Sponsored Links:

Landsat 8 'Remote Sensing' Journal Special Issue: Free Artcile Access

The ‎Landsat‬ 8 'Remote Sensing' Journal Special issue is now available.

A trio of Landsat calibration scientists—Brian Markham, Jim Storey, and Ron Morfitt—have guest-edited a new Landsat 8 Special Issue of the journal Remote Sensing.

From the editors:
Landsat 8 (formerly LDCM) was launched on February 11, 2013. There are two new sensors on Landsat 8: the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). Unlike historically used whisk broom scanners (as on the ETM+ sensor on Landsat 7), these new sensors are examples of push broom technology. In addition to having new instruments that have their individual characteristics and calibrations, the change in sensor technology produces significant differences in data characteristics and quality. This Special Issue aims to provide the user community with a good understanding of the radiometric and geometric properties of the Landsat 8 instruments and their data. This understanding will enable the community to effectively use the data in conjunction with data from other earlier Landsat sensors.

View 18 open access papers on topics such as:

OLI Design
OLI Spectral Characterization
OLI Absolute Radiometric Calibration and Traceability
OLI Radiometric Characterization
OLI Radiometric Cross calibration
OLI Spatial Performance Characterization
OLI Geometric Characterization and Calibration
TIRS Design
TIRS Spectral Characterization
TIRS Absolute Radiometric Calibration and Traceability
TIRS Radiometric Characterization
TIRS Radiometric Cross calibration
TIRS Spatial Performance Characterization
TIRS Geometric Characterization and Calibration
Landsat 8 integrated data product geometric performance
Landsat 8 Image Assessment System

Access the special issue here.

SMAP Soil Moisture Mapping Satellite Launched

Press Release. NASA successfully launched its first Earth satellite designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture hidden just beneath our feet.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, a mission with broad applications for science and society, lifted off at 6:22 a.m. PST (9:22 a.m. EST) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

About 57 minutes after liftoff, SMAP separated from the rocket's second stage into an initial 411- by 425-mile (661- by 685-kilometer) orbit. After a series of activation procedures, the spacecraft established communications with ground controllers and deployed its solar array. Initial telemetry shows the spacecraft is in excellent health.

SMAP now begins a three-year mission that will figuratively scratch below Earth's surface to expand our understanding of a key component of the Earth system that links the water, energy and carbon cycles driving our living planet. SMAP’s combined radar and radiometer instruments will peer into the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil, through clouds and moderate vegetation cover, day and night, to produce the highest-resolution, most accurate soil moisture maps ever obtained from space.

The mission will help improve climate and weather forecasts and allow scientists to monitor droughts and better predict flooding caused by severe rainfall or snowmelt -- information that can save lives and property. In addition, since plant growth depends on the amount of water in the soil, SMAP data will allow nations to better forecast crop yields and assist in global famine early-warning systems.

"The launch of SMAP completes an ambitious 11-month period for NASA that has seen the launch of five new Earth-observing space missions to help us better understand our changing planet," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Scientists and policymakers will use SMAP data to track water movement around our planet and make more informed decisions in critical areas like agriculture and water resources."

SMAP also will detect whether the ground is frozen or thawed. Detecting variations in the timing of spring thaw and changes in the length of the growing season will help scientists more accurately account for how much carbon plants are removing from Earth's atmosphere each year.

"The next few years will be especially exciting for Earth science thanks to measurements from SMAP and our other new missions," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Each mission measures key variables that affect Earth’s environment. SMAP will provide new insights into the global water, energy, and carbon cycles. Combining data from all our orbiting missions will give us a much better understanding of how the Earth system works."

SMAP will orbit Earth from pole to pole every 98.5 minutes, repeating the same ground track every eight days. Its 620-mile (1,000-kilometer) measurement swath allows SMAP to cover Earth’s entire equatorial regions every three days and higher latitudes every two days. The mission will map global soil moisture with about 5.6-mile (9-kilometer) resolution.

"SMAP will improve the daily lives of people around the world,” said Simon Yueh, SMAP project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "Soil moisture data from SMAP has the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of short-term weather forecasts and reduce the uncertainty of long-term projections of how climate change will impact Earth's water cycle.”

The SMAP team is engaged with many organizations and individuals that see immediate uses for the satellite’s data. Through workshops and tutorials, the SMAP Applications Working Group is collaborating with 45 “early adopters” to test and integrate the mission's data products into many different applications. Early adopters include weather forecasters from several nations, as well as researchers and planners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations World Food Programme.

During the next 90 days, SMAP and its ground system will be commissioned to ensure they are fully functional and are ready to begin routine science data collection. A key milestone will be the deployment of the spacecraft’s instrument boom and 20-foot- (6-meter)-diameter reflector antenna. The observatory will be maneuvered to its final 426-mile (685-kilometer), near-polar operational orbit, and the antenna will spin up to 14.6 revolutions per minute.

SMAP science operations will then begin, and SMAP data will be calibrated and validated. The first release of SMAP soil moisture data products is expected within nine months. Fully validated science data are expected to be released within 15 months.

