.
November 9, 2009, marked the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin wall in Germany.
The wall, constructed in 1961, separated the 1.28 million residents of East Berlin from the 1.75 million residents of West Berlin. The wall was later extended to surrounding regions and became a symbol of the “Cold War.”
Landsat imagery illustrates the change in the Berlin region in the last 20 years. In the 1988 image, much of the urban area (shown in dark purple) is within the wall confines (the wall shows up as light colored lines, especially evident in the western half of the 1988 image.) By 2007, the combined population of Berlin was 3.45 million and urban areas expanded into the surrounding region.
Portions of Landsat 7 scenes, acquired on May 31 and September 20, 2009, show the impact of Typhoon Parma on the lowlands in the Yilan City region of Taiwan. In the May 31 image cultivated fields and forested areas are represented by green, urban areas by light tones. In the September 20 image the coastal regions are flooded and the blue tones represent wet and inundated fields. The heavy rains from the typhoon affected the Yilan province and the surrounding townships of Sansing, Wujie, Dongshan, Jhuangwei, Datong, Toucheng, and Luodong, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.
Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is on the east coast of the Saudi Peninsula, against the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The government and private investors have created a series of man-made land areas along the seacoast, units which will hold resorts, permanent housing, office buildings, and harbors. Landsat 7 data show the unique features of the recent development. There are two ‘Palm’ islands Jumeirah, the northern palm, was completed in 2006 and Jebel Ali is still under construction. 'The World', being constructed in the northern portion of the scene, was completed in January, 2008 and consists of between 250-300 small private islands.
Landsat satellite data, acquired during and after the fires in Southern California show the region affected and the size of the major burns.
The Station Fire in southern California affected over 100,000 acres within the Angeles National Forest and threatened over 12,000 homes in the foothill communities of La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Acton, Soledad Canyon, Pasadena and Glendale.
The fire started on Wednesday, August 26. Due to a lack of recent fires and drought conditions in the area there was plenty of fuel to feed the fire and the terrain in most areas is steep and relatively inaccessible, making fighting the fire from the ground difficult. Flames as tall as 80 feet have not been uncommon.
In the image the gray areas are urban/cities and the blue haze is smoke from the fires. The orange colored areas have been burned and the active fires are the brightest spots in the August 30 image.
In the September 23 image, acquired by Landsat 5, the burn scar from the major fire unit shows in red. Concern is rising now that the lack of vegetation in steeply sloped areas will be especially vulnerable to erosion. Recent major rainstorms are already creating problems.
Landsat satellite data are proving important to resource managers monitoring one of the Nation's most fragile ecosystems.
The largest tract of wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains is located in south Florida within the Everglades National Park. From a biological perspective, it is home to some of the most rare and endangered species in the U.S.: the West Indian manatee, the American crocodile, and more than a dozen others. It is one of the most significant corridors and stopovers for migrating species. And it is home to the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere.
The Everglades also plays a crucial role in the lives of Florida's human residents. It provides water supplies vital to millions of domestic users, businesses, and farms. It also helps sustain livelihoods by providing fertile croplands and pastures for livestock grazing, as well as recreational opportunities that draw millions of tourists.
As Florida's human population has grown, the strain on the Everglades has increased. Land has been drained, paved over and plowed under; water supplies have been diverted and polluted. In addition to the direct threats to wildlife posed by these human activities, climate change poses a significant new challenge.
Urban development, increased recreation demands, storms, and hurricanes have all challenged the ecosystem of the Everglades. In 2000 Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project.
The project, the largest restoration project in American history, will include purchasing of land (over 207,000 acres to date,) establishing large-scale aquifer storage systems, and developing treatment marshes and water flow channels.
A critical tool in the project is the access to Landsat data. Landsat data provide a record of conditions at a particular time and, as land conditions change, project leaders will use Landsat data to monitor anthropogenic and natural alterations. Five Landsat scenes for each time period were mosaicked to illustrate the location, conditions, and synoptic perspective of the south Florida and Everglades region. Comparing the 1986/1987 mosaic data and the 2010/2011 data allows the project staff to evaluate the gradual change in the fragile system of the Everglades.