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The following are selected highlights of recent research supported by CCSP participating agencies (as reported in the fiscal year 2007 edition of the annual report, Our Changing Planet).
Global Geographically Registered Landsat Data Set 
Earth’s land surface is spatially variable at scales of meters to tens of meters, due to local terrain variability and associated microclimatic influences on vegetation types and associations. Accordingly, spatial data at the scale of tens of meters are required to accurately map many areas, because of the low spatial autocorrelation of land-surface features. In addition, a variety of natural and human land-use changes (e.g., wildfires, deforestation, wetland conversion, and urbanization) represent alterations of landscapes, which also occur at spatial scales of tens of meters. These are important perturbations of the global environment and require similar spatial-scale data for quantification. Information is currently lacking about where environmental change is occurring, what the changes are, and what the post-change properties of the altered areas are. Landsat data are available at these spatial scales and are consequently extremely useful for studying land-use and land-cover change from space.
A global land data set having high spatial accuracy has been developed using Landsat Multi-Spectral Scanner, Thematic Mapper, and Enhanced Thematic Mapperdata from the 1970s, circa 1990, and circa 2000, respectively, to support a variety of scientific studies and educational purposes. This is the first time a geodetically accurate global compendium of multi-epoch digital satellite data at the 30- to 80-m spatial scale spanning 30 years has been produced for use by the international scientific and educational communities. These data are being distributed from multiple locations and are currently being used for land-use and land-cover change research (see Figure 21).
Understanding environmental or land-cover dynamics represents an important challenge in the study of the global environment, since many land-cover changes take place at fine scales of resolution, requiring Landsat-type imagery for accurate measurement. Uses for such data range from biodiversity and habitat mapping for localized areas to specifying parameters for large-scale numerical models simulating biogeochemical cycling, hydrologic processes, and ecosystem functioning. Recent work has stressed the importance of the effects of land-cover change on climate.
Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive Processing System: A North American Forest Disturbance Record from Landsat 
Forest-cover conversion, disturbance regimes, and recovery from conversion and disturbance have been proposed as primary mechanisms for transferring carbon between the land surface and the atmosphere, but the area and timing of these processes is still poorly quantified. A pilot project, the Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive Processing System (LEDAPS) has been initiated to “mine” the Landsat observational record, which spans more than 33 years, in order to assess forest disturbance across all of North America, in support of the CCSP’s North American Carbon Program. Figure 22 shows an example of the products from this project.
Landsat Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper data have been corrected for atmospheric obscuration using algorithms and processing approaches derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on the Terra and Aqua satellites. To date, some 2,200 Landsat images covering North America have been corrected, and can be downloaded from the LEDAPS web site. Disturbance and recovery are being mapped using a multi-spectral “Disturbance Index” algorithm. By late-2006, scientists will be able to download maps of forest change for the interval 1990 to 2000, both at full resolution (30 m) and coarse resolution suitable for carbon modeling (500 m and 0.05 degree). Later releases will cover the period 1975 to 1990. Funded by NASA, the LEDAPS project includes researchers from NASA, the U.S. Forest Service, and the University of Maryland.
Mapping 50 Years of Forest Conversion in Madagascar with Satellite Data
The Ortho-rectified Landsat Global Data were used to quantitatively determine the tropical moist forest, tropical deciduous forest, and spiny woodland of Madagascar for the 1970s, 1990, and 2000. The satellite data were analyzed and field verifications were performed by low-altitude aerial reconnaissance, errors in the analysis were corrected, and a more accurate classification for the entire island (590,000 km2)produced. The satellite data were combined with aerial photographs to extend the work back to the 1950s.
Madagascar’s forest cover decreased substantially over the 50-year period, from 27% of the island in the 1950s to only 16% circa 2000 (see Figure 23). Taking the fragmentation of forests into consideration, the decrease was even more drastic. From the 1950s to circa 2000, the area of “high-quality,” or interior forest more than 1 km from a non-forest edge, decreased from 90,000 km2 to less than 20,000 km2, and the area in patches of greater than 100 km2 decreased by more than half. Deforestation rates slowed in the 1990s for the tropical humid and dry forests, but not for the spiny forest. However, the clearing rates are still of concern among all forest types, considering the small portion of remaining habitat.
The results emphasize the need for more effective forest conservation in Madagascar. The researchers suggest goals of halting further primary forest clearance as soon as possible, and initiating strategically located forest restoration efforts. Given the lag time of species extinction after habitat destruction, it is probable that many species are living on borrowed time; forest restoration could partially mitigate this dynamic.
Land Cover, Land-Use Change, Human Dimensions, and Wildlife Conservation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania 
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania has a dense population of African wildlife that coexists with an expanding human population of Maasai agro-pastoralists and non-Maasai agriculturalists. The expanding human population has started to encroach upon the savanna areas that the wildlife and the domestic animals of the Maasai agro-pastoralists use in common. To complicate matters further, the savanna areas within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are climatically variable and strongly influenced by El Niño and La Niña events: droughts are experienced under El Niño conditions and excessive rain occurs under La Niña conditions.
