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Hawaii and Landsat

May 4, 2022

Hawaii stands apart from the rest of the United States, literally and figuratively. The nearest of the eight islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago is 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland. Like every bit of land mass within the State, it emerged from the Pacific Ocean after thousands of years of undersea volcanic activity. Kona International Airport, on the “Big Island” of Hawai‘i, was built atop 220-year-old lava flows from the Hualālai volcano.

The volcanic soils and tropical vegetation that stretch across Hawaii’s postcard-perfect peaks and valleys, as well as the trade winds that blow precipitation northeast across the islands and the warm Kona winds that move in from the south, are among the factors that make the study of the State’s landscapes distinct from the rest of the Nation.

Six active volcanoes continue to alter the land surface. Some of them, like the constantly erupting Kīlauea or Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, can threaten human life and property. Man-made changes to the islands, such as the long-term agricultural production of sugar cane or pineapple, along with the introduction of non-native species, have also affected the health of the State’s ecosystems.

Landsat satellites, with 50 years of repeat Earth observations and decades of data from infrared and thermal instruments capable of tracking lava flows, can offer unique opportunities for the study of Hawaii’s ever-changing landscapes. Here are a few examples of how Landsat benefits the State.

Publication Year 2022
Title Hawaii and Landsat
DOI 10.3133/fs20223024
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Fact Sheet
Series Number 2022-3024
Index ID fs20223024
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center