SMAP is managed for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington by JPL, with instrument hardware and science contributions made by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. JPL built the spacecraft and is responsible for project management, system engineering, radar instrumentation, mission operations and the ground data system. Goddard is responsible for the radiometer instrument and science data products. Both centers collaborate on science data processing and delivery to the Alaska Satellite Facility, in Fairbanks, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida was responsible for launch management. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about SMAP, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap

Join The Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW) 2015

Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW)
March 24-26, 2015
Las Cruces, New Mexico
New Mexico State University

The annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW), initiated in 2002 by the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Services Division, brings together a diverse group of climate researchers, climate product producers, and climate information users to share developments in research and applications of climate predictions for societal decision-making. A unique planning team, consisting of several NOAA climate services partners, organizes and hosts CPASW at a different location each year to ensure varying climate application focuses, and both regional and national perspectives.

2015 CPASW
The 13th Annual CPASW will bring together climate researchers, information producers, and users to share developments in research and applications of climate predictions for societal decision-making. The 2015 CPASW will be hosted by the New Mexico State University and the USDA Southwest Climate Hub and co-hosted by the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Services Division. Please see full list of organizers as several agencies help to organize the workshop logistics and agenda. From March 24-26, 2015, the 13th Annual CPASW will convene in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at the New Mexico State University, with a workshop theme of "Climate and Drought Information for Food Resilience, Agriculture, and Water Resources." This theme will integrate broad national, international, and global aspects of climate and drought information applications in various decisions related to food resilience including agriculture, ranching, food processing, water availability and water rights, among others. Climate is a cross-cutting concern for all of these areas and provides a link for critical decisions in building resilient communities such as planning, allocating resources, sustaining development and management, as well as preserving livestock, cropland, and rangelands. Special emphasis will be given to climate and drought information systems in support of the President's Climate Action Plan and the White House Climate Data Initiative, including the Climate Resilience Toolkit. Additionally, the 2015 CPASW will foster the coordination of climate services provided by government agencies, research institutions, and private enterprises, as well as build partnerships with professional societies to expand and sustain climate services development.

The Workshop format will include a combination of symposium-style sessions and breakout discussions that address the workshop theme. We invite abstracts that address the use of climate data, monitoring, predictions and projections in all of the focus areas listed above. We also invite papers on specific decisions and challenges associated with using seasonal climate predictions; heat, drought, and other climatic extreme products; and best practices in climate information use and communication.

Who Should Attend the 13th Annual CPASW:

    Agriculture, Rangeland, Ecological and Water Management Specialists
    Climate and Agro-weather data providers
    International organizations
    Applied climatologists and scientists who use climate information
    Decision-makers who utilize climate predictions, products, and services
    Developers and providers of climate data, forecasts, applications, and tools
    Climate extension specialists and communicators of climate information
    Social Scientists who work with climate information users and stakeholders

William T. Pecora Award Winners 2014 Announced

On Tuesday afternoon, at the Pecora 19 conference in Denver, Colorado, the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA presented a group Pecora Award to The Landsat 8 Team.

This group award recognizes a team that has made major breakthroughs in remote sensing science or technology that impact the user community.

The Landsat 8 Team—including members from NASA, USGS, and the aerospace industry—is being recognized for its role in developing, building, launching, and operating the highly successful Landsat 8 satellite. Landsat 8 carries on the more than four decade Landsat data record using advanced new sensors. Its data collections contribute towards our evolving understanding of Earth’s land surface and coastal regions.

The 2014 individual Pecora Award was presented to Christopher Justice. Dr. Justice, a leading remote sensing scientist, has served as a remote sensing advisor, educator, and research director. His work has advanced the field of remote sensing science while influencing and encouraging many of the field’s current innovators.

The William T. Pecora Award was established in 1974 to honor Pecora. Sponsored jointly by the Department of the Interior and NASA, it is presented annually to individuals or groups that make outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing.


Free NASA Forum on Changing Landscape: Observations from Space This Weekend

This Saturday, November 8, 2014, a NASA Climate Change Forum is being held at Howard Community College in Maryland. The forum will focus on urban, agricultural, and forest changes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that result from development and climate change. The forum takes place tomorrow from from 9 a.m. to noon in the HCC’s Health Sciences Building.

Talks by Molly Brown (NASA) on food security, Peter Claggett (USGS) on the Chesapeake Bay, and Joseph Sexton (UMD) on land use change will be featured along with a panel Q&A, and related exhibits.

Register for this free event at http://howardcc.edu/NASAforum

Open Foris: The Open Source Software Tools To Monitor, Improve State of World's Forests

Open Foris: Open Source Software Tools Launched. Press Release. FAO has launched free software tools that it hopes will improve the way many developing nations monitor the state of their forests to tackle deforestation and climate change.

The tools are designed to assist countries through the entire lifecycle of a forest inventory - from assessment, design and field data collection to analysis and reporting. The governments of Finland and Germany have supported the development of the software called Open Foris.

