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USGS - science for a changing world

Land Remote Sensing Program

The USGS is fostering the use of land remote sensing technology to meet local, national, and global challenges.

2014 World Cup - Rio de Janeiro, BrazilFlooding in Southeastern South Dakota28 Years of Landscape Change in Texas, USAFire at Iraq Oil RefineryFunny River Fire, AlaskaFlooding in the Balkan PeninsulaFires in California, USATornado in Arkansas, USWinter Ice Cover, Lake Superior (USA/Canada)Drought Conditions in California, USA
2014 World Cup - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This Landsat 7 image was acquired on June 26, 2014. The image shows the location of the stadium (white circle) where the 2014 World Cup final match took place.
Flooding in Southeastern South Dakota
In June 2014, southeastern South Dakota received record amounts of rainfall, and parts of neighboring states also received excessive rainfall due to a series of severe storms.
28 Years of Landscape Change in Texas, USA
These images show a portion of the Texas Panhandle where it meets the western border of Oklahoma. The area is part of the Granite Wash region, which contains over 3,600 wells that mine oil and natural gas.
Fire at Iraq Oil Refinery
A Landsat 8 image from June 18 shows a plume of smoke billowing from a large oil refinery in Baiji, Iraq.
Funny River Fire, Alaska
The Funny River Fire was first discovered on May 19, 2014. By early June, it had burned almost 200,000 acres in south-central Alaska.
Flooding in the Balkan Peninsula
The Balkan area of Europe received extraordinary amounts of rainfall during the month of May 2014, which led to the region's worst flooding in more than 120 years.
Fires in California, USA
A series of wildfires erupted along the coastal region north of San Diego, California, in mid-May 2014.
Tornado in Arkansas, US
A tornado that touched down in central Arkansas on April 27, 2014, proved devastating and deadly.
Winter Ice Cover, Lake Superior (USA/Canada)
The extreme cold of the 2013-2014 winter season created historic ice cover on the North American Great Lakes and much slower than normal spring melt.
Drought Conditions in California, USA
These three images show a portion of California's Central Valley (left side of the images) and the neighboring Sierra Nevada mountains as viewed by Landsat in February 2011, 2013, and 2014.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

Released: National Plan for Civil Earth Observations

Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a National Plan for Civil Earth Observations that aims to maximize the value of observations collected by Federal agencies of the Earth's land surfaces, oceans, and atmosphere. The Plan is a blueprint for future Federal investments in and strategic partnerships to advance Earth observing systems that help protect life and property, stimulate economic growth, maintain homeland security, and advance scientific research and public understanding.

Released: Summary of Moderate Resolution Imaging User Requirements

USGS is developing a functional capability to obtain, characterize, manage, maintain and prioritize all Earth observing, land remote sensing user requirements. The goal is a better understanding of community needs that can be supported with land remote sensing resources, and a means to match needs with appropriate solutions in an effective and efficient way. The requirements gathered in this study were utilized as input to the USGS-NASA Sustainable Land Imagery report currently being developed, and as an input and requirement elicitation enhancement for the on-going USGS National Land Imaging Requirements Project.

2014 Pecora 19 Symposium
"Sustaining Land Imaging: UAS to Satellites"
DEADLINE: June 20, 2014

The Pecora Symposium series was established by the USGS and NASA in the 1970s as a forum to foster the exchange of scientific information and results derived from applications of remotely sensed data to a broad range of land-based resources. The Technical Program Committee seeks presentations and posters that highlight past remote sensing successes, current investigations, technological advances for assessing the Earth's systems, and operational monitoring of land surface.

A Landsat 8 Yearbook: Earth Images for Everyone

To mark an extremely successful first year of space operation for Landsat 8, the scientists and imagery experts at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center have selected 10 sets of images that demonstrate the broad range of changes on the land that Landsat 8 has observed in its first year and compiled them in a special collection - the Landsat 8 Yearbook.

New Teaching Resource for Remote Sensing

Comparing Landsat satellite images over multiple years reveals slow and subtle changes as well as rapid and devastating ones. The Tracking Change Over Time lesson plan (grades 5-8), enhances students' learning of geography, earth science, and problem solving by seeing landscape changes from space. The lesson plan includes an introduction to satellite images, an introduction to remote sensing, instructions on how to use the free software MultiSpec, and modules that go deeper into specific areas of remote sensing application. The latest module, "River Flooding," is now available. Students discover how a flood in June 2008 affected southern Indiana and Illinois. The module takes a problem-based approach to show students how satellite images can be used to analyze the changes that a flood causes. The images used in the lesson, along with supplementary materials, are also available at

Visit the Highlights Archive for information highlighted here in the past.

Featured Science

Landsat Data aids in Study: U.S. Eastern Ecosystems Help Counter Greenhouse Gas Emissions Contributing to Climate Change
Eastern Ecosystems Helps Counter Greenhouse Gas Emissions

USGS scientists used Landsat data to determine that forests, wetlands and farms in the eastern U.S. naturally store 300 million tons of carbon a year, which is nearly 15 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year or an amount that exceeds and offsets yearly U.S. car emissions. In conjunction with the national assessment, USGS released a new web tool, which allows users to see the land and water carbon storage and change in their ecosystems between 2005 and 2050 in the lower 48 states. Biological carbon storage - also known as carbon sequestration - is the process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere and stored as carbon in vegetation, soils and sediment. The USGS estimates the ability of different ecosystems to store carbon now and in the future, providing vital information for land-use and land-management decisions. Management of carbon stored in our ecosystems and agricultural areas is relevant both for mitigation of climate change and for adaptation to such changes.

Tracking Urban Change and Flood Risk with Landsat
Tracking Urban Change and Flood Risk with Landsat

When it comes to helping communities across the US stay up-to-date on their flood risk, the Landsat satellite can take a bow. Landsat images help track urban change, a factor that can impact a community's flood risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, uses these images to help identify where they should launch a new flood study. Flood studies determine how prone different neighborhoods are to floods of a certain intensity or likelihood.

Visit the Featured Science Archive for information highlighted here in the past.

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Page Last Modified: June 30, 2014