GeoCarta Has Moved

Feb 1, 2007

U.S., Canada, Join Forces to Map Land Cover

The U.S. Geological Survey and Natural Resources Canada have joined forces to launch a high-tech satellite mapping initiative to better monitor changes in the land cover of the two nations.

The joint mapping effort will use infrared, radar relief and other remote sensing techniques, to produce integrated information that will help natural resource managers to assess the health of landscapes, the risks of wildfires, changes in biodiversity and the effects of climate change on permafrost.

The agreement involves a dynamic land-cover monitoring system for all of North America and the development of permafrost modeling applications. Future plans call for the development of radar applications.

The land-cover mapping initiative will be useful to both countries, as well as the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. One of the first efforts will be the mapping of the Yukon River Basin to study the permafrost. The joint permafrost mapping will focus on assessing the impacts of climate change on human settlements, physical infrastructure, and ecosystems in both countries.

One key benefit cited to the unified land-cover mapping effort is in monitoring wildfire risk across the border. "Natural processes like wildland fires do not stop at the border, so this type of information is critical for identifying land-cover trends,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said.

In announcing the new effort, the Honourable Gary Lunn, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources noted that the two countries have a long history of cooperation and stated, “Working together, this partnership will allow us to share information and maximize our scientific knowledge so that we can better monitor the changes of our land, including the permafrost areas in the North.”

Photo courtesy National Resources Canada.

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