Quantifying Land Changes Over Time Using Landsat

"Humans have become a geologic agent comparable to erosion and [volcanic] eruptions ..." Paul J. Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist. Using Landsat imagery, scholars create a grid showing land use type, such as urban, rural, river, etc. Then, they draw another land use grid for the same area using data from a decade later. The comparison of the two grids shows how humans have altered the environment. Lesson focuses on the impact humans have on the climate in the seventh lesson in a series of 21.


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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Adaptable
Additional Tags
Instructional Ideas
  • Continue the activity by creating a 2010 land cover map and comparing it to the earlier years
  • Virtually interview a professional land cover analyst
Classroom Considerations
  • Students should know how to interpret maps and aerial photographs, the meaning of wavelengths of light, and understand the electromagnetic spectrum
  • The seventh lesson focuses on the impact humans have on the climate which is part of a series of 21 related resources
  • Includes classroom management tips specific to the implementation of the lesson
  • Designed for the National Science Education Standards, National Education Technology Standards, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Education Standards, Climate Literacy Principles, and Energy Literacy Principles
  • Offers extension ideas that are realistic and challenging 
  • None