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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.

Water, Gravity Carve Out Magnificent CanyonlandsFire and Rebirth: Landsat Tells Yellowstone’s StoryLandsat, ASTER Work Together on Russian WildfiresLandsat Reveals Industrial Growth in Powder River BasinNew Delhi Among Fastest Growing Urban Areas in the WorldLarge Wildfire Consumes Boreal Forest in Eastern RussiaBeaufort Sea Ice Experiences Unusually Early BreakupLake Mead Reaches Historic LowRain-Swollen Brazos River Floods Suburban HoustonLandsat 8 Imagery Reveals Heavy Flooding in Sri Lanka
Water, Gravity Carve Out Magnificent Canyonlands
In September 1964, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall successfully shepherded some of the most remote and rugged terrain within the continental United States into the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS) with the creation of Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah.
Fire and Rebirth: Landsat Tells Yellowstone’s Story
In the summer of 1988, a wildfire ravaged the world's first national park, consuming 1.2 million acres in and around the Greater Yellowstone Park ecosystem.
Landsat, ASTER Work Together on Russian Wildfires
Remotely sensed imagery of wildfires burning in the Siberia region of Russia shows the complementary possibilities of Landsat 8 and NASA’s ASTER sensor aboard its Terra satellite.
Landsat Reveals Industrial Growth in Powder River Basin
The expanding coal fields in Wyoming's Powder River Basin serve as prime examples of Landsat's ability to monitor land cover change related to industrial growth across the American landscape.
New Delhi Among Fastest Growing Urban Areas in the World
In a world becoming increasingly urbanized, few cities have seen growth as dramatic as that occurring in India's capital of New Delhi.
Large Wildfire Consumes Boreal Forest in Eastern Russia
A massive wildfire on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia has consumed nearly 600,000 acres of boreal forest and tundra since late May 2016.
Beaufort Sea Ice Experiences Unusually Early Breakup
Ice covering Beaufort Sea near the Arctic Ocean typically reaches full-blown breakup by late May each year as air and water temperatures warm, and as daylight turns longer. But 2016 has been dramatically different.
Lake Mead Reaches Historic Low
The surface level of Lake Mead in Nevada and Arizona has fallen to a historic low as 16 years of ongoing drought in the American Southwest continue to impact the Colorado River Basin.
Rain-Swollen Brazos River Floods Suburban Houston
Heavy rains that began falling during Memorial Day weekend in late May 2016 pushed the Brazos River, 30 miles southwest of Houston, Texas, toward a near-record flooding stage that hasn't been seen since 1913, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Landsat 8 Imagery Reveals Heavy Flooding in Sri Lanka
On May 18, 2016, a Landsat 8 acquisition of flood-ravaged Sri Lanka produced impressive imagery of swollen waterways.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

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.

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.

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 06, 2015