Landsat's Critical Role in Understanding Climate Change
Long-term weather patterns averaged over 30 years or more make up our climate. Human well-being—our infrastructure and agriculture—depend on a reliable climate. This reliability allows farmers to plant seeds in the spring with confidence that temperatures and rainfall will sustain crops in the coming months. It allows communities to build and maintain roads, buildings, and drainage systems best suited to local conditions. Earth’s climate is controlled by the amount of energy that flows through the atmosphere, oceans, and land. By adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere—primarily carbon dioxide—people are increasing the amount of energy in the Earth system that would otherwise escape to space. This increase in energy is changing Earth’s climate, and consequently, the weather patterns that people rely on are shifting. Changes in long-term weather patterns have wide-ranging impacts on ecosystems and peoples’ lives. Designed to observe land and coastal ecosystems, Landsat instruments provide an unparalleled space-based record of the impact of climate change on Earth’s landscapes, the growth and loss of carbon- storing.
Climate Change Pushes Wildfires to New Heights
Wildfires in the western United States have been spreading to higher elevations over the past few decades due to warmer and drier conditions that are clearly linked to climate change.
California’s Iconic Blue Oak Woodlands Threatened by Hotter, More Frequent Droughts
California’s blue oak woodlands have decreased by more than 1,200 square kilometers.
Mountaintop Glacier Ice Disappearing in Tropics Worldwide
Mountaintop glacier ice in the tropics of all four hemispheres covers significantly less area than it did just 50 years ago.
Landsat Shows Plant Die-Offs in Southern California Driven by Climate Change
Landsat data stretching back 40 years show that vegetation loss is most stark in desert ecosystems already on edge of habitability.
Extreme Melt on Antarctica’s George VI Ice Shelf
Antarctica’s George VI Ice Shelf experienced record melting during the 2019-2020 summer season.
Quantifying Forests’ Impacts on Global Carbon Budget with Satellites
A new method, fusing data from many sources, has been developed for quantifying forests’ role as both carbon sink and carbon source.