Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Earth Observation Lab

Landsat Science Team

Project period: 2012-2017

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM provides a “backbone activity” in Earth observation. The European Sentinel missions, specifically Sentinel-2, and the German Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) will provide great synergies with Landsat-8 and 40 years of archived Landsat data. There are huge opportunities for synergies across sensors and scales in order to achieve better and quasi-continuous high-resolution earth observation products across time and space. At the same time, there is an urgent need to make use of these opportunities, if we wish to move global change research based on Landsat data to the next level. Our research agenda as part of the Landsat Science Team combines aspects of (1) data characterization, (2) product generation and (3) applications. Our approach seeks to maximize synergies between the exceptional depth of the Landsat archive and future European satellite missions for advancing core land system science topics. Our geographic foci include Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Southeast Asia, and South America.

Satellite image


Images: An example of opportunities for land change assessments that have become feasible with the opening of the Landsat archive (scale of both figures is 1:500,000). The top figure shows a subsection of a Landsat image composite, approximating mid-summer phenology during the year 2000. About 1,500 images were supplied to the compositing algorithm to produce a cloud free image composite. The region depicted shows the border region between Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine. In this false color band combination (RGB = nIR, swIR, red) Considerable differences in land use patterns are clearly discernible, for example the very small size of agricultural plots in Poland and much larger field sizes in Ukraine. Open soils appear blue, cropped fields reddish, deciduous forests appear yellow-orange, coniferous forests dark brown; grasslands such as pastures, fallow lands or hayfields appear cyan-turquoise.

The bottom change map was derived by analyzing several regional image composites, spectral-temporal metrics and other datasets derived from the Landsat archive. The change map depicts the major changes in agriculture and forest cover. Here yellowish colors indicate areas where cropland use was abandoned between 1985 and 2000 (light yellow) and 2000 to 2010 (darker yellow). Magenta tones point to pixels where grassland areas where converted to cropland between 1985 and 2000 (light magenta) or formerly abandoned cropland was recultivated between 2000 and 2010 (darker magenta).

Lab members and other research staff involved
Website Landsat Science Team