September 2016


climate change data as art
Sep 30, 2016Landsat, Art, and a Glacier’s Perspective

Glaciologist and prolific AGU blogger, Mauri Pelto, regularly publishes posts about changing glaciers around the globe on his "From a Glacier's Perspective" blog. In many cases, Landsat data informs his posts.

Spartina grass on Sapelo Island
Aug 15, 2016Landsat Reveals Serious Decline in Georgia Salt Marsh Health

Scientists at the University of Georgia’s Marine Institute at Sapelo Island have found that the amount of vegetation along the Georgia coast has declined significantly in the last 30 years, spurring concerns about the overall health of marshland [...]

trees killed by pine beetles
Jul 19, 2016Landsat—The Watchman that Never Sleeps

In western North America, mountain pine beetles infest and ravage thousands of acres of forest lands. Landsat satellites bear witness to the onslaught in a way that neither humans nor most other satellites can.

Sierra Nevada Snowpack Not Likely To Recover from Drought Until 2019
Jun 21, 2016Sierra Nevada Snowpack Not Likely To Recover from Drought Until 2019

Even with this winter’s strong El Niño, the Sierra Nevada snowpack will likely take until 2019 to return to pre-drought levels, according to new research.

west Antarctica
Jun 1, 2016Antarctic Coastline Images Reveal Four Decades of Ice Loss to Ocean

A study of images along 2000 kilometers of West Antarctica’s coastline has shown the loss of about 1000 square kilometers of ice – an area equivalent to the city of Berlin – over the past 40 years.

Landscape of West Kalimantan, Indonesia by Yayan Indriatmoko , CIFOR
Apr 27, 2016Staying Alert: How a New Landsat-Based Tool Spots Deforestation

Forests are commodities. The biggest driver of deforestation worldwide is the economic value of trees and the land they stand on. With the high demand for agricultural land and wood products, deforestation has become an intractable problem.

Canadian forest changes 1985-2011
Apr 18, 2016Landsat Used to Recreate the History of Canada’s Forests

Canada has recreated the recent history of its forest disturbance and related recovery using Landsat data; a history that would otherwise not be possible to recreate in a manner that is spatially explicit and at a spatial resolution of relevance [...]

forest and fungi
Mar 31, 2016Landsat Uncovers Underground Forest Fungi

A NASA-led team of scientists has developed the first-ever method for detecting the presence of different types of underground forest fungi from space, information that may help researchers predict how climate change will alter forest habitats.

wetlands in winter
Mar 16, 2016New Technique Tracks ‘Heartbeat’ of Hundreds of Wetlands

Across the U.S. and particularly in Washington state, very little is known about the acreage, yearly flooding cycles and even the actual locations of wetlands. Even hazier is what could happen to these vital ecosystems under climate change.

2015 Antarctica velocity map
Dec 18, 2015Measuring Movement at the Bottom of the Earth

Alex Gardner, a Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has used 30 years of Landsat data—some 3 million scenes—to measure the velocity of Antarctica's ice sheet. He spoke with us about the work he is presenting at #AGU15.

Lake Clark
Dec 18, 2015Watching Glacial Sediment Plumes in Alaska’s Lake Clark

Carson Baughman, a geographer at the USGS Alaska Science Center, presented results of his study on seasonal glacial sediment plumes in Alaska's Lake Clark at #AGU15. We talked to Carson about his work.

Antarctic rock outcrop map
Dec 17, 2015Mapping Antarctic Rock Outcrops with Landsat 8

Alex Burton-Johnson, Martin Black, and Peter Fretwell from the British Antarctic Survey have used Landsat 8 data to create a new rock outcrop map for Antarctica, which will become part of the Antarctic Digital Database. The team presented their [...]

Denali, snow
Dec 17, 2015A New Landsat-based Snow Cover Product from USGS

David Selkowitz, a Research Geographer with the USGS Alaska Science Center, and his team have developed a snow cover product, that allows users to look at historical snow cover through time. Selkowitz presented a poster on the Landsat-based data [...]

Coropuna
Dec 15, 2015Survival of a Tropical Glacier

William Kochtitzky, a student from Dickinson College, presented a poster on glacial changes on Peru’s Nevado Coropuna volcano at #AGU15.

U.S. forest
Dec 14, 2015Finding Where U.S. Forests Have Been Undisturbed for a Quarter Century

Chengquan Huang presented a poster explaining where to find U.S. forests that have been undisturbed for last 25 years at #AGU15. His research relied on Landsat to both find these forests and understand forest disturbance trends in the U.S.

a prairie pothole
Dec 14, 2015Climate Change, Conservation, and the Chemical Evolution of Prairie Potholes

Martin Goldhaber gave a talk about how climate change will impact the hydrochemistry of wetlands in an immensely important ecosystem known as the Prairie Pothole Region at #AGU15. Landsat data helped Goldhaber track how the size of the [...]

