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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.

Hurricane Matthew Exacts Heavy Toll on HaitiBeauty of Earth Science Revealed Within Great Smoky MountainsCedar River Surges to Second-Highest Level in Eastern IowaLandsat Confirms Spatial Extent of Wind Tower Sediment PlumesLandslide Spreads 6 Miles Across Glacier Bay National ParkLandsat Records Aftermath of Historic World Trade Center AttackLandsat Monitors 1,800-Year-Old RedwoodsLandsat Shows Spread of Soberanes FireCrater Lake Image Shows Potential of Sentinel-2ALandsat Reveals Scar of 'Good Burn' at Guadalupe Mountains
Hurricane Matthew Exacts Heavy Toll on Haiti
A week after Hurricane Matthew slammed through southwestern Haiti on October 4, 2016, Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager sensor provided dramatic documentation of the scope of destruction in the Caribbean country.
Beauty of Earth Science Revealed Within Great Smoky Mountains
Earth Science reminds us that the study of Earth and its biological processes can occur anywhere—whether we realize it or not.
Cedar River Surges to Second-Highest Level in Eastern Iowa
On September 27, 2016, the Cedar River surged to a crest of 22 feet at Cedar Rapids, Iowa—6 feet above the river’s major flood stage designation.
Landsat Confirms Spatial Extent of Wind Tower Sediment Plumes
Earth observation satellites help researchers confirm the presence of large plumes containing suspended sediments extending from hundreds of wind towers in the coastal waters of the North Sea southeast of England.
Landslide Spreads 6 Miles Across Glacier Bay National Park
On June 28, 2016, a 4,000-foot-high mountainside in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve collapsed, sending rocky debris equivalent to 60 million mid-size SUVs tumbling onto nearby Lamplugh Glacier.
Landsat Records Aftermath of Historic World Trade Center Attack
Landsat's role in monitoring land use and land cover changes on Earth gives it a spectacular view of the planets most historic events.
Landsat Monitors 1,800-Year-Old Redwoods
Redwood National and State Parks in northern California are the embodiment of America’s ongoing challenge to balance the country’s economic interests against preserving its natural wilderness, protecting some forested lands while allowing for resource extraction elsewhere.
Landsat Shows Spread of Soberanes Fire
A wildfire near Soberanes Creek along the Pacific coast of California started July 22, 2016, and spread to over 86,000 acres one month later.
Crater Lake Image Shows Potential of Sentinel-2A
This image from the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2A satellite offers a breathtaking view of Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon.
Landsat Reveals Scar of 'Good Burn' at Guadalupe Mountains
Wildfires in wilderness areas like Guadalupe Mountains National Park in west Texas are always a danger, but they can produce what land managers call a “good burn,” too.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

2016 William T. Pecora Award Recognizes Excellence in Earth Observation

Dr. Curtis E. Woodcock, individual award, and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), group award, were announced as the recipients of the award.

2016 William T. Pecora Award: Nominations being accepted through June 10, 2016

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to individuals or groups that have made outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. Nominations for the 2016 award must be received by June 10, 2016.

Landsat 8 Thermal Data Update

Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) data continue to be collected with the scene select mirror encoder electronics disabled (mode 0). While in this mode, the TIRS line of sight model (LOS) will be regularly updated and modifications are being made to automate revisions to the LOS in the Level-1 Product Generation System (LPGS).
Landsat 8 Operational Land Imagery (OLI) and TIRS data that have been collected through the 4th quarter of 2015 (October-December) will be reprocessed into nominal Level-1 products containing valid TIRS data, and will be available in February 2016.
TIRS data acquired during the 1st quarter of 2016 (January-March) will be reprocessed and made available in April. A strategy is being developed for generating near-real time products moving forward while operating in mode 0. More details will be posted on the Landsat Missions Web site as they become available.

A New Era of Space Collaboration between Australia and U.S.

On June 18, 2015 in Canberra, Australia, the U.S. Geological Survey and Geoscience Australia signed a comprehensive new partnership to maximize land remote sensing operations and data that can help to address issues of national and international significance.

USGS Ups Ease of Use for Landsat Data

The USGS has begun production of higher-level (more highly processed) Landsat data products to help advance land surface change studies. One such product is Landsat surface reflectance data. Surface reflectance data products approximate what a sensor held just above the Earth's surface would measure, if conditions were ideal. The precise removal of atmospheric artifacts increases the consistency and comparability between images of the Earth's surface taken at different times of the year and different times of the day.

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

Featured Science

Multiple Satellite Eyes to Track Algal Threat to U.S. Freshwater
Algal Blooms

Landsat 8 is demonstrating promising new capabilities for water quality assessment. Satellite-based instruments allow for more frequent observations over broader areas than physical water sampling. Four federal agencies—NASA, NOAA, EPA, and USGS—are joining forces to develop an early warning system for toxic and nuisance algal blooms. Through this project, satellite data on harmful algal blooms will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals. This will improve detection of these blooms and help researchers better understand the conditions under which they occur.

Landsat Data aids in Study: U.S. Eastern Ecosystems Helps 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.

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

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Page Last Modified: October 21, 2016