Satellite remote sensing is an evolving technology with the potential for contributing to studies of the human dimensions of global environmental change by making globally comprehensive evaluations of many human actions from multispectral satellite images from satellite sensors such as Landsat(15m) and ASTER(15m) . Satellite sensor data have proven to be useful to the atmospheric and ocean sciences communities. The land sciences community has made extensive use of satellite image data for mapping land cover, estimating geophysical and biophysical characteristics of terrain features, and monitoring changes in land cover. More recently, the scientific community has witnessed a growing demand for high resolution satellite imagery on investigating the human dimensions of global change from sensors such as QuickBird(0.6m) and IKONOS(0.8m) resolution due to the quality and accuracy of detail of our ever changing planet.
Human actions involving biomass fuel consumption, land-use change, and agricultural activities all involve direct interaction with the global land surface. The extent of these interactions has prompted concern about the possible effects on the global physical, chemical, and biological systems. Large-scale changes in land use at rates unprecedented in human history are provoking considerable concern. Land-use change is frequently accompanied by alterations or changes in land cover, which may possibly contribute to subsequent environmental change. Evaluation of the static attributes of land cover (types, amount, and arrangement) and the dynamic attributes (types and rates of change) on satellite image data may allow the types of change to be regionalized and the proximate sources of change to be identified or inferred. This information, combined with results of case studies or surveys, can provide helpful input to informed evaluations of interactions among the various driving forces.
Beginning with the early use of aerial photography, remote sensing has been recognized as a valuable tool for viewing, analyzing, characterizing, and making decisions about our environment. In the past few decades, remote sensing technology has advanced on three fronts:
1) Predominantly military uses to a variety of environmental analysis applications that relate to land, ocean, and atmosphere issues.
2) Photographic systems to sensors that convert energy from many parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to electronic signals.
3) Aircraft to satellite platforms.
Today, we define satellite remote sensing as the use of satellite-borne sensors to observe, measure, and record the electromagnetic radiation reflected or emitted by the Earth and its environment for subsequent analysis and extraction of information.