Panmah and Choktoi glacier movement
Nov 27, 2015Animating the “Karakoram Anomaly” with Landsat

Capitalizing on the long Landsat data record and the human brain’s capacity to recognize movement, Frank Paul from the University of Zurich has created glacier animations that enable viewers to witness the complex flow of glaciers.

an arctic stream
Nov 16, 2015Case Studies in Carbon and Climate

Every part of the mosaic of Earth's surface — ocean and land, Arctic and tropics, forest and grassland — absorbs and releases carbon in a different way. Wild-card events such as massive wildfires and drought complicate the global picture even [...]

forest fall colors
Oct 28, 2015Forest Disturbance History from Landsat Released, 1986-2010

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory DAAC, has just release a Landsat-based forest disturbance history covering the years between 1986 and 2010.

close-up of study area land-terminating glacier
Oct 28, 2015Despite Warming, Landsat Reveals Decadal Slowdowns on Greenland Ice Sheet

Ice sheets are in perpetual motion, making their way downslope like a river. If the amount of snow that an ice sheet accumulates does not keep pace with its loss to the sea, sea level will rise. As temperatures have climbed, positive feedback [...]

Comparison of idle fields from 2011 to 2015
Oct 21, 2015Federal Agencies Release Data Showing California Central Valley Idle Farmland Doubling During Drought

NASA, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the California Department of Water Resources, released data today showing the effect the current drought has had on [...]

ridge-top bristlecone pine forest
Oct 5, 2015A forest by any other name?
Semantics, carbon implications, and solutions


Using the world’s first global, Landsat-based 30-meter resolution map of tree cover, researchers found that ambiguity of the term “forest” has the potential to create 13 percent discrepancies in forest area maps. While ecologists have long [...]

New Global Data Finds Tropical Forests Declining in Overlooked Hotspots
Sep 2, 2015New Global Data Finds Tropical Forests Declining in Overlooked Hotspots

The world lost more than 18 million hectares (45 million acres) of tree cover in 2014, an area twice the size of Portugal, according to new data from the University of Maryland (UMD) and Google released by Global Forest Watch. The data find that [...]

Superglacial lakes in Greenland. Photo credit: Washington University.
Aug 17, 2015Lakes On A Glacier

How deep is that icy blue water on Greenland's ice sheet? Dr. Allen Pope, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, is using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite to find out. In this video, Dr. Pope shares what he sees when he looks at a [...]

Percent loss of Turkey's glaciers
Jul 2, 2015Turkish Glaciers Shrink By Half

Researchers and citizens have known for some time that Turkey’s glaciers are shrinking. Now scientists have calculated the losses and found that more than half of the ice cover in this mountainous country has vanished since the 1970s.

calved icebergs from Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier
Jun 1, 2015Ebb & Flow of Greenland’s Glaciers: New Study Could Improve Understanding of Greenland’s Contribution to Sea-level Rise

In northwestern Greenland, glaciers flow from the main ice sheet to the ocean in see-sawing seasonal patterns. The ice generally flows faster in the summer than in winter, and the ends of glaciers, jutting out into the ocean, also advance and [...]

RSESTeP students
May 26, 2015A Reward for Teachers: Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program (RSESTeP)

As part of a NASA-associated program, Michael Geiswhite and 28 of his 11th grade students from North Schuylkill Junior-Senior High School studied a coal mine fire that ignited in 1962 in Centralia, PA and forced the permanent exodus from their [...]

Server farm at Google
Mar 26, 2015Big Data Helps Scientists Dig Deeper

In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey took 3.6 million images acquired by Landsat satellites and made them free and openly available on the Internet.

Fremont Lake Basin
Mar 23, 2015Historical Satellite Images Reveal Snow is Melting Earlier in Wyoming

A NASA study of a basin in northwestern Wyoming revealed that the snowmelt season in the area is now ending on average about sixteen days earlier than it did from the 1970s through the 1990s.

DNC deforestation
Feb 25, 2015Landsat Shows Felling of Tropical Trees Has Soared

The rate at which tropical forests were cut, burned or otherwise lost from the 1990s through the 2000s accelerated by 62 percent, according to a new study which dramatically reverses a previous estimate of a 25 percent slowdown over the same [...]

Elephant Foot Glacier
Feb 18, 2015Landsat Goes Over The Top: A Long View of the Arctic

On February 11, 2013, the Landsat 8 satellite rocketed into space to extend a four-decade legacy of Earth observations. A few months after launch, we published a composite of images that spanned 9,000 kilometers of land from Russia to South [...]

Landsat data stack
Dec 9, 2014Unleashing Climate Data and Innovation for more Resilient Ecosystems

Ecosystems provide vast services and benefits to humankind: food and water that is needed for survival; nutrients and other natural products that fuel farms and industries; natural controls on many pests and pathogens; storage of carbon safely [...]

