Footprints across the U.S.

The Wildlife Conservation Society and Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) have just completed a comprehensive assessment of human impacts on wildlife across the globe. Part of their goal was to find the most untouched or pristine places in the world. The most pristine place in the U.S.? Alaska, although that may not be for long if developments like drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) take place.

A nice graphic in the NYTimes article shows the varied impacts.

As posted previously on the Famine Early Warning Systems, this system also relies more on the data quality than the data analysis. Unlike FEWS, this is an entirely remoted sensed project. The NYTimes report mentions land use but it’s actually land cover, a subtle yet important distinction (see below). And the resolution in these types of analyses is small. Smaller resolutions equal big pixels. The bigger the pixel the more difficult it is to see small activities.

To give you a sense of how difficult it is to work at this scale with the data at hand, it’s as if all your data has the resolution of baseball stadiums. You’re trying to infer hotdog and beer sales from a baseball stadium sized snapshot. To get a sense of land use-land cover. The covered stadium is the akin to the land cover; what you’re trying to determine is the activity taking place under the dome–the land use.

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