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Using high-resolution digital aerial imagery to map land cover

April 18, 2014

The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) has used aerial photography to map land cover/land use on federally owned and managed lands for over 20 years. Until recently, that process used 23- by 23-centimeter (9- by 9-inch) analog aerial photos to classify vegetation along the Upper Mississippi River System, on National Wildlife Refuges, and in National Parks. With digital aerial cameras becoming more common and offering distinct advantages over analog film, UMESC transitioned to an entirely digital mapping process in 2009. Though not without challenges, this method has proven to be much more accurate and efficient when compared to the analog process.