Jodhpur
Dec 16, 2016A Map for Preserving a Sustainable Society

On creating a high-quality map of urban areas in India.

Springtime on an Urban Heat Island
Dec 15, 2016Springtime on an Urban Heat Island

How the urban heat island of Boston affects the growing season of vegetation in and around the city.

Medellin at dusk
Dec 15, 2016Mapping Cities Worldwide

We know very little about cities worldwide. In many instances we have little idea about the use and morphology of cities.

Milan skyline
Nov 1, 2015Urbanization Affects Air and Water in Italy’s Po Plain

In a recent Eos Project Update, a group of researchers from Italy and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab shared the results of their large Po Plain Experiment (POPLEX).

Typical American suburban community with model homes.
Sep 15, 2015USGS Maps Anthropogenic Land Use Trends, 1974–2012

More and more we hear the term “anthropocene” used to describe the current epoch of our planet when humankind has had a profound impact on Earth. This month, the U.S. Geological Survey has released a Landsat-based report and dataset on anthropogenic land use trends in the U.S. between 1974 and 2012.

urban heat island
Aug 25, 2015Vegetation Essential for Limiting City Warming Effects

Cities are well known hot spots – literally. The urban heat island effect has long been observed to raise the temperature of big cities by 1 to 3°C (1.8 to 5.4°F), a rise that is due to the presence of asphalt, concrete, buildings, and other so-called impervious surfaces disrupting the natural cooling effect provided by vegetation. According to a new NASA study that makes the first assessment of urbanization impacts for the entire continental United States, the presence of vegetation is an essential factor in limiting urban heating.

ProPublica Landsat Las Vegas
Jun 4, 2015ProPublica Welcomes Readers to Las Vegas with Landsat

ProPublica has put together an interactive graphic called Welcome to Las Vegas*” that uses 40 years worth of Landsat data, together with a graphic representation of the city’s changing skyline and its water use statistics.

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 fields, rice paddies, modern farms); occupation (villages, cities, housing developments); and other cultural and economic pursuits (roads, schools, airports).

Bahrain built-up areas 2013
Apr 22, 2014Looking at Urban Expansion in Bahrain

Satellite images since 1987 show substantial environmental change on the island nation of Bahrain, including shifting vegetation patterns and more than a doubling in the extent of urbanization, according to a new analysis by the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

May 9, 2013Landsat Images Provide the Gold Standard for New Earth Applications

May 9, 2013 • Images from Landsat satellites provided free to the public by the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey were the starting points for “a new breakthrough” reported today by Time and announced on the Official Google Blog. Using its Earth Engine technology, Google has compiled decades of Landsat images into a new, interactive time-lapse […]

Las Vegas in 2010
Mar 7, 2012What Doesn’t Stay in Vegas? Sprawl

Mar 7, 2012 • The city of Las Vegas, Nevada has undergone a massive growth spurt. An image series, created in honor of Landsat 5’s twenty-eighth birthday, shows the city sprawling across the desert over time. Data from the expansion of Las Vegas was compiled from the fleet of Landsat satellites, and is shown as […]

Feb 8, 2011Mapping and Measuring Urban Expansion to Inform Policy

Feb 8, 2011 • While urban expansion in Europe and America has been stymied by the recent economic slowdown, the developing world’s cities have been gobbling up land. In cities with more than 100,000 people, urban land cover expansion is outpacing population growth. In a policy report released by the non-partisan Lincoln Institute of Land […]

Mar 10, 2010Landsat and the “Human Invader”

Mar 10, 2010 • In an article titled “Modeling the human invader in the United States,” USGS scientists Thomas Stohlgren, Catherine Jarnevich, and Chandra Giri modeled humans as an “invasive species” as they “spread” in the conterminous U.S. from 1992 to 2001. Using the Landsat-derived National Land Cover Data (NLCD) together with a modeling program […]

Feb 23, 2010Deforestation Driven by 21st Century Urbanites

Feb 23, 2010 • A recently published Nature Geoscience article by Ruth DeFries et al. reveals that urban pressures (for food and resources) have replaced subsistence farmers as the leading driver of tropical deforestation this century. The study used MODIS and Landsat data to analyze 98 percent of the world’s tropical forests between 2000 and 2005. Correlations […]

Land cover in the York, PA region
Feb 22, 2010Landsat Images Offer Clearer Picture of Changes in Chesapeake Watershed

Feb 22, 2010 • Images taken from satellites more than 400 miles above the Earth’s surface are bringing land-cover changes throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed into tighter focus. The images, which capture tracts as small as 30 square meters, offer a surprising picture of some trends in land cover. For instance, they indicate that the […]

Jun 24, 2009Landsat Looks at Land Use Trends Around Mobile Bay

Jun 24, 2009 • A recent NASA Technical Report from Stennis Space Center has used Landsat data to document land use changes in Alabama’s Mobile Bay watershed between 1972 and 2008. Over those 36 years, researchers found a 55 percent increase in urban areas. The urban expansion mainly occurred in regions which were formerly covered […]

Jul 10, 2008Diversity and Biomass of Tropical Forests Cleared for Land Development

Jul 10, 2008 • To learn more about the tropical forests that are cleared when urban and residential development spreads, scientists assembled the most comprehensive time series of land cover maps to date for the island of Puerto Rico.  They learned that most of the forests cleared for land development from 1991 to 2000, 55%, […]

Chesapeake Bay
Apr 22, 2008Landsat’s Role in Chesapeake Bay Management

Apr 22, 2008 • John Smith’s Bay Then & Now – When Captain John Smith first explored the Chesapeake Bay in 1607, the “Great Shellfish Bay,” as it was called by the Algonquian Natives, had transparent waters teeming with aquatic life, massive oyster reefs, tremendous waterfowl flocks, and uninterrupted virgin hardwood forests on its shores. […]

Karen Seto
Jul 4, 2007Landsat Links Urban Growth and Rainfall Pattern Change

Jul 4, 2007 • For the first time, scientists have used satellite images to demonstrate a link between rapid city growth and rainfall patterns, as well as to assess compliance with an international treaty to protect wetlands. The results have been published in two studies co-authored by Karen Seto, assistant professor of geological and environmental […]

Cities from Space
Feb 15, 2007Landsat Data Used to Understand Urban Environments

A new website featuring Landsat images of 77 international cities has been published by the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). By analyzing urban reflectance (both visible and infrared) and surface temperatures, SEDAC has established criteria to help distinguish urban land cover from other land cover types. These spatial characterizations of urban land cover extent […]