Landsat’s Critical Role Forest Management
People and economies around the world rely on forests for timber, carbon storage, flood control, biological diversity, recreation, and more. Forest managers face many challenges. In the last few years, forest fires have become more intense and more frequent; North American forests have experienced widespread infestations by pests such as the pine bark beetle; and tropical deforestation continues. Our changing climate adds complexity to government and commercial decisions about how to manage, protect, and sustain our forest resources. Landsat satellites provide key data for forest monitoring and management across the globe. Landsat gives us consistent views of the health, composition, and extent of forest ecosystems as they change over time. Curtis Woodcock, Professor, Boston University and specialist in remote sensing, has said, “I would argue that the Landsat data archive may be the most valuable environmental data record we have.” Designed, built, and launched by NASA, Landsat satellites have recorded global forest conditions every year since the 1970’s, and they have observed all U.S. forests once a season throughout those years. The U.S. Geological Survey provides this valuable data to the public at no cost. Landsat observations will continue into the future with Landsat 8.
A combination of lightning, drought and human activity caused fires to scorch more than one-third of Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988.
The 2014 megafires in Canada’s Northwest Territories burned 7 million acres of forest, making it one of the most severe fire events in Canadian history.
SDSU post-doc Pedro Oliveira is integrating remote sensing data from airborne LiDAR and Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 satellites to map the height of the Brazilian Amazon forest canopy.
A new, highly accurate, automated way to detect clouds and their shadows from satellite images over unusually cloudy places.
Annual maps of the lower-48 United States produced from Landsat satellite data illustrate how these dynamic systems changed from 1986-2010.
Last spring, NASA researchers flew over the Everglades and Puerto Rico to measure how mangroves and rainforests grow and evolve over time, then hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.