2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (2529 August 2013)

Paper No. 42-3
Presentation Time: 11:50 AM

LANDSAT—MONITORING OUR EARTH’S CONDITION FOR OVER 40 YEARS


CECERE, Thomas, Land Remote Sensing International Liaison, Land Remote Sensing Program, Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston, VA 20192, tcecere@usgs.gov
In 1966, the Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, issued a press release stating that, “the time is now right and urgent to apply space technology towards the solution of many pressing natural resource problems being compounded by population and industrial growth”. Working with the USGS and NASA, this vision was transformed into the Landsat mission, which continues to this day. The first Landsat satellite was launched in 1972 and the latest in the series, Landsat 8, was launched in February 2013. Landsat 8 builds upon the success of the previous Landsat missions, improving the quality and the sensitivity of the measurements.

Related to environmental health, Landsat data have been used to characterize land use and changes to the landscape at a scale (mostly 30m ground sample distance) that is relevant to decisions made by resource managers. In some regions of the world, Landsat may provide one of the few opportunities for scientists to better understand connections to changes in land use since 1972, whether it is the expansion of settlements, changing land use patterns, ecological connectivity, or observing changes in human practices such as irrigation. Landsat provides valuable pieces of information that can be used to better understand observations seen on the ground. In some cases, the observation of events such as floods can help predict the timing and probable locations of certain disease outbreaks.

One of the missions of the USGS Land Remote Sensing Program is to better understand the requirements of the science community, especially as these requirements relate to societal benefits such as human health. The USGS is taking a lead role in better understanding land remote sensing requirements and taking steps to improve future systems, acquisitions and partnerships to better address these needs.

This talk will focus on how Landsat data have been utilized to help address environmental health issues, the improvements that Landsat 8 brings to the mission, and the requirements process that will lead to better addressing scientific needs.