How to use free satellite data to monitor natural disasters and environmental changes
This story was originally published by The Conversation. Qiusheng Wu is assistant professor of geography and sustainability at University of Tennessee.
KNOXVILLE — If you want to track changes in the Amazon rainforest, see the full expanse of a hurricane or figure out where people need help after a disaster, it’s much easier to do with the view from a satellite orbiting a few hundred miles above Earth.
Traditionally, access to satellite data has been limited to researchers and professionals with expertise in remote sensing and image processing. However, the increasing availability of open-access data from government satellites such as Landsat and Sentinel, and free cloud-computing resources such as Amazon Web Services, Google Earth Engine and Microsoft Planetary Computer, have made it possible for just about anyone to gain insight into environmental changes underway.
I work with geospatial big data as a professor. Here’s a quick tour of where you can find satellite images, plus some free, fairly simple tools that anyone can use to create time-lapse animations from satellite images.