Landsat Applications to Agricultural and Urban Feature Analysis

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Comparison of Garden City, KS 1984 and 2010

City, NJ 1984. Hypersup classification image of 1984 Landsat 4-5 imagery of agricultural uses near Garden City, KS.

City, NJ 1984. Hypersup classification image of 2010 Landsat 5 imagery of agricultural uses near Garden City, KS.

The red circles denote fields with center pivot irrigation systems. At first glance, these images have a similar amount of red. Upon further investigation, you can see more defined circles in the 2010 image and more specifically, through northern portions of the image. For a rough estimate of the amount of increase in center pivot irrigation systems used through this area, we can split the images in half between North and South (approximately 8000 meters from the bottom of the image) There are approximately 53 defined circles in the 2010 image, compared to 12 in the 1984 image. Over the past 25 years, the use of center pivot irrigation has quadrupled throughout this area.

Comparison of Albuquerque, NM, LANDSAT 4-5TM 1985 and 2010

Albuquerque, NM 1985 False color composite of 1985 Landsat 4-5 imagery of Albuquerque, NM and surrounding area.

Albuquerque, NM 2010 False color composite of 2010 Landsat 5 imagery of Albuquerque, NM and surrounding area.

These two images were acquired in 1985 and 2010. These images are a composite of LANDSAT bands 3, 4, and 5. Desert and areas of scarce vegetation are depicted in pink-red tones. Urban and man made features such as concrete roads and buildings show up in more reflective white tones. The grid of city streets and populated areas with trees, grass, and "urban vegetation" in Albuquerque, NM can be seen nestled to the East of the Rio Grande River and to the West of the Sandia Mountains. Asphalt streets show up in darker colors while populated areas are depicted in dark green. Active vegetation areas are depicted in bright green.

When discussing the urbanization of this area, it's important to first have an understanding of the basic geography of the land. Understanding the geography will help us pin point areas of urban growth in comparison to permanent geological features.

To start, the Sandia Mountains (highest peak is 10,500ft MSL) are to the East of the scene and they are oriented north - south. The first area of urban growth that we'll look at is immediately to the West of the Sandia Mountains and North of the city. Today, this area is called the "Far Northeast Heights". In the 1984 image, a grid of streets is apparent through here. However, the pink-red tones indicate a desert area. This area is for the most part, undeveloped. In the 2010 image, we see significant growth in the form of more vegetation and population through the Far Northeast Heights. This section of town has grown as far north and east as possible. Land cannot be developed on the Mountain and the Sandia Indian Reservation is immediately to the north, which also prohibits city development. As a result, urban growth within the past decade has been forced to sprawl West from Albuquerque.

The second area we will consider is called, "Rio Rancho". This is the populated area to the far northwest of the city center. It's clear that in 1984 this area had a grid of city streets (dirt roads) marked out for development. In the 2010 image you can see just how much of this area has been developed. Rio Rancho is the fastest growing city in New Mexico ( with a 53% increase in population over the past ten years.

The third area to discuss is the, "West Side" of Albuquerque. This area is west of the Rio Grande river and south of Rio Rancho. Important geological features in this area are the Albuquerque volcanoes which formed and were active approximately 100,000 years ago. The lava flow from these eruptions ended approximately 5 miles East of the volcanoes (approx 5 miles West of the Rio Grande river) and is evident in both images by the black boundary. The west side of Albuquerque has sprawled to this boundary. The difference in populated area is quite noticeable between the two images.

Comparison of Atlanta, GA using Idrisi's HYPERUSP and RECLASS - 1985 and 2010

Atlanta, GA 1985 Hypersup classification image of 1985 Landsat 4-5 imagery of metropolitan Atlanta, GA.

Atlanta, GA 2010 Hypersup classification image of 2010 Landsat 5 imagery of metropolitan Atlanta, GA.

This is an image comparison of Atlanta, GA between 1985 and 2010. The "HYPERUSP" function was used, along with "RECLASS" in Indrisi. The urban sprawl in all directions is apparent by the increase in red returns. This approach provides a good first look at urban sprawl in Atlanta, GA. Further details can be resolved in other types of images such as Landsat composites with ISOCLUSTER processing.

For example, the following LANDSAT 5 image depicts four specific classes of features: urban development, suburban development, undeveloped, and water. A fantastic application of this type of processing is to compare these images with previous years. A quantitive result can be determined by classifying and measuring the changes in area of each feature.

Atlanta, GA 2010 Land Uses Land cover map of the Atlanta, GA area produced using Idrisi Taiga module ISOCLUST with Landsat 5 imagery from Sept. 29, 2010.

Class Project for ES771 - Remote Sensing
Emporia State University
Brenda Zabriskie, Mary Reardon, Jay Doolittle
December 09, 2010