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 instructional activity in a series of 21.  

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Adaptable
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