Landsat satellite data were used to map the conversion of pastoral areas to cultivation. By 2000, cultivation had increased to 40 km2 of the 8,300-km2 Ngorongoro Conservation Area. While this was a miniscule amount of cultivation as of 2000, the potential for future increases in population and associated cultivation were modeled to assess impacts on the livelihoods of the population and on the various wildlife populations. Analysis of demographic and satellite data determined a linear relationship between population and area of cultivation. These results were extended into the future using the SAVANNA ecosystem simulation model. The study found that a doubling of the human population would lead to a doubling of the area of cultivation, to approximately 80 km2 or 1% of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which would not have a negative effect on wildlife populations or on the Maasai agro-pastoralists. The work was jointly funded by USAID and NSF.
Fire Information for Resource Management System 
Until recently, protected area managers who wanted to use satellite-derived information to monitor fires burning within their area of jurisdiction faced considerable challenges—particularly those working in remote locations and with limited access to the Internet. Protected area managers usually want to know the locations of active fires within relatively small areas, generally their park and its surroundings. They also want this information delivered with minimal file sizes that can be accessed quickly and easily over the Internet. The CCSP Fire Information for Resource Management System is being developed to meet these requirements in three ways: by providing MODIS active fire information via an interactive web mapping interface; by providing true-color MODIS images, or subsets that show fires burning within specific conservation areas; and by delivering fire alerts through emails and cell phone text messages. Figure 24 provides an example of the interactive web depiction produced by this system.
Rural Sprawl an Important Land-Use Change 
Research jointly supported by NASA and USDA provides a comprehensive view of how the Nation’s changing socioeconomic characteristics have wrought profound changes in land development, particularly in rural areas of the United States. Using archived data from the censuses of population, housing, and agriculture, the results indicate that one quarter of the 48 contiguous United States now consists of so-called exurban development with low-density housing (6 to 25 homes per km2). This is a five-fold increase since 1950. The amounts are even higher in the eastern United States. These increases are largely at the expense of agricultural lands. Using remotely sensed data for the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states, the study also found that forest and agricultural land covers have decreased while urban and mechanically disturbed land areas have increased. The relatively widespread growth in U.S. population between 1950 and 2000, coupled with decreasing household sizes and increasing lot sizes, has resulted in major increases in rural sprawl in most regions of the United States, with the possible exception of the Great Plains region (see Figure 25). The information-driven economy has fueled rural sprawl by enabling people to make a living even in relatively isolated areas, including amenity rich areas like the upper Midwest and rural West.
Evidence of Climate Change Due to Historical Practices in Land-Use and Land-Cover Change 
The consequences of the land-use and land-cover practices of the ancient Mayans in sustaining a dense population in Central America might be instructive to our survival in a world with shrinking space and resources. They lived in present-day Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, and maintained a population density of 700 to 800 people per km2. Recently published research indicates that by AD 800, the Mayans had cut down or deforested all the tropical forests in the surrounding area. They used the wood for buildings, cooking, and manufacturing lime to pave great plazas and roads. The massive deforestation altered the pattern of rainfall, producing or exacerbating periods of drought. Mayan civilization was already in drastic decline when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. The present-day tropical forest in this area, once believed to be primeval, is actually only about 600 years old. This is one example of historical land-use and land-cover changes that have affected many previous cultures and contributed to their collapse.
Satellite and aircraft remote-sensing techniques were used in this study to find abandoned Mayan cities (see Figure 26), water storage areas, and agricultural fields to document the extent of Mayan occupation of their Central American landscape. The same satellite remote-sensing techniques that are widely used to study present day land-use and land-cover change also play a key role in understanding historical land-use and land-cover change, such as that of the Mayan culture.
Urbanization, Land-Use and Land-Cover Change, and the Carbon Cycle: Consequences for Net Primary Productivity in the United States 
Using a combination of daytime and nighttime satellite data and a biophysical model, estimates of the impact of urbanization on net primary production have been made. Nighttime images from the Defense Meteorological Satellite’s (DMSP) Operational Linescan system were used to create a thematic map portraying the extent and spatial distribution of urbanized, semi-urbanized, and non-urbanized areas in the lower 48 states (see Figure 27, top panel). The DMSP-based urban categories were geo-registered to a 12-layer map of monthly maximum normalized difference vegetation index values derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor and a digital land cover map. Monthly net primary production values were calculated over the course of a year for all land-cover types and summed to provide a map of total annual net primary production for the United States at 1-km spatial resolution (see Figure 27, lower panel). The net primary production is the product of the Carnegie Stanford Ames Approach (CASA) productivity model driven by 1992-1993 AVHRR data and current climate, and can be considered a “post-urban” representation of the net primary productivity of the land surface.
Most of the urbanization in the United States has taken place on the lands with higher rates of net primary production. The estimated overall reduction of net primary production due to urban land transformation in the United States relative to total pre-urban production is 1.6% per year. The reduction of net primary production from agricultural lands is equivalent to food products capable of satisfying the caloric needs of 16.5 million people or about 6% of the U.S. population.
1) Boone, R.B., K.A. Galvin, P.K. Thornton, D.M. Swift, and M.B. Coughenour, 2006: Cultivation and conservation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Human Ecology (in press).