To fully understand processes involving land cover change requires training from a wide variety of disciplines, including Environmental Studies, Geography, Forest & Wildlife Ecology, and Urban Planning. Our faculty offer several relevant classes at both graduate and undergraduate levels, including training in theory, policy, and geospatial technologies such as remote sensing and geographic information science (GIS).

Remote sensing & GIS

Remote sensing – the ability to image the Earth from air or space at various spatial scales – is of particular interest to scientists looking at geographic features of the landscape, including forests, cropland, and cities. Remote sensing is part of the growing field of geospatial technologies, and the courses we offer are a few of the many offered by the UW-Madison Geospatial Alliance. Check out their class listings for additional information.

Introduction to environmental remote sensing (Env St 371)

Introduction to the Earth as viewed from above, focusing on use of aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the environment. Includes physical processes of electromagnetic radiation, data types and sensing capabilities, methods for interpretation, analysis and mapping, and applications.

Intermediate environmental remote sensing (Env St 372)

Examines intermediate-level concepts in information extraction, data processing and radiative transfer relevant to remote sensing of the environment. Includes transforms, image correction, classification algorithms and change detection, with emphasis on applications for land use planning and natural resource management.

Digital image processing for environmental remote sensing (Env St 556)

Explore intermediate- to advanced-level image analysis, data extraction, and map-making using earth observation data. Learn change detection, data fusion, analysis of dense image time stacks, as well as traditional and semi-automated radiometric and geometric correction techniques. Test advanced machine learning and data mining algorithms for environmental applications, including both object-oriented and pixel-based processing. Explore a range of optical, infrared, radar, lidar, and thermal data across multiple spatial resolutions. Includes hands-on labs and a final project based on the student’s interests.

Remote sensing of vegetation (Env St 900)

Examines the use of remote sensing to study vegetation. Topics addressed include resource inventory and evaluation for forests and agriculture; ecosystem processes like primary productivity and biogeochemical cycles; and spectural reflectance measurement and models.

Remote sensing for international development (Geog 970)

Seminar designed to explore the ways remote sensing data are being used within an international development context, broadly defined. Examines how projects were completed with satellite data, what data sources were necessary, how expert local knowledge was incorporated, and how various challenges were faced and overcome. Particular attention paid to how application of remote sensing data helped alter policy in different countries across the globe.

Courses on land cover change

There are a wide variety of courses on campus that are relevent to the study of land cover change. Our faculty regularly offer the following classes:

The urban environment (Env St 401)

Introduction to the environmental issues facing urban areas, a review of the fundamental theories, concepts, and tools for developing successful responses to these problems, and a discussion of the interdisciplinary perspective needed to tackle unanswered questions about the sustainability of urban systems.

Modeling environmental systems (Env St 506)

Systems modeling; applications to environmental problems; systems methods.

Land use-land cover change seminar (Env St 900)

Seminar-style course that examines the development of land change studies and the theoretical and methodological challenges to linking biophysical, socio-economic, and remote sensing/GIS analysis. Specific focus on the underlying and proximate drivers of different land cover transitions.

International workshops

In addition to courses and seminars offered on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, our faculty participate in a number of outreach and workshop activities in locations across the globe. Some of our recent activities include:

Monitoring peri-urban environments, Hanoi, Vietnam

The Land-Cover/Land-Use Change (LCLUC) Science Team meeting was hosted by the Hanoi University of Agriculture in Vietnam. The focus of the science meeting was on aspects of land-cover and land-use change of relevance to the S.E. Asia region and the global change research community. Research was presented on four major themes: regional trends in land-cover change (forests, agriculture, urban) and remote sensing methods, patterns and processes of peri-urban development, carbon monitoring, and land-atmosphere interactions.

Remote sensing of boreal regions training session, Tartu, Estonia

This Land-Cover/Land-Use Change (LCLUC) Science Team meeting was held jointly with the GOFC-GOLD Northern Eurasia Regional Information Network (NERIN) and the Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI) in Tartu, Estonia. The focus of this meeting was on monitoring processes related to land-cover and land-use change in boreal and temperate regions of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe.

Remote sensing of Northern Eurasia workshop, Almaty, Khazakhstan

This joint meeting of the NASA Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Science Team and GOFC-GOLD/NERIN, NEESPI, MAIRS network focused on land cover, land use and fire in agricultural and semi-arid regions of Northern Eurasia.

Geospatial technologies workshop, Khon Kaen, Thailand

The NASA Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Science Team joint meeting with MAIRS, GOFC-GOLD and SEA START Programs on land-cover/land-use change processes in the Monsoon Asia Region was held in Khon Kaen, Thailand, hosted by Khon Kaen University.

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