Discussion Paper

Earth Observations in Social Science Research for Management of Natural Resources and the Environment: Identifying the Contribution of the U.S. Land Remote Sensing (Landsat) Program

Mar 1, 2009 | Molly K. Macauley

Abstract

This paper surveys and describes the peer-reviewed social science literature in which data from the U.S. land remote sensing program, Landsat, inform public policy in managing natural resources and the environment. The Landsat program has provided the longest collection of observations of Earth from the vantage point of space. The paper differentiates two classes of research: methodology exploring how to use the data (for example, designing and testing algorithms or verifying the accuracy of the data) and applications of data to decisionmaking or policy implementation in managing land, air quality, water, and other natural and environmental resources. Selection of the studies uses social science-oriented bibliographic search indices and expands results of previous surveys that target only researchers specializing in remote sensing or photogrammetry. The usefulness of Landsat as a basis for informing public investment in the Landsat program will be underestimated if this body of research goes unrecognized