Source: Cody Winchester, ArgusLeader.com [external link]

In a recent Sioux Falls ArgusLeader, reporter Cody Winchester explains Landsat’s role in the new Google Earth Engine.

Excerpted from Winchester’s article:

“Scientists, conservationists and developing countries can use [Landsat] data to track deforestation, urbanization, water use and other environmental trends.

“Over the next two years, Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, will donate 20 million computing hours to developing nations to help monitor deforestation, which the United Nations says accounts for almost 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

“[Dr. Matthew] Hansen and the Mexican forestry commission used 53,000 Landsat images spanning 16 years to create a detailed map of water and forest cover in Mexico. Hansen shipped the algorithms to Google on Thanksgiving weekend.

“It’s only recently that the map project became financially feasible. ‘Two years ago, that would have cost us $32 million,’ Hansen said.

“That’s because USGS used to charge for Landsat data. Since changing this policy in 2008, however, demand for satellite images has increased by a factor of 50, said Dr. Tom Loveland, a research geographer at EROS and co-director of the Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence.

“In 2001, its highest sales year to date, the USGS sold about 20,000 images, Loveland said. In the year after announcing the data would be free, it sent out more than 1 million images.

“‘We came to the realization that the value of data is in the frequency it is used to solve relevant problems,’ Loveland said.”

Further Information:
ArgusLeader article [external link]