Quantifying Changes in the Land Over TIme

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Students learn to identify kinds of land cover (e.g., roads, fields, urban areas, and lakes) in Landsat satellite images. They decide which land cover types allow the passage of water into the soil (are pervious) and which types do not allow it (are impervious). They consider some effects of increasing impervious surface area on ecosystem health. Students then make land cover maps using two Landsat satellite images taken about a decade apart. They quantify the change of land cover from pervious to impervious surface during that time period. They make predictive maps of what they think the nature and extent of land cover change in the area will be in the year 2025, and speculate about the consequences for the availability of water for people and ecosystems. Students justify their predictive maps and their thoughts about the consequences of change in writing. This activity uses Landsat images of Phoenix, Arizona. Additional resources are available to permit teachers to download images of their regions through the USGS Web site provided in the resource section.

Tags: earth, land use, ecosystem, remote sensing, geography, impervious, land cover, population, landsat, urban development

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NASA Approved Materials

Grade Level7 - 10
Media TypeLesson Plan in PDF
File Size
Topics Biology
Earth Science
Environmental Science
Problem Solving
Project-Based Learning
{standards_math} Quantifying Changes in the Land Over TIme:

{standards_geo} Quantifying Changes in the Land Over TIme:

{standards_tech} Quantifying Changes in the Land Over TIme:

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