Celebrating a 40 year milestone of Landsat Color photomosaics

I was going through a collection of maps in my basement this weekend and found the map seen below: PORTRAIT U.S.A. – the first color photomosaic of the 48 contiguous United States which was featured in the July 1976 issue of National Geographic Magazine. Here’s to forty years of color photomosaics!  Happy Monday!

Here’s a description of the map from the National Geographic website: The first color satellite photomosaic of the 48 contiguous United States, this landmark map was published in July of 1976. The near-true color imagery creates a portrait of the patchwork quilt of the entire country. Trace the Mississippi river from its source to the Gulf of Mexico. See the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Follow the Rocky Mountains through the western states. A cartographic benchmark, this map laid the groundwork for the many that have followed.



In the blog post, “When the Earth Began Looking at Itself: the Landsat Program,” Fosco Lucarelli, provides additional history and images of Landsat program. The PORTRAIT U.S.A is composed of 700 mosaic images.

Dive into the OSM World of Mapping – 4-H youth mapping event

On June 30, 2016, IowaView staff hosted a mapping workshop as part of the annual Iowa 4-H State Conference. There were 7 students in attendance. The workshop included an introduction to GIS/remote sensing, a summary of a current GIS Facility project, and two hands-on mapping projects in George, Iowa and Mount Singabung, Indonesia.

For various mapping workshops, IowaView has been adopting small towns (Leon, Ogden) across Iowa to continue adding to and filling in the Open Street Map basemap for Iowa. George, Iowa is a small town with a population of 1,055 located in Lyon County in northwest Iowa.

IowaView choose to focus our second project on Mount Singabung, Indonesia which was identified as a top priority by the United States Geological Survey – Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. Sinabung is an active stratovolcano that has had consistent activity since 2010. The volcano poses a significant risk to those living in close proximity. Recent activity includes eruptions in 2010, 2013, 2014. The latest eruption occurred May 2016, killing 7 Indonesians.

The group made over 2,500 edits during the workshop.

Below are before and after screen shots of George, Iowa.

George4-H_ 6_30_2016_closeUp


Results from MLK Jr. Day MapGive Event

On January 18, 2016, IowaView hosted our second annual mapping party to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Over the course of the party we mapped over 1,500 ways (linear features and boundaries) and over 10,000 nodes (points). Our efforts were primarily focused on the town of Ogden, Iowa and Raung, East Java, Indonesia, an area identified as high priority by the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program.

Below is a link to a story map showing the progress we have made mapping Ogden, Iowa over the last two mapping events we have hosted.

2nd Annual MLK Jr. Day Mapping Party!!!

On January 18, 2016, the IowaView staff hosted the 2nd Annual OSM/MapGive Mapping Party at ISU’s Durham Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There were 20 mappers that were able to join in the day of service on site and several that participated remotely. For the first part of the session participants mapped a small Iowa town and then for the second part of the session participants spent time mapping areas around Raung Volcano, in East Java, Indonesia as part of a collaboration with Volcano Disaster Assistance Program.


IowaView Staff Attend AmericaView Fall Technical Meeting in SD

erosThe IowaView Staff attended the AmericaView Fall Technical Meeting on October 22 and 23, 2015, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. The meeting was attended by many of the AmericaView members. It was a good time of collaboration and sharing of knowledge and expertise. Below are three posters that IowaView staff contributed to the poster session.

IowaView Research Poster

IowaView Outreach Poster

IowaView Tile Mapping Poster

Back to School Teaching Tools: Using Phenocam Images in the Classroom

The new school year has begun. As we trade in our flip flops and towels for shoes, socks, and shirts, the world around us is also signalling the change of seasons. The grass and trees will soon be getting their autumn colors as they fade from their vigorous summer greens and yellows to reds, oranges, and browns. This is a great time to introduce and discuss concepts of seasonal change, phenology,

The Harvard Forest website has over two dozen great resources to get students (5th grade – high school) thinking about seasonal change. Below are several exercises that especially stood out:

  1. Comparing historical writing to current phenocam data for observe changes in species leaf off timing
  2. Comparing the percentage of color change of individual trees in a phenocam image to the percentage of change in a canopy-wide image
  3. Generating a temperature vs. percent leafs fallen graph

IowaView Phenocams are online!


IowaView Phenocam – Grand Tetons, WY

A phenocam is a digital camera that takes pictures at set intervals as a way to track the change in vegetation and climatic conditions throughout the year at a given location. The phenocam provides fixed scene, time-lapse images over the course of a year, which can then be analyzed for a variety of scientific uses, including seasonal changes such as spring “green-up” or fall “leaf-off.”

