Washington is a State of untamed wonders, from its ruggedly beautiful coastline to the volcanic peaks of the Cascades. “The Evergreen State” is also a State of contrasts, home to rainforests west of the Cascades and deserts to the east. Half of Washington is forested, and its orchards grow more than one-half of the apples sold in the United States. Rivers are important to the State, particularly the Columbia River, the largest North American river that flows into the Pacific Ocean. Dozens of dams have been constructed in the river basin, including the largest hydroelectric producer in the Nation, the Grand Coulee Dam.
Washington’s diverse landscapes also change in various ways over time. Some are relatively steady, like urban expansion in the populous Puget Sound region. Others can be sudden, like the Mount Saint Helens eruption in 1980—one of the largest volcanic eruptions that caused the largest landslide in U.S. history. Although landscape change may be hard to detect at any one time, the Landsat program provides an objective view of it over decades. Landsat not only allows one to see what Mount Saint Helens looked like before and after the eruption, but also how the area has evolved since.
Here are a few examples of how Landsat benefits Washington.