Posts Tagged ‘landsat’

polluting your backyard

No one wants pollution spewing into the air, waterways, or land near where they live. Yet with chemicals and substances that are naked to the human eye, how can you know with any certainty what is who or what is polluting your backyard? Thank heavens for the Internet and crowdsourcing. With the help of modern technology, scientists, and advocates across the world, you have access to the information you need to monitor your home habitat.

Poisoned Places- NPR and their Poisoned Places series has created an interactive map that allows the user to see how polluted their neck of the woods has become. They take their aggregate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: the Clean Air Act watch list, the Air Facility System (AFS), the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and the Risk Screening Environmental Indicators model (RSEI).

Superfund Sites Where you Live- The EPA allows you to find out if you are living next to a Superfund Site, or an area where pollutants or hazardous waste is located. The site also allows you see how the cleanups are progressing and access community resources that help educate and involve residents in the restoration of their neighborhoods.

Landsat Satellite Images- Pictures have the power to express what data sheets, charts, and tables are unable to infer. Google Landsat takes satellite images from space and through timelapse photography creates videos that chronicle urban development, climate change, and environmental destruction. Time magazine has compiled several of the most stunning pieces on their website.

Ventus: Developed by researchers at Arizona State University, Ventus is a computer game that uses crowdsourcing to track CO2 pollution from power plants across the world. Users are able to enter information as to the size, capacity, and output of each facility in a competition to win top honors from the website’s founders. In addition to identifying the new plants springing up around the globe, Ventus can be used as a tool by policy makers and scientists looking to reform energy infrastructure.

U.S. NRC – Chances are if you live near a nuclear power facility, you are already aware of your radioactive neighbor. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission offers several interactive maps that show the locations of nuclear power plants, waste storage and materials facilities.

 

 

The Earth is a complex, dynamic organism that is constantly transforming with the rhythms of the Universe.  For the past 40 years, the Landsat satellite has been capturing images of the world’s changing landscapes, covering the same area every 16 days.  The program was launched in 1972 as a joint venture between NASA and the US Geological Survey in an effort to collect “remote sensing” information.  A recent story by Treehugger explains how Landsat, in collaboration with Google’s Earth Engine, is compiling trillions of images taken over the decades to be used free of charge.

It is hoped that scientists, governments, and independent researches will be able to take advantage of the data, helping to solve problems such as deforestation, estimating biomass and carbon levels, and mapping unexplored and roadless areas.  Google and Landsat have already released a video detailing the project, as well as fascinating time-lapse pieces.  Among some of the most interesting subjects include Las Vegas’ urban explosion, the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, and drying of the Aral Sea.

Landsat has already been involved with a number of projects that aim to devise solutions to some of the globe’s most perplexing problems through the use of standardized scientific data.  From watching how nations control and utilize water resources to studying the effects of climate change on vegetation and population, our survival may just be getting a little help from someone watching from above.

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