Source: Joan Moody, Department of the Interior
Today Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes announced that a new geospatial website, “ChangeMatters,” has made the Department of the Interior’s satellite imagery of the world more easily accessible to the public.
Developed by Esri, the site allows users to view the Global Land Survey (GLS) Landsat data developed by Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA, which spans a time period from 1975 to 2005. By viewing GLS satellite imagery throughout the world, anyone can monitor and map change between epochs resulting from events such as forest harvesting, urban growth, wildfires, floods, pest outbreaks, and drought.
“Landsat satellite imagery is one of the most valuable resources for Earth observation,” stated Deputy Secretary Hayes. “Esri’s website achieves the kind of thing we had hoped to see happen by making USGS’s Landsat dataset available to the public. The website will enable people and scientists around the world to more quickly and easily see how landscapes have changed over the years. Nearly four decades of continuously acquired data provide a remarkable window to our planet.”
“The site brings the ability to monitor landscape change to internet users worldwide,” said Esri President Jack Dangermond. “We are excited to showcase this valuable government resource, using Esri’s image-service technology, which allows rapid delivery of imagery over the web through dynamic mosaicing and the on-the-fly processing of a large number of images.”
The website leverages the 40-year U.S. government investment in the collection and archiving of continuous worldwide Landsat imagery for earth observation. USGS began providing Landsat imagery to the public for free two years ago. At 30- meter spatial resolution, Landsat imagery is useful for mapping regional trends in agriculture, climate change, wildlife habitat, forestry, regional planning, coastal zones, and national security, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated value to the U.S. economy per year. Each Landsat satellite image “sees” more than humans can by collecting data in the infrared, as well as the visible (natural color) portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The website permits users to roam the Earth, choose the decade they want to view, and pick from different combinations of Landsat bands, each highlighting a different application. For example, pest outbreaks can be monitored using the “Healthy Vegetation” band combination, and water flooding can be viewed using the “Land/Water” combination.
The site also includes a change-detection tool that users can employ to view and map landscape change by decade. Several examples and tutorials are included in the site–such as wildfire damage in Grand Canyon National Park, bark beetle mortality in the Rocky Mountains, deforestation in Haiti, conversion from forests to agriculture in Paraguay, wetland loss in the Mississippi River delta, and the decline of water level in Lake Mead.
“This announcement complements Interior’s Open Government Plan to incorporate transparency, collaboration and participation into the mission for an open and accountable government,” said Assistant Secretary of Water and Science Anne Castle. “We are very pleased that this Landsat data can be the platform for new innovative products that provide great value to many end users and are publicly available.”
In March 2011, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced plans to make the USGS the permanent manager of the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites, a recommendation endorsed by both the Obama and Bush Administrations. Landsat has become vital to the Nation’s agricultural, water management, disaster response, and national security sectors, providing an estimated $935 million in value to the U.S. economy per year. Working closely with NASA to procure and build future satellites, a USGS-led program will best ensure the continued collection and maintenance of this important scientific resource.