Monitoring D.C.’s Growth With Landsat

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Landsat system, a group of satellites that offer scientists a continuous view of the earth.

“The data from the satellites provide a permanent, objective record of land conditions and are routinely used to measure and monitor changes brought on by natural or anthropological events and actions,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which operates the system in partnership with NASA.

Here’s an example. Four decades ago, the system took this color infrared image of the Washington, D.C., area. “The red tones represent forests and large grassy areas. The light tones indicate cleared fields and the highly reflective impervious areas of urban development,” according to USGS:

Landsat also captured this image earlier in 2012. “A comparison of the two images illustrates the significant growth in the greater D.C. area,” the agency said:

More about the Landsat system here:

Mapping Earthquake Intensity By East Coast Zip Codes

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Early tonight the USGS released data summarizing Americans’ responses to today’s earthquake by ZIP code. The agency uses a complicated formula that’s different from the commonly known Richter magnitude scale, but basically the data show how people experienced the event.

Here’s a quick map I made in ArcGIS of the states closest to the epicenter. Darker hot colors represent greater magnitude: 

Here’s a view of DC. My ZIP code, at the top right of the DC diamond, apparently received the most dramatic responses. All I noticed at home was a toppled bobblehead doll (though that could easily be attributed to one of our cats, I suppose). 

Download data | Idea via PBS