Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Podcast: Truth From the Skies



On this week's podcast, John Amos, founder of SkyTruth, shares just how satellite images help tell some of Earth's most important stories.

Image: NASA

Mountaintop removal mining, where the tops of mountains are blown away to harvest the coal underneath, leaves unmistakable scars across the landscape. Satellite images of coal country are dotted with the grey smudges that indicate a mountain used to be there, and Amos has been tracking their growth and proliferation. This Landsat image shows the Hobet mine in Boone County, West Virginia in 1984...

Image: NASA

And the very same location in 2009.

Image: SkyTruth
By overlaying satellite images of new oil wells in the American west with radio collar data of the movements of mule deer, its clear that the creatures stay away from the new roads and drilling infrastructure. Red indicates areas where the deer spend a lot of time, while the brown are areas they avoid.

Image: SkyTruth
Satellite images were crucial in 2010 to track the size and spread of the BP oil spill.

Image: SkyTruth
SkyTruth's latest effort FrackFinder, crowdsources the job of analyzing satellite images. Users can log on and help track when and where oil and gas wells were built in Pennsylvania.

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