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Eyes on Earth is a podcast on remote sensing, Earth observation, land change and science, brought to you by the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

Click the "Multimedia" tab above to access each episode. Click here to subscribe though our RSS feed.

 

Eyes on Earth Episode 29 - Tracking Landscape Change with LCMAP

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Jesslyn Brown (top) and Jennifer Rover with graphic for USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"

Jesslyn Brown (top) and Jennifer Rover

Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey took a bold step toward documenting change across the landscape with the launch of the first Landsat satellite in 1972. Since then, it’s collected nearly five decades of imagery. But it takes more than just imagery to understand change. It takes time, effort—and serious computing horsepower. The USGS Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) initiative aims to use the full Landsat record to track change in long-term landscape conditions. In this episode, we hear about LCMAP and what its 33-year product suite can tell us about change in the U.S.

Guests: Jesslyn Brown and Jennifer Rover, Research Geographers, USGS EROS

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: July 13, 2020

More on LCMAP

Eyes on Earth Episode 28 - Peer Reviews

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Marvin Bauer

Summary: Remote sensing is not an especially venerable scientific discipline, at least in comparison to fields like biology, chemistry or medicine. From its beginnings with aerial photography in the 1920s through the initial stages of satellite-based land imaging in the early 1970s, few peer-reviewed publications were available for scientists to share their ideas and improve their methods. The rise of rigorous peer review in the 1970s through publications like Remote Sensing of Environment (RSE) helped advance the discipline, with leaders such as RSE’s longtime editor Marvin Bauer serving as guides and gatekeepers as space-based remote sensing moved from emergent technology to a critical component of our understanding of Earth.

Guests: Marv Bauer, Editor Emeritus, Remote Sensing of Environment

Host: Steve Young

Producer: John Hult

Release date: June 29, 2020

More on Marvin Bauer, peer reviews and remote sensing

Eyes on Earth Episode 27 – Australian Wildfires

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Color image of Australian wildfire with the graphic for the podcast "Eyes on Earth"

Simon Oliver (top) and Steve Labahn

Summary: The continent of Australia experienced some of the most devastating wildfires in its history in late 2019 and early 2020. Remote sensing scientists in Australia, who collaborate closely with EROS, relied on satellites like Landsat to help assess and monitor the damage. In this episode, we hear from one of our Australian partners on the value of satellite imagery before, during, and after a wildfire, and we explore how cross-hemisphere partnerships improve our understanding of disasters around the globe.

Guests: Simon Oliver, Geoscience Australia, Steve Labahn, USGS

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: June 15, 2020

More on Australia, wildfires, and international partnerships

 

Eyes on Earth Episode 26 – Satellite Constellations

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Jim Lacasse with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth

Jim Lacasse

Summary: Between them, Landsats 7 and 8 image the entire land surface of Earth every eight days. The USGS orbiters are just two of many Earth observing satellites flying at the same altitude and collecting data at the same time of day. Other “constellations” of satellites gather other kinds of data, traveling one after the other like cars on a train to collect information that can be used independently or combined to produce models that help us understand the health and well-being of the planet. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we learn about those satellites, the value they provide, and how their operators work together to insure the smooth and safe collection of scientific information.

Guests: Jim Lacasse, USGS

Host: Steve Young

Producer: John Hult

Release date: June 1, 2020

More on Landsat and satellite constellations

Eyes on Earth Episode 25 - Rising Seas

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Dean Gesch with graphic for Eyes on Earth podcast

Dean Gesch

Summary: Sea levels are rising globally. In some places, it is rising more than others, threatening communities and people as storm surges reach further inland and inundate more land. Landsat satellites used with other Earth-observing platforms enable EROS scientists to model the elevation of coastal shores, giving decision makers valuable information to use in preparing for the rising seas. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk to one of the scientists about the utility of EROS’ elevation models.

Guests: Dean Gesch, USGS

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: May 18, 2020

More on coastal elevation and remote sensing

Eyes on Earth Episode 24 - Wildfire Risk to Communities

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Color photo of a fire and Frank Fay with the Eyes on Earth podcast logo

Frank Fay

Summary: The U.S. has plenty of data on wildfire risk. There are local and regional risk assessments, complex datasets like LANDFIRE and tracking tools like the EROS Fire Danger Monitor, as well as a host of resources and research projects devoted to the subject. But much of that information is steeped in the language of fire science and difficult to comprehend for those outside it. In this episode, we hear from Frank Fay of the USDA Forest Service, who describes a new website that represents the first national tool on wildfire risk designed with communities and the general public in mind. The tool was built with data from the LANDFIRE program and numerous other sources, and offers a window into fire risk for every community in the U.S.

Guests: Frank Fay, USDA Forest Service

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: May 4, 2020

More on wildfire risk

 

Eyes on Earth Episode 23 – Ecosystem Monitoring

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Color photo of Melanie Vanderhoof

Dr. Melanie Vanderhoof

Landsat satellites offer a wealth of information to scientists studying ecosystem health and recovery. Data products derived from Landsat open even more areas of inquiry. Landsat Burned Area products, for example, can help researchers identify previously unknown fires that took place from 1984 through the present. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk to one of the scientists behind that product about Landsat’s role in monitoring ecosystem health and recovery.

Guests: Dr. Melanie Vanderhoof, USGS

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: April 20, 2020

More on Landsat Level-3 products and ecosystem monitoring

 

 

Eyes on Earth Episode 22 - Meet the Mendenhall Fellow

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Dr. Heather Tollerud with graphic for USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth

Dr. Heather Tollerud

Summary: The Mendenhall Program offers a range of two-year post-doctoral research fellowships within the U.S. Geological Survey. Heather Tollerud took advantage of the program in 2015 to study drought and land cover at the USGS EROS Center, and has since become a key player in the Center’s innovative Land Change Monitoring, Assessment and Projection (LCMAP) initiative. In this episode, we hear how Dr. Tollerud went from studying the harsh playas of northwestern Nevada to leading research and development for a national-scale project at the USGS. We also hear about a current Mendenhall fellowship opportunity that’s seeking a postdoctoral researcher to join the LCMAP team.

Guests: Heather Tollerud, Research Physical Scientist, USGS EROS

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: April 14, 2020

More on LCMAP and the Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program

 

Eyes on Earth Episode 21 - Forests of Ghana

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Photo of Francis Dwomoh with graphic for USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"

Francis Dwomoh

Summary: In the West African nation of Ghana, tropical forests are more than landscape. They are woven into language, custom, and culture. They are also the source of timber for home heating and industry, as well as barriers to agricultural production. Those are just a few of the reasons why deforestation has come alongside the nation’s rapid population growth. In this episode, an EROS scientist and Ghana native talks about how Landsat satellites help track deforestation and offer guidance on forest regrowth.

Guests: Francis Dwomoh, EROS contractor and remote sensing scientist

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: April 6, 2020

More on Remote Sensing and Deforestation

 

Eyes on Earth Episode 20 – Mapping Alaska’s Permafrost

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Bruce Wylie with graphic for USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth

Bruce Wylie

Summary: The Arctic is changing at a more rapid rate than the rest of the planet. Some of the most significant changes are tied to the thawing of near-surface permafrost, the layers of frozen soil containing vast stocks of stored carbon. Scientists at EROS have used remote sensing tools to map the extent of near-surface permafrost in Alaska, offering a baseline for further research as change continues to ripple through the state.

Guests: Bruce Wylie, Research Physical Scientist at the USGS EROS Center; Neal Pastick, scientist and contractor to the USGS EROS Center

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: March 23, 2020

More on Remote Sensing and Permafrost

 

 

Episode 19 – 100 Million Downloads

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Color image of satellite image and two guests of the USGS EROS Eyes on Earth podcast

Image of 100 Millionth Landsat scene downloaded from the USGS EROS archive Also pictured are Barb Ryan (above) and Kristi Kline 

Summary: For decades, each Landsat image had a price tag – a hefty one at times, ranging from $400 to as much as $4,000. That all changed in 2008 with the enactment of an open data policy that made the entire Landsat archive available for download at no cost to the user. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk with one of the architects of that policy, as well as an EROS data manager who saw the post-2008 spike in Landsat data use in real time. The 100 millionth Landsat scene was recently downloaded from the EROS archive, marking a major milestone for a policy shift that opened the door to previously impossible wide-scale research projects and generated billions of dollars in returns worldwide.

Guests: Barb Ryan, former Secretariat-Director for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and former Associate Director of Geography for USGS; Kristi Kline, Project Manager for the Landsat Archive.

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: March 13, 2020

More on 100 Million Downloads

 

Episode 18 – Landsat's International Partners

Color image of scientists with graphic for USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"

From top, Chung Hum Yu, Vincent Rooke, Paida Mangara.

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Summary: Across the planet, in rural settings on uncluttered landscapes, there are satellite antennas receiving data directly from Landsat satellites as they pass 438 miles overhead at more than 17,000 miles per hour. It happens multiple times a day, in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Korea, and elsewhere. The International Cooperators network has 20 ground stations in 14 countries. In this episode, we hear from three of our international partners on the value satellite data brings to their countries.

Guests: Vincent Rooke, Geosciences Australia; Chung Hum Yu, National Disaster Management Research Institute of South Korea; Dr. Paida Mangara, School for Geography, Archeology and Environmental Studies, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: March 9, 2020

More on International Cooperators

 

Episode 17 – Evapotranspiration

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Color photo of Gabriel Senay with graphic for USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth

Gabriel Senay

Summary: It’s easy enough to measure rainfall, and nearly as easy to measure streamflow. Calculating the efficiency of water use through the metric of evapotranspiration (ET) – evaporation off the Earth’s surface and transpiration from the leaves of plants – is a far trickier proposal. In this episode, we hear how scientists use satellites like Landsat to measure ET, and how those measurements help guide water management decisions in the U.S. and around the world.

Guests: Gabriel Senay, Research Physical Scientist, EROS

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: Feb. 24, 2020

More on Evapotranspiration

 

 

 

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Terry Sohl - Eyes on Earth podcast

Terry Sohl

Episode 16 – Predictive Modeling

Summary: Land cover and land use across the United States are the culmination of a complex web of interwoven factors: Climate, landscape types, and economic factors among them. Remotely-sensed data from satellites like Landsat and a variety of other sources are useful for documenting and monitoring land cover and land use. When used alongside other data sources, however, remote sensing data can offer a glimpse at future land use under a range of scenarios.

Guests: Terry Sohl, Research Physical Scientist, EROS

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Feb. 10, 2020

More on Land Cover Projections

 

                                                                                                                                                                                       

Color photo of Birgit Peterson with USGS EROS "Eyes on Earth" podcast graphic

EROS Geographer and Senior Scientist Birgit Peterson

Episode 15 – Burn Severity Mapping

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Summary: Scientists at EROS have spent years refining their approach to mapping burn severity using remotely-sensed data from satellites like Landsat, but Landsat comes with limitations. Landsat data cannot see the vegetation below a thick tree canopy, for example. In this episode, we learn about a project in South Dakota’s Black Hills that seeks to leverage 3D data gathered using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to improve burn mapping and help land managers.

Guests: Birgit Peterson, Geographer and Senior Scientist, EROS; Gail Schmidt, Software Engineer, EROS contractor

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Jan. 27, 2020

More on Burn Severity

 

Episode 14 – Space Debris

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Color photo of Doug Daniels with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"

Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation at USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

Summary: Sixty years of manned and unmanned space flight have left a cosmic junkyard circling the planet. In 2017, the U.S. government reported that it logged 308,984 close calls with space junk and issued 655 emergency-reportable alerts to satellite operators. In this episode, we learn about that debris, its potential dangers, and how Landsat flight operators keep their satellites out of harm’s way.

Guest: Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Jan. 13, 2020

More on Space Junk

 

 

 

 

Color photo of geographer Roger Auch with "Eyes on Earth" podcast graphic

Roger Auch

Episode 13 – Land Use

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Summary: Scientists at EROS use tools like Landsat to produce land cover maps, which tell us if landscapes are rural or urban, cropped or forested, wetland or shrubland. Those maps help scientists at EROS and around the U.S. study the impact of changes in land use on not just landscapes, but on ecosystems, patterns of resource use, wildlife habitat, and much more. In this episode, we learn about the basics of land use and land cover study research from Geographer Roger Auch.

Guest: Roger Auch, Research Geographer

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Dec. 30, 2019

More on Poster Session topics

 

Color photo of Jesslyn Brown with USGS EROS Eyes on Earth graphic

USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Research Physical Scientist Jesslyn Brown

Episode 12 – Plant Health via Satellite (NDVI)

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Summary: A farmer at the foot of a corn stalk can tell how well the plant is faring. That same farmer might survey his entire field for crop health. But assessing the health of crops or forests at regional, national, and international scales requires remote sensing, most often via satellite. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk to Jesslyn Brown about the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a tool that uses the broader electromagnetic spectrum to estimate plant health.

Guests: Jesslyn Brown, Research Physical Scientist

Host: John Hult

Producers: John Hult

Release date: Dec. 16, 2019

More on Poster Session topics

 

 

Color photo of EROS Fall Poster Session

USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Fall Poster Session.

Episode 11 – EROS Fall Poster Session

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Summary: Each fall, EROS invites its staff scientists and area graduate students to visit for a noontime poster session. The poster sessions offer a change for those researchers to present their results to their peers and get feedback from their fellow scientists. For this episode, we’ll hear about research into biofuels, cloud-friendly Landsat data, shrubland mapping and satellite-based fire monitoring.

Guests: Dr. Sanath Kumar Sathyachandran, Matthew Rigge, Renee Pischke, contractors to USGS EROS; Logan Megard, South Dakota State University

Host: John Hult

Producers: Brian Hauge, John Hult

Release date: Dec. 5, 2019

More on Poster Session topics

 

 

Nima Pahlevan - Eyes on Earth podcast

Nima Pahlevan

Episode 10 – Landsat and Water Quality

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Summary: We tend to associate Landsat satellites with what we see on solid Earth, but they can also tell us much about the health of our inland and coastal ecosystems. Landsat can be used to monitor harmful algal blooms, for example. Eyes on Earth guest Dr. Nima Pahlevan, a Landsat Science Team member, is part of a research team that tracks algal blooms worldwide using Landsat data.

Guest: Dr. Nima Pahlevan, Landsat Science Team

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Dec. 2, 2019

More on Landsat and Aquatic Health

 

 

Chris Funk, Research Geographer, pictured with USGS EROS Eyes on Earth podcast graphic

Chris Funk

Episode 9 – Famine Early Warning

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Summary: Nearly 85 million people around the world are currently considered “food insecure,” and that figure continues to grow. Remote sensing technology enables scientists to feed data into the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), which in turn can issue alerts that guide the distribution of humanitarian aid. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from an EROS climate scientist who works with the Network to predict drought and famine.

Guest: Chris Funk, USGS EROS Research Geographer

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Nov. 18, 2019

More on FEWS NET

 

 

USDA's Dave Johnson with USGS EROS "Eyes on Earth" graphic

Dave Johnson

Episode 8 – Assessing America’s Cropland

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Summary: Every year, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) uses data from satellites like Landsat to estimate crop types and crop yields in the United States. The result is the Cropland Data Layer (CDL), which offers an annual look at more than 100 crop categories across the country. In this episode, Dave Johnson with NASS discusses how Landsat can identify different crops, providing a valuable economic tool for agriculture.

Guest: Dave Johnson, USDA Senior Geographer with NASS

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Nov. 6, 2019

More on satellite-based cropland data

 

 

Episode 7 – Training Iraqi Scientists

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Color photo of Saud Amer with Eyes on Earth podcast logo

Saud Amer

Summary: EROS scientists track water availability and crop health around the world to help governments and non-profits manage resources and stave off food shortages. But EROS also teaches international scientists to track those resources themselves. In this episode, we hear about a recent training session at EROS for Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources.

GuestSaud Amer, USGS Water Resources Specialist

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: Nov. 4, 2019

More on International Training

 

 

 

Color photo of Doug Daniels with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"

Doug Daniels

Episode 6 - Satellites 101

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Summary: How much does an Earth observation satellite weigh? How are they launched? How fast does it travel? Does Landsat have a gas tank? In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we answer some of the basic questions surrounding the satellites that define the EROS mission.

Guest: Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Oct. 21, 2019

More on Satellites

 

 

 

Episode 5 - Declassified Data at EROS

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Volker Radeloff with USGS EROS "Eyes on Earth" graphic

Dr. Volker Radeloff

Summary: There’s a lot more than Landsat in the EROS Archive. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from a professor who’s mined satellite data collected during once-classified military missions to peer into the history of land use in Eastern Europe during the height of the Cold War.

Guest: Volker Radeloff, professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Oct. 7, 2019

More on EROS Declassified Data

 

 

 

Episode 4 - Cataloging Earth Observation Satellites

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Color photo of Jon Christopherson with USGS EROS "Eyes on Earth" graphic

Jon Christopherson

Summary: Earth observation used to be the province of a handful of countries with satellite technology. Today, hundreds of satellites are built all over the world and launched every year. This episode of Eyes on Earth talks about the explosive growth in the civilian and commercial remote sensing and EROS’ role in it.

Guest: Jon Christopherson, contractor to the USGS EROS Center

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: Sept. 23, 2019

More on the history of EROS

 

 

 

Color photo of Collin Homer with Eyes on Earth podcast logo

Collin Homer, Program Director for the National Land Cover Database.

Episode 3 - National Land Cover Database

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Summary: Sorting Landsat data into an accurate and reliable record of land cover in the United States is one of the most important jobs at EROS. This episode explores the what, how, and why of the National Land Cover Database (NLCD).

Guest: Collin Homer, NLCD Program Director

Host: John Hult

Producer: John Hult

Release date: Sept. 9, 2019

More on NLCD

 

 

 

Color photo of John Dwyer with Eyes on Earth podcast logo

John Dwyer, former Science and Applications Branch Chief at USGS EROS.

Episode 2 - Chernobyl

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Summary: When an accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant's No. 4 reactor in Ukraine on April 26, 1986, Landsat satellites were among the first to capture visual evidence of its widespread impact. The disaster focused the world's attention on the value of remote sensing.

Guest: John Dwyer, EROS Science Branch Chief

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Sept. 9, 2019

More on Chernobyl and remote sensing

 

 

 

 

Color photo of Tom Loveland with Eyes on Earth podcast logo

Tom Loveland

Episode 1 - Intro to EROS

 

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Summary: A rundown of the history of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, the Landsat program, and the Center's role in the observation and study of landscape change worldwide.

Guest: Dr. Thomas Loveland, former Chief Scientist

Host: Steve Young

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: Sept. 9, 2019

More on the history of EROS