WYphenocam Crew

Team members installing the IowaView Phenocam in Wyoming

IowaView has partnered with Dr. Diane Debinski and the Debinski Lab (Iowa State University – Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology) to install two phenocams at their research areas in Iowa – Grand River Grassland and Wyoming – Grand Teton. The IowaView phenocams are part of a larger phenocam network across the USA and world.


Locations of Phenocams Sites


Picture taken by IowaView Phenocam – Grand Tetons in Wyoming


Picture taken by IowaView Phenocam – Grand River Grasslands in Iowa

In the coming weeks, we will provides links for educational opportunities that provide instructions on using the phenocam data in the classroom.

Thanks to the Debinski Lab for their work getting our phenocams running!  Great work!

GRG Phenocam Team

Phenocam Installation Crew in Iowa

Discover the OSM World of Mapping: Teaching 4-H Youth to Digitally Map

Over the last year, the Iowa State University GIS Facility has hosted several mapping events to teach groups about the opportunities in online mapping, such as the volunteer efforts of the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT). In July of 2015, a 4-H seminar was hosted on our campus with the theme Dare to Discover. For the event, the GIS Facility hosted two workshops to introduce Iowan youth (high school) to the world of digital mapping and remote humanitarian work.


Description of Task
The intent of the project was to introduce Iowa youth to the components and importance of mapping, and to interest them in its applications. To accomplish this, we developed three goals:

1.) Provide the students with a background in GIS, remote sensing, and digital mapping.
2.) Teach the students about the OSM and HOT programs.
3.) Start the students working in local and humanitarian areas.

To ensure all students could begin mapping upon arrival at the workshop, we created twenty ‘dummy’ OSM accounts to provide them at the beginning of the session. These accounts allowed us to monitor the students’ progress, while helping to keep them on task and working with the group as a whole.

To execute the first and second tasks, we created an introductory PowerPoint to define the fundamental concepts of mapping: from uses of GIS, to the origins of aerial imagery and remote sensing. Hoping to trigger the students’ curiosity, we employed an array of exciting imagery and varied descriptions of field applications. Finally, we showed them the video “Why Map?” on the MapGive website.

For the third tasks, students were asked to begin digitizing the features of a small, unmapped town: Ogden, Iowa. This step was intended to adjust students to working remotely, providing them with high-resolution imagery and a familiar landscape. Using the teachOSM tasking manager, the town was sectioned into small, manageable areas. The trainer presented additional PowerPoint slides and a live demonstration explaining; how to create lines, points, and areas; and label and save after each edit.

Students were asked to spend the first half of the mapping session learning to digitize streets, waterways, houses, and parks for Ogden. After thirty minutes, they transferred to the humanitarian area provided by the HOT tasking manager in Namaacha, Mozambique, where they continued to map for the remainder of the session.

Fortunately, we encountered very few problems during the workshops. Most students participated readily, and the creation of extra accounts guaranteed no issues with the opening process. Our final review indicated that some students squared or rounded areas, while others did not, resulting in uneven mapping quality between users. A few students working in blocks on the edge of town extended beyond their intended boundary and mapped surrounding farm fields, and a mischievous student drew an imaginary lake in Ogden and several non-existent triangle buildings: quite the surprise for our final editor.

Though this was our third OSM/MapGive workshop, it was our first time using the teachOSM task manager. We feel that the similarity between the teachOSM and HOT mapping interfaces provided organization as we transitioned the students from the former to the latter. The lock-area tool enabled us to delineate areas for individuals to work in, preventing duplicate edits, while providing a manageable area for completion.

To track workflow and understand how well students learned to map in our allotted time period, we analyzed the number of features created; per account, per day, per area. In total, students seemed to take to mapping quickly; creating an average of 51 features each (some mapping only a few, some mapping as many as 120 features). The comparison between edits in Iowa to Mozambique revealed that most students mapped areas of the humanitarian effort more proficiently than they did the town in Iowa, indicating either improved skill or increased interest. In total, students mapped 1031 features over the two-day period.
As a bonus, some of the students commented regarding the differences between the imagery from their state of Iowa, to the HOT area in Namaacha, Mozambique. They became attentive to differences between the sizes of housing, quality of roadways, and other features on the landscape. Though our intent was to introduce students to mapping and online humanitarian efforts, we accomplished yet another wonderful feat: teaching students more about the world around them.