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Archive for June, 2007

Satellite Images for Wildfire Assessment at Lake Tahoe

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Fire and emergency applications are one of the strongest uses of GIS and remote sensing, particularly fire mapping, responding to emergency situations, hazardous fuels reduction, community assistance, firefighting, rehabilitation, and restoration. Forest fires have an important influence on the vegetation, habitats, water resources, air quality, microclimate and even general climate.

Forestry organizations and agencies have a unique and critical role in the nation’s governance. They serve in public land management, private land regulation, and wildfire management. While their significance is growing due to these roles and the increasing impact of forestry on other matters of societal importance many state foresters have indicated that geospatial technology is an invaluable resource whenever they need to understand, communicate, and make effective decisions about conditions on the ground.


MODIS Satellite Sensor – Lake Tahoe Fires 2002 (Image Credit NASA)


ASTER Satellite Sensor – Lake Tahoe Vegetation Classification
(Image Credit: NASA/Japanese Space Team

Current Lake Tahoe Fires(June – 26, 2007)From Gold Rush clear-cutters to modern home-builders, people have brought 150 years of mismanagement to the Sierra Nevada ecosystems that produced changes to the Tahoe basin which fueled the 2,500 acre Angora fire this past week near the town of South Lake Tahoe. Approximately 200 homes had fallen to the 2-day-old blaze which was only less than 50 percent contained and causing ash and burned materials to runoff into the Lake.

In the Aster satellite image above, acquired in November 2000 shows vegetation that can be seen in red. The image on the right, acquired at the same time by a different spectral band of the instrument, is color coded to show the bottom of the lake around the shoreline. Where te data are black, the bottom cannot be seen. Scientists have been monitoring the lake water clarity from boat measurements since 1965 and have discovered that the lake along the California-Nevada border has lost more than one foot of visibility each year due to increased algal growth, sediment washed in from the surrounding areas, and urban growth and development.

Researchers and scientists have long been trying to predict the behavior of forest fires by using using high resolution satellite imagery and GIS in order to model a forest fire, the techniques for obtaining, analyzing and displaying spatial information in a timely and cost-effective manner are needed which has proven not only to be possible, but incredibly efficient and effective for the prevention and recovery of forest fires.

Satellite Image Data to Monitor and Assess Global Desertification

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Desertification is a land degradation problem of major importance in the arid regions of the world. Deterioration in soil and plant cover has adversely affected nearly 70 percent of the drylands which is the result of human mismanagement of cultivation and range lands. Overgrazing, woodcutting, cultivation practices inducing accelerated water and wind erosion, improper water management leading to salinisation, are all causes of land degradation. In addition to vegetation deterioration, erosion, and salinisation, desertification effects can be seen in loss of soil fertility, soil compaction, and soil crusting. Combating desertification involves having an accurate knowledge on a current land degradation status and the magnitude of the potential hazard.

Quantitative, high-spectral resolution satellite remote sensing can dramatically increase the accuracy of dryland monitoring. Hyperspectral imagery incorporated with field and laboratory data for analysis can be used to derive more quantitative and specific soil properties directly linked to soil degradation status, such as soil chemical properties, organic matter, mineralogical content, infiltration capacity, aggregation capacity, and runoff coefficient.


Desertification – Yemen

Landsat Image

Satellite imagery data can be used at different spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions for assessment and monitoring of change detection, environmental analysis, landscape mapping and soils analysis. Images can show variations in organic matter and drainage patterns. Soils higher in organic matter can be differentiated from lighter sandier soil that has a lower organic matter content. This Geospatial information is valuable when used in conjunction with ancillary data to define desertification problems. Once data has been collected it can be implemented into a mapping environment such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for management and control to make the necessary changes .

Satellite Imagery for Easter Island Statue Renovation Project

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Called the Navel of the World, Easter Island is home to over a half-dozen volcanoes and more than 880 statues called “Moai” (pronounced mo-eye). Ranging from just a few feet to more than 30 feet tall, the enigmatic statues weigh up to 150 tons. They were formed from volcanic material from quarries on the slopes of the Rano Raraku volcano sometime after 300 AD. Lying in the easternmost Polynesian island situated on the Nazca Plate at a volcanic and tectonic “hot spot”. These statues of Rano Raraku majority of them were transported and erected for a variety of ceremonial structures called “ahu”. While nearly all of the moai face toward the interior of the island some of them face towards the ocean and a point on the horizon where the sun sets during the equinox. The Ahu Naunau are shown in the IKONOS satellite image(top) and the Ahu Tongariki are show in the QuickBird image(bottom). Explorer, Captain James Cook gave the island its modern name in 1774.

IKONOS- Easter Island – (Ahu Nau Nau Statues)



QuickBird - Easter Island (Ahu Tongariki Statues)

To view a map of Easter Island of Location of Moai Statues Click Here:
More on Easter Island

First Map of “Moai”

Researchers and archaeologist used satellite Remote Sensing and GPS technology to locate, describe and understand the statues complexities and to supply historical information to the Rapa Nui community and public agencies whom are responsible of the preservation and conservation of the statues.

The spectrum of sunlight reflected by the Earth’s surface contains information about the composition of the surface and it may reveal traces of past human activities, such as agriculture, structures and roads, vegetation and all kinds of rocks have distinctive temperatures and emit heat at different rates which satellite sensors can “see” that ordinary vision can not. Remote Sensing can be used as a methodological procedure for detecting, acquiring inventory and prioritizing surface and shallow-depth archaeological information in a rapid, accurate and quantified manner.

Once data and information have been collected researchers and archaeologists will have a better understanding of the symbolic meaning and function of the “moai” statues.

Satellite Image Captures Tropical Cyclone Gonu in Arabian Sea

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Satellite Image captured Cyclone Gonu a category 5 on June 4, Gonu threatened the Arabian Sea and 1/5th of the World’s Oil. The cyclone tore through Oman and Iran causing 32 fatalities and 30 still missing, police said.

The last storm to hit was Cyclone 01A in May 2001. Gonu was the strongest storm to hit the Arabian Sea since 1945 with winds of 155 miles an hour was uncommon in the area, but not rare in Northern Indian Basin, the storm caused panic and evacuation for the area towns and refineries in Oman causing oil prices to decline by Friday.

Tropical Cyclone Gonu (June 2007) – MODIS Satellite Sensor


Image Credit: NASA

MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is a key instrument aboard the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites. Terra’s orbit around the Earth is timed so that it passes from north to south across the equator in the morning, while Aqua passes south to north over the equator in the afternoon. Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the entire Earth’s surface every 1 to 2 days, acquiring data in 36 spectral bands, or groups of wavelengths (see MODIS Technical Specifications). These data will improve our understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the land, in the oceans, and in the lower atmosphere. MODIS is playing a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment.

Remote sensing satellite data is actively used in developing early cyclone warning signal systems, effective evacuation plans, damage assessment and other mitigation plans and gives state and government agencies the ability to view the pre and post damage from multiple vantage points.

Satellite Image Data to Monitor Destruction to Villages in Darfur, Sudan

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Satellite Imagery is being used by Amnesty International a human rights organization to monitor villages on the ground in Darfur, Sudan through a project called Eyes On Darfur ( led by Ariela Blatter, Director of Crisis Prevention and Response Center for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA).

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes in the vast region in western Sudan since 2003 by Janjaweed militia. Due to the government refusing demands of sending peacekeepers to stop the human right violations, Amnesty International will be using high resolution satellite images to capture and monitor the events and to show and tell President al-Bashir they will be watching him closely.

The satellite imagery and geospatial technology are being used to identify new destruction and the vulnerability of natural resources by attacks from militia. Eyes on Darfur provides up to date information via on-line on the events that are happening there. Amnesty International wants the world to observe the damage and devastation that is occurring to the villagers by viewing before and after satellite images of the attacks and the need for support to stop this brutality.

Satellite images can provide information of damage to structures, assess the potential areas of attack and to analyze vegetation and land cover change detection for monitoring the events that are happening on the ground by as little as two feet.

Amnesty International has been involved in the protection of human rights since 1961 and Noble Prize Winner with an organization of over one million members.


Amnesty International

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