Global knowledge sharing platform
The Forestry Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization helps nations manage their forests in a sustainable way. Accurate information about forests is crucial for governments to manage their natural resources sustainably, but nearly 80 percent of developing countries have difficulty obtaining and using basic information about their forest resources.

At the same time, deforestation and forest degradation - largely taking place in developing countries - are among the largest sources of carbon emissions globally caused by humans.

"Many countries simply do not have a full picture of what is happening in their forests, and without that knowledge it is hard to develop effective forest policies to combat deforestation and forest degradation or to advance national climate change strategies," Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General for Forestry, explained.

"We hope that Open Foris will be a game changer, as it is the first comprehensive open source tool that will not only guide the countries through the whole process of data collection and analysis but will also encourage and facilitate open knowledge sharing in an innovative way. Increased transparency will help the policy makers obtain the information they need to make informed decisions," he added.

The new FAO tools also simplify the complex process of transforming raw data such as tree measurements and satellite imagery into valuable information in the form of interactive web pages with statistics, graphs, maps and reports.

In addition, the software includes built-in tools to help countries meet international reporting requirements, for example in the context of REDD+ activities related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and increasing the carbon stock in forests.

Piloting in more than 10 countries
Released at the 2014 International Union of Forest Research Organizations' World Congress in Salt Lake City, Open Foris tools are already being successfully tested in more than 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For example, earlier this year Ecuador and Tanzania completed their first national forest inventories with the help of Open Foris tools, and a number of experts from other countries, such as Argentina, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea and Uruguay have recently received training to use different components of the software.

Viet Nam carries out a national forest inventory every five years, and for the first time has been piloting Open Foris in one region after adapting the open source code to use the software in Vietnamese.

Forest rangers collect information on canopy cover and the number, size, species and quality of trees as well as the use of forest resources by local populations before entering the data into Open Foris software back at the office.

"It enables us to calculate variables and changes to the forest and tree resources within a certain period, as well as changes to other environmental values of the forests such as carbon pools, biodiversity and non-timber forest products," said Ho Manh Tuong of Viet Nam'sForest Inventory and Planning Institute. "Through the program, the complete national forest stock can be assessed."

The inventory will soon become even more efficient when rangers start using an Open Foris tool that enables them to enter data directly with their smartphones or tablets, eliminating the need to input information collected on paper forms.

Open Foris tools in detail
Collect EarthWorks with Google Earth for a pre-assessment of forest resources
Collect DesktopHelps design a survey specifying all the types of data to be collected and produces a data entry interface
Collect MobileEnables data entry for hand-held devices and tablets during collection in the field
CalcAnalyses data and helps create results visualization

Geospatial Toolkit
Processes remote sensing and other geospatial data

Free forestry software in the battle against climate change

David Morales, a Forestry Officer with FAO in Rome, explains more about why these new tools are necessary

Open Foris tools
FAO Forest Monitoring and Assessment
Finland-FAO Forestry Programme

Capacity Building for REDD+


@FAOForestry - The Forestry Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization helps nations manage their forests in a sustainable way.

News on humanitarian response to disasters, emergencies and food security crises:


FAO YouTube Channel:

Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts - to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Our three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

FAO creates and shares critical information about food, agriculture and natural resources in the form of global public goods. But this is not a one-way flow. We play a connector role, through identifying and working with different partners with established expertise, and facilitating a dialogue between those who have the knowledge and those who need it. By turning knowledge into action, FAO links the field to national, regional and global initiatives in a mutually reinforcing cycle. By joining forces, we facilitate partnerships for food and nutrition security, agriculture and rural development between governments, development partners, civil society and the private sector.

An intergovernmental organization, FAO has 194 Member Nations, two associate members and one member organization, the European Union. Headquartered in Rome, Italy, FAO is present in over 130 countries. http://www.fao.org


FAO Media Office
(+39) 06 570 53625

George Kourous
Media Relations (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 53168
(+39) 348 141 6802

Irina Utkina
Media Relations (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 52542

Featured Video

The Penn State Public Broadcasting launched the Geospatial Revolution Project, an integrated public media and outreach initiative about the impact of digital mapping. Watch two of the four high-definition video episodes that have already been released. You can visit the project via: geospatialrevolution.psu.edu.

More From GIS Education

Visit some of our previous posts below. Also, if you want to submit press releases and announcements related to GIS and Remote Sensing, visit this link for the info.

We have a FREE mobile app at the OVI store. Get the latest from Education GIS through your smartphones. Free app download!

You may also search the blog for other GIS and RS related articles. We have hundreds of previous posts, most likely we have what you need.

Please sign up for the free email subscription.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Browse More Posts:

Friends of GIS Education

Asia Pacific Universities

Europe Universities

Study GIS: Europe

Posted by GIS Talk

Middle East Universities

Study GIS: Middle East

Posted by GIS Talk

The Americas

Study GIS: Americas

Posted by GIS Talk

Follow Us On Twitter and Facebook

GIS on Twitter
GIS on Facebook

GIS in Education Mobile App

GIS Education Visitors