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Satellite Images and Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) Help Monitor Global Warming and Climate Change

The Earth, our home in space, is a varied and dynamic place. Since the beginning of human history we have sought a better understanding of the world around us. With the new technology of the aerospace age and satellite image technology, we can look back and appreciate the diversity and the beauty of the Earth in a way not possible until the 20th century.

geoeye-1 satellite

Geoeye-1 Satellite Sensor – Panchromatic and Multispectral Imaging

Copyright GeoEye

Since 1990’s a new generation of satellite sensors with powerful capabilities have been launched to collect massive amounts of data about our planet and the many changes it has experienced.

There are dozens of remote sensing satellites orbiting the Earth collecting invaluable information about the Earth’s surface, oceans and the atmosphere and how they interact. Satellite images have been collected for scientific and technical purposes as well as just appreciating its simple beauty. These satellites collect information that our eyes cannot, collections from 30M to 0.5M resolution is now available.

Satellite images provide important land coverage information for mapping and classification of land cover features, such as vegetation, soil, water and forests for monitoring and managing Earth’s vital natural resources and the current global climate changes.

satellite image typhoon morakot Taiwan

Typhoon Morakot, Tawain – QuickBird Satellite Image (0.61m)

Copyright DigitalGlobe

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. From glacial periods (or “ice ages”) where ice covered significant portions of the Earth to interglacial periods where ice retreated to the poles or melted entirely – the climate and the Earth has continuously changed.

The shallow end of the Glaciers are melting swiftly. Glaciologists have determined that areas of the glacial lobe were 98 feet lower in 2004 than they were in 2000. That’s double the rate of pre-1999 thinning.

landsat satellite image

Landsat Satellite Image of Antarctica

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

Scientists have been able to piece together a picture of the Earth’s climate dating back decades to millions of years ago by analyzing a number of surrogate, or “proxy,” measures of climate such as ice cores, boreholes, tree rings, glacier lengths, pollen remains, and ocean sediments, and by studying changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

To view a Tour of Our Cryosphere (Glacial Melting) go here.

Deforestation in Bolivia, SA from 1975 to 2000

San Bernadino, CA Wildfires

Deforestation of Rondonia, Brazil from 1975 to 2009

Five-Year Average Global Temperature Anomalies for 1888,1918,1948,1978, 2008

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. Studying this data collected over many years reveal the signals of a changing climate.

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will increase during the next century unless greenhouse gas emissions decrease substantially from present levels. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations are very likely to raise the Earth’s average temperature, influence precipitation and increase in storm patterns as well as raise sea levels. The magnitude of these changes, however, is uncertain.

Digital Elevation Models

Satellite images allow scientists to remove vegetation, water and geological cover from the image data which allows them to produce the most detailed available Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of landscape topography. The creation of DEMs will revolutionize geological applications, land-use studies, soil science, and much more to better understand the global climate changes occurring around the world.

eritrea africa dem

Eritrea, Africa – IKONOS Satellite Image over 6m IKONOS Stereo DEM

Digital elevation models provide details about landscape features which in result, will allow us to clearly make out the shape of our landscape and understand how water, ice, and  soil might move across its surface, how it came to be its present shape and how rapidly the changes are occurring.

About Satellite Imaging Corporation

Satellite Imaging Corporation (SIC) delivers 3D terrain models with posting intervals from 3m to 90m. The high resolution <1m Satellite imaging mosaics and 3m-5m DEMs provide operators with the appropriate planning tools to reduce the risk of environmental impact during operations and improve on safety procedures. SIC provides a large amount of satellite remote sensing data at different spatial, spectral, and temporal resolutions from sensors such as GeoEye-1, Worldview-1, QuickBird, IKONOS, SPOT-5, LANDSAT and ASTER, by using the appropriate combination of bands to bring out the geographical and manmade features that are most pertinent to your project for detecting and monitoring changes.

Satellite Imaging Corporation combines orthorectified satellite images and digital aerial photography mosaics with extracted vector and client-supplied attribute data to create single, data-rich images for GIS and other mapping applications to achieve a multi-layered result for many types of analysis.



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