GeoWorld July 2011

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NEWSLINK Library of Congress Exhibits Landsat Imagery Imagery isn’t just for making maps, plotting data, gleaning intelligence and making decisions. It also can be a thing to be admired. And now the Library of Congress and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are highlighting satellite imagery as art. Through May 2012, the library is hosting an exhibit titled “USGS Earth as Art,” which showcases a series of images from the USGS Landsat satellite-imagery program. Exhibit planners chose 40 satellite images based on aesthetic appeal—taking into consideration features such as clouds, mountain ranges, islands, deltas, glaciers and other formations resembling abstract art. “The striking beauty revealed in these Landsat images, acquired nearly 450 miles above Earth’s surface, reminds us that scientists pursue their calling not just out of curiosity, but because they are inspired by the natural world,” said Marcia McNutt, USGS Director. “We are delighted to share ‘our Muse’ with the public through this exhibit at the Library of Congress.” The imagery comes from an Earth-observation pro- gram that has been around for close to four decades. Landsat satellites support scientific research for USGS and other agencies by providing observational data on land use, vegetation growth, deforestation, agriculture, erosion, snow accumulation, and other natural processes and factors. “These new ‘Earth as Art’ images will delight everyone,” added John Hébert, chief of the Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress. “It is amazing to see how places on Earth as viewed from space do appear as art and yet, at the same time, they signal an ever-present influence of humankind in shaping Earth’s appearance.” The exhibit is free to the public and open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Images are available online at After Twisters, Alabama County Turns to GIS One of the Alabama counties hit hard during the early wave of spring 2011 tornadoes that struck the Southeast United States turned to GIS services to begin rebuilding. Jefferson County, Ala.—home to the state’s larg- est city, Birmingham—moved quickly into damage- assessment mode after suffering tornado and storm damage in late April 2011. County officials turned to geospatial tools and providers to help document damage locations and extent, including 3-GIS, a software-development firm. The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency (JCEMA) used 3-GIS to set up a GIS in Decatur, Ala. The system served as an aggregation tool to populate data for systems at the county’s Emergency Operations Center. The data going into the system helped decision makers begin to understand the spa- tial relationship of the storms’ impact—and created actionable information for the center and other organi- zations to use in responding to the disaster. “The amount of damage this region has suffered Landsat satellite images such as this shot of Lake Carnegie in Western Australia are part of a Library of Congress exhibit showcasing “Earth as Art.” 6 GEO W ORLD / JUL Y 2O11 is incredible.” said Tom Counts, president of 3-GIS. “However, it is measurable and quantifiable, and we are happy to utilize our personnel and tools to assist JCEMA in creating a starting point the county can utilize to assist those affected in rebuilding and gain- ing FEMA assistