Landsat in Action - Land Cover and Land Cover Change with Tom Loveland

Video Transcript
Download Video
Right-click and save to download

Detailed Description

Tom Loveland talks about using Landsat's data for land use and land cover change research.

Find this video and thousands more at

Stay up-to-date on USGS topics and news on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more at


Image Dimensions: 1920 x 1080

Date Taken:

Length: 00:03:51

Location Taken: Sioux Falls, SD, US


My name's Tom Loveland. I'm a researcher with the US Geological Survey’s EROS center on and I'm involved in land use and land cover change research. My work over the years have been involved in trying to use remote sensing to map and monitor land cover land cover change and I've been doing that primarily over large areas, states to nations, to the globe. Land cover maps are a fundamental geo spatial input for a wide range of environmental, economic and other types of investigations on the impacts between human activity and the environment. It's also important to have a fundamental knowledge of what the land is made of and how it's changing and why it's changing and so my work has contributed to a number of those areas. I think it's important to realize that the the USGS put a lot of preparation and to the applications of Landsat data prior to launching the first satellite and around that time started investing in the capabilities to use remotely sensed data and especially Landsat for studying and mapping land cover and over the years we have continually changed and innovated our approach to it, increased the frequency of products improve their accuracy and expanded the applications and so the USGS plays a pretty critical role in meeting the national need for land cover and it's all because of the ability to use Landsat records so effectively. When Landsat was conceived its mission objective was to understand the condition of the planet and to be able to distinguish between natural and human change and so mapping land cover was a natural core part of Landsat mission and over the years it's contributed to that by having that synoptic view of the planet we’re able to document change rates from place to place from Landsat pixel for pixel and when we do that over large areas we see that some areas of our world are changing constantly and others are relatively stable and so simply being able to identify those regions is something that Landsat’s uniquely qualified to do. The Landsat science team represents a window on the Landsat user community and as such they provide a great deal of insight and intelligence on Landsat data, our use what the limitations are and the changes that may come about. For instance they provided a lot of the early advocacy and making Landsat data available to users worldwide at no cost. They argued in favor of something called the Landsat global archive consolidation initiative in which we have it centrally at the USGS been rescuing historical Landsat data scattered around the world that current and former ground stations. All changes are local when we're looking at land use our land cover off it's it's the accumulation of a number of local decisions that end up having impacts both locally regionally and ultimately at the global level and because Landsat is so synoptic we have the ability to start looking at both the causes and the consequences of land change from that local to global scale.