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Land Management

Land-use of Portland, OR, 2008. Landsat.
Image: Portland, OR, land use from Landsat data, 2008.

Land Management in-person and online trainings focus on accessing, interpreting, and processing NASA Earth Observation data for a variety of terrestrial applications. Topics include land cover mapping, conducting change detection, and processing vegetation indices such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Trainings aid participants in the areas of conservation, animal movement, phenology, carbon monitoring, and near-shore land/ocean processes.

Courses are designed primarily for local, state, regional, and international land management agencies, NGOs, policy makers, and other applied science professionals.

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If you would like information on upcoming trainings please sign up for the listserv.


To partner with ARSET for training, or to request a topic, please visit training suggestions. For more information about land trainings and materials, contact Amber Jean McCullum or Juan Torres-Pérez.


+ What is the spatial resolution of Landsat?

For the Landsat satellites 5-8, each of the multispectral bands has a spatial resolution of 30 meters. For Landsat 7 and 8 the panchromatic (black and white) band has a spatial resolution of 15 meters. The Landsat 8 the thermal bands (10-11) are collected at 100 meters and resampled at 30 meters.

+ How do Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 bands differ?

Landsat 8 has additional bands. These are a coastal aerosol band (band 1), a cirrus cloud detection band (band 9), and two thermal bands (bands 10 and 11). The bands in Landsat 8 are also within different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum. Therefore you may need to select different band combinations for display purposes. You can also visit the USGS Landsat FAQs for more information about these differences. 

+ What MODIS Land products are available?

There are a variety of MODIS products available for land management applications. The table below has some commonly used products. You can also visit the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center MODIS Products website for more information. 

MODIS Name Product Name Spatial Resolution (m) Temporal Resoultuion
MOD 09 Surface reflectance 500 8-day
MOD 11 Land Surface Temperature 1000 Daily, 8-day
MOD 12 Land Cover/Change 500 8-day, Yearly
MOD 13 Vegetation Indices 250-1000 16 day, Monthly
MOD 14 Thermal Anomalies/Fire 1000 Daily, 8-day
MOD 15 Leaf Area Index/Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FPAR) 1000 4-day, 8-day
MOD 16 Evapotranspiration    
MOD 17 Primary Production 1000 8-day, yearly
MOD 43 Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF)/Albedo 500-1000 16-day
MOD 44 Vegetation Continuous Fields 250 Yearly
MOD 45 Burned Area 500 Monthly


+ What is the spatial resolution of MODIS

The MODIS sensor acquires data at three spatial resolutions: 250 meters, 500 meters, and 1,000 meters. The spatial resolution varies depending on the MODIS product, but many have a spatial resolution of 250 meters. MODIS data are also available in 5,600 meter Climate Modeling Grids (CMG).

+ How often are Landsat and MODIS data acquired?

The Landsat satellites obtain a daytime image of the same point on Earth every 16 days. The daytime pass crosses the equator between 10:00am and 10:15am (local time). The MODIS instrument is onboard both the Terra and Aqua spacecraft. It views the entire surface of the Earth every one to two days. There are also 8-day, 16-day, monthly, quarterly, and yearly composites of MODIS data.

+ What is the Normalized Vegetation Index?

This is an index of plant “greenness” of photosynthetic activity that utilizes the visible and near-infrared bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is a commonly used remote-sensing index used as a proxy for vegetation health. Written mathematically it is:

NDVI = (Near Infrared – Red) / (Near Infrared + Red)

See this NASA Earth Observatory description for more information.

+ What are data processing levels?

Earth Observation data are processed at various levels ranging from Level 0 to Level 4. These levels refer to how the raw satellite measurements are reconstructed, time-referenced, radiometrically and geometrically calibrated, or converted to useful parameters or formats before the user receives the information. For most land management applications, Levels 2 and 3 are often used. Unique processing level descriptions are available on the NASA Earth Science Data Processing Levels website.