Western Geographic Science Center

Our Science Links

Fact Sheets:

Future Scenarios of Impacts to Ecosystem Services on California Rangelands 2013-3003

What is the Economic Value of Satellite Imagery? 2014-3019

Decision-Support Systems for Natural-Hazards and Land-Management Issues 2012-3001

Climatic Changes and the Effect on Wild Sheep Habitat 2012-3060

Mapping Perennial Vegetation Cover in the Mojave Desert 2011-3077

WGSC Overview - Understanding Risk and Resilience to Natural Hazards 2011-3008

USGS Geographic Science for Public and Tribal Lands 2011-3059

Regional Planning for Nearshore Ecosystem Services 2011-3067

Using Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) Technology for Land-Surface Analysis in the Southwest 2011-3017

Future of Land Change Research at the U.S. Geological Survey 2011-3080

The Border Environmental Health Initiative: Investigation of the Transboundary Santa Cruz Watershed" 2010-3097


The Western Geographic Science Center conducts research to help communities make decisions about the interaction between people and their environment. We conduct geographic research on the environmental and societal consequences of a changing landscape.

Our projects analyze human / environmental interactions spatially and temporally. Our work is collaborative, involving many partners and linking many different natural science and social science disciplines. Our work is concentrated in the 9 states of the USGS Western Region and is conducted on local and regional scales.

Find out more about our science by following the links on the left.

Just Released!!

Remote Sensing Handbook (three volume set) by WGSC scientist, Prasad Thenkabail.

We announce with great pleasure that the Remote Sensing Handbook is now published! A comprehensive coverage of all remote sensing topics written by the best in the field. Overall, Remote Sensing Handbook has 82 Chapters, (about 2200 pages), 300+ authors, every page printed in color, and bound in hard copy.

Prasad's Book

The Remote Sensing Handbook is available from Amazon.

Editorial Reviews ...

"I have had the pleasure and honor to be involved in the field of remote sensing for nearly 50 years. To say that much has changed and been accomplished in this field over this time period is a severe understatement. It would require literally hundreds of experts on a global basis to characterize the history, scope, utility, dynamism, and future outlook for remote sensing. It is this exact feat that is accomplished through the contributions of over 300 highly respected, international researchers and practitioners in the production of Remote Sensing Handbook (three volumes). This comprehensive treatise sets a new standard for spanning and integrating discussion of remote sensing principles, data, methods, development, applications, and scientific and social context. It will be an invaluable multidisciplinary reference for many years to come."

– Dr. Thomas M. Lillesand, Emeritus Professor of Remote Sensing, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

"At a time when satellite remote sensing technologies and methods are advancing so rapidly, it is good to see an up-to-date handbook covering a broad range of remote sensing topics from different international authors, with different perspectives. The handbook will be useful for students as well as practitioners using remote sensing data. I congratulate the editor for compiling this three-volume handbook, which was clearly a major undertaking."
– Dr. Christopher Justice, Professor and Departmental Chairperson, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland College Park, USA; Program Scientist, NASA Land-cover\Land-use Change Program; 2014 individual Pecora Award winner

In the News
Discover Your State Using the USGS Online Photo Collection

Field Photo Map

MENLO PARK, Calif. — The U.S. Geological Survey announced today that it has made part of a huge national repository of geographically referenced USGS field photographs publicly available. USGS geographers developed a simple, easy-to-use mapping portal called the Land Cover Trends Field Photo Map.

The entire collection contains over 33,000 geo-referenced field photos with associated keywords describing the land-use and land-cover change processes taking place. Initially, nearly 13,000 photos from across the continental US will be available to the public, yet the online collection will grow as more processed photos become available.

“This is a treasure trove of royalty and copyright-free photography collected using consistent procedures,” said Chris Soulard, project leader and USGS research geographer. “We envision that these photos will captivate general audiences and fulfill a myriad of scientific needs.”

Sharing these unique field photos provides an excellent resource for the scientific community with potential to develop future research, such as future repeat photography projects or applications where photos may validate remote sensing classifications. Serving USGS data interactively to the public is integral to the USGS mission and provides opportunities for future scientific collaboration by communicating USGS land change research to the broader public and scientific community.

“The benefit of these photos being hosted by the USGS is equal access to all without copyright concerns and quality control,” said Jason Sherba, USGS geographer and project web-developer.

The photography was collected as part the USGS National Land Cover Trends Project, a research effort that spanned over ten years and represented one of USGS’ largest cross-center research efforts. The project employed Landsat imagery between 1973-2000 to derive rates, causes, and consequences of contemporary land use/land cover change. Photos were collected between 1999 and 2007 to serve as an aid in Landsat-derived land-use/land-cover change analyses and assessments.

The map viewer was developed to present photographs within a land use/land cover change mapping context, yet photos may also be found on the USGS Earth Explorer website.


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