L8 image of Juneau, Alaska
Oct 30, 2014Over 20 Million Landsat Scenes Downloaded

Since 2008, all Landsat data—archived and newly acquired—have been available for free download. On September 16, 2014, users worldwide downloaded over 14,000 scenes from the servers at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) [...]

boat in the Sundarbans
Oct 29, 2014Mapping South Asia’s Mangroves

Along the sea’s edge in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, the dense coastal population lives largely in symbiosis with the region’s mangrove forests. Mangroves—a vast network of intertidal trees and shrubs with their characteristic [...]

abandoned farm in Montana
Sep 26, 2014Modeling a Changing American Landscape

Land change is a signature activity of human civilization. Since the dawn of history, people have purposefully converted natural landscapes to human-dominated areas. Typical motivations for land change are cultivation (e.g. slash-and-burn [...]

Chart showing old-growth forest loss in Indonesia, 2000-2012
Jul 30, 2014A Closer Look at Old-Growth Forest Loss in Indonesia

A group of researchers from the University of Maryland, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, and the World Resource Institute joined forces to remedy the lack of consensus about the amount of old-growth forest clearing occurring in Indonesia.

Map of nations with land cover mapping satellites
May 30, 2014Insights Provided by New Compendium of Land Cover Mapping Satellites

A compendium of civilian satellites with the potential to image global land surfaces has been compiled by Alan Belward and Jon Skøien from the Land Resource Management Unit of the European Commission’s Institute for Environment and [...]

Himilayas
May 28, 2014Glacier Monitoring in Nepal to Help Locals

A recently published report gives a comprehensive look at the glaciers of Nepal over the last three decades, at ten year increments (1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010). The information was derived from Landsat and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission [...]

Tad Pfeffer
May 7, 2014Nearly 200,000 Glaciers Mapped for Better Sea Level Rise Estimates

An international team led by glaciologists from the University of Colorado Boulder and Trent University in Ontario, Canada has completed the first mapping of virtually all of the world’s glaciers—including their locations and sizes—allowing for [...]

CLASlite team
Mar 7, 2014Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite) Classroom Launches in Spanish

On March 4, 2014, the CLASlite team at the Carnegie Institution for Science (Department of Global Ecology) launched the Spanish version of the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (or CLASlite) Classroom, hosted by Stanford University Online [...]

CLASlite in Peru
Dec 18, 2013Forest Monitoring: Bringing the Power to the People

Forest conservation is an issue of major concern to communities large and small around the globe. But gathering the monitoring data needed to make the right decisions has proven extremely prohibitive for individuals to entire governments.

North American forest changes 2000–2012
Nov 15, 2013When Trees Fall, Landsat Maps Them

The ravages of deforestation, wildfires, windstorms and insects on global forests during this century are revealed in unprecedented detail in a new study based on Landsat data.

Springtime temp, 2090
Nov 13, 2013NASA Brings Earth Science ‘Big Data’ to the Cloud with Amazon Web Services

NASA and Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) of Seattle, Wash., are making a large collection of NASA climate and Earth science satellite data available to research and educational users through the AWS cloud.

Allen Pope
Oct 22, 2013Studying Ice and Snow with Landsat 8

Allen Pope, a research assistant at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, recently created this video showing some of the ways Landsat 8 data are used to study the cryosphere.

Aerial view of glacial outwash plain in Iceland
Oct 18, 2013Surveying Ice and Fire: The First Map of All of Iceland’s Glaciers and Subglacier Volcanic Calderas Released

For the first time, all of Iceland’s glaciers are shown on a single map, produced by the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), in collaboration with the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Iceland Geosurvey. The map is the first to incorporate [...]

Child looking at Landsat image
Sep 27, 2013Mapping the World with Landsat

Speeding around the Earth at 16,800 mph (27,000 kph), two Landsat satellites are quietly, expertly watching and recording changes in Earth’s lands from space. They are gathering data for people to make maps–all kinds of wonderful maps–of our [...]

Burn severity map for Wallow Fire
Aug 29, 2013Landsat Revisits Old Flames in Fire Trends

The Wallow Fire burned over 500,000 acres, making it the largest fire in Arizona history, to date. It is one of many large fires that fire managers and researchers have seen scorch forests nationwide since the early 2000s.

Mauri Pelto in the field
Aug 27, 2013Meet Mauri Pelto, Glaciologist

At a small college in Dudley, Mass., a professor of Environmental Science is doing big things. Glaciologist Mauri Pelto is using Landsat imagery to monitor glaciers around the world from his office at Nichols College.

BAER soil scientist
Aug 21, 2013After a Fire, Before a Flood

While the 138,000-acre Silver Fire still smoldered, forest restoration specialists were on the job. They analyzed maps created using Landsat satellite data to determine where the burn destroyed vegetation and exposed soil—and where to focus [...]

Burning structure in Black Forest fire
Aug 9, 2013NASA ‘Fire Towers’ in Space Watch for Wildfires

The Black Forest wildfire this June was one of the most destructive in Colorado history, in terms of homes lost. It started close to houses and quickly spread through the ponderosa pine canopies on the rolling hills near Colorado Springs. The [...]