On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse processes that result in changes to land cover and evaluate the impacts and responses resulting from these changes.
Interpreting remote sensing images to analyse land cover change
The purpose of this activity is for students to:
- understand how to interpret remote sensing imagery
- analyse satellite and remote sensing imagery to determine causes and impacts of land cover change.
Part A – What is a remote sensing image?
Students research and find answers to the following:
- What is remote sensing?
- How is the electromagnetic spectrum used by the LANDSAT?
- How do the LANDSAT satellite sensors record images?
Part B – How do you interpret remote sensing images?
- Allocate students into groups. Give each group two or three LANDSAT images of land cover change in a specific location. Ideally, these images should be printed on A3 in colour. LANDSAT imagery can be found at the NASA Landsat Image Gallery.
- In their groups, students use the resources listed below to begin interpreting the different types of land cover on the images and discover which colours represent a change between images.
- Students annotate these changes on the images. To support students in annotating, provide information or examples from the resources listed below.
- Student groups then rotate and provide feedback on other imagery in terms of the clarity and accuracy of annotations (Gallery walk).
Part C – What evidence can you collect from the imagery to determine cause and impact of land cover change?
- Using their annotations and evidence from the images, students make predictions on the causes and impacts of land cover change. They may also choose to complete further research on these locations to support their predictions.
Students may be interested in creating their own LANDSAT image. Directions for doing this are available from the NASA website.
NASA Earth Observatory – How to Interpret a Satellite Image: Five Tips and Strategies
Earth Exploration Toolbook, Annotating Change in Satellite Images