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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.

Expansion of the Suez Canal, EgyptIsland-Building in the South PacificLaguna Pastos Grandes, BoliviaEye of the Sahara, MauritaniaLusi Mud Volcano, IndonesiaSockeye Fire, AlaskaTrinity River Flooding, Texas2015 Earthquake and Landslides, Nepal35th Anniversary of Mount St. Helens EruptionHaruj Volcanic Field, LibyaChanges to Lake Urmia, IranIceland\
Expansion of the Suez Canal, Egypt
The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It is one of the world's most important waterways for trade, but the main channel was previously too narrow to allow ships to travel and pass in opposite directions.
Island-Building in the South Pacific
An undersea volcano between the two small islands of Hunga Tonga (right) and Hunga Ha'apai (left) began erupting in early December 2014. After about a month of eruptive activity, a new landmass had formed, nearly joining the two islands.
Laguna Pastos Grandes, Bolivia
Laguna Pastos Grandes is a shallow salt lake located in Bolivia’s Pastos Grandes volcanic caldera.
Eye of the Sahara, Mauritania
Near the western edge of the Sahara Desert is a feature that resembles a large eye when viewed from space.
Lusi Mud Volcano, Indonesia
The largest mud volcano in the world is located in Porong, Sidoarjo in Indonesia, where it is locally called the Lusi Mud Volcano. Mud volcanoes are created when hot mud (rather than lava) erupts from a vent on the Earth's surface. This type of eruption typically includes a mixture of steam and gas, groundwater, and mud-based slurry.
Sockeye Fire, Alaska
The afternoon of Sunday June 14, Alaskan authorities were notified of a 40-acre fire in Willow, AK. Named the Sockeye Fire for the street where the fire began, the fire moved quickly through the black spruce forested area due to flat topography and hot, dry, windy weather.
Trinity River Flooding, Texas
Heavy rains fell over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana in late May 2015. Many lakes and rivers filled and overflowed their banks, causing widespread flooding in both urban and rural areas.
2015 Earthquake and Landslides, Nepal
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015. Along with damage due to shaking, the earthquake and its aftershocks triggered many large and small landslides throughout the region.
35th Anniversary of Mount St. Helens Eruption
The violent eruption of Mount St. Helens 35 years ago permanently changed the mountain and surrounding forest.
Haruj Volcanic Field, Libya
Haruj is the large volcanic field that dominates this Landsat image mosaic acquired over central Libya.
Changes to Lake Urmia, Iran
Lake Urmia, located in northwestern Iran, was once one of the largest saltwater lakes in the Middle East. These Landsat images show the changes to Lake Urmias surface area over the past fourteen years.
Iceland's Ice Caps
These two Landsat images show several of Iceland's ice caps as they appeared in September 1986 and 2014.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

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.

NASA,USGS Begin Work on Landsat 9

NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have started work on Landsat 9, planned to launch in 2023, which will provide mission-critical continuity in the Earth-observing program's record of land images.

2015 William T. Pecora Award: Nominations being accepted through June 15, 2015

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 2015 award must be received by June 15, 2015.

Landsat Seen as Stunning Return on Public Investment

Taking a hard look at the value of Landsat to the U.S. economy was the goal of the Landsat Advisory Group of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee. The team of commercial, state/local government, and non-profit geospatial information experts updated a critical review of the value of Landsat information that was recently released to the public. Their conclusion states the economic value of just one year of Landsat data far exceeds the multi-year total cost of building, launching, and managing the satellites and sensors. The impressive return emphasizes Landsat's role as a crucial national asset comparable to the satellite-based GPS system and National Weather Service satellites. Empowered by free access to the Landsat data archive since 2008, researchers are examining our planet in much greater detail.

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: August 06, 2015