NASA EO: The Global Spread of Bare Ground

Sad, but true – there is an increasingly significant loss of vegetation cover which is being replaced by bare ground. Perhaps unsurprisingly to geographers, 35% of the new bare ground is in China due to rapid urbanization and transportation developments, whereas in the US (#2 with 17% of the increase) much of the loss is due to resource extraction.

Visit the NASA EO Image of the Day page to see detailed maps and a more complete analysis.

By the way – if you are not already familiar with the NASA Earth Observatory website, do have a look. It is a fascinating examination of the world using remote sensing techniques along with insightful features and global maps.


Night Light Maps Open Up New Applications

Much has been written lately in the popular press regarding the new set of satellite images released by NASA showing Earth at Night. Few sources provide a clearer view of human settlement patterns contrasting heavily populated and industrialized areas with those less populated and/or less “plugged in”; while Europe and eastern North America gleam, much of Africa is dark despite its high population, although the Nile Valley and Delta sure stand out.

I particularly like the Earth at Night images for illustrating settlement patterns across Canada: high concentrations show up as the urban archipelago across the nation; there are regular, evenly-dispersed populations across the plainsfarmland of southwestern Ontario and, of course, the Prairies; mountain valleys in the west clearly show linear patterns as do the coastal margins of the Martimes and St. Lawrence and along with rail and road corridors across northern Ontario, while much of the rest of the Canadian Shield is dark except for randomly dispersed mining and logging settlements and First Nations’ communities.

I highly recommend spending a few minutes reading this article by the Earth Observatory, as it provides an insightful glimpse of the tech behind these wonderful images – ideal for anyone pursuing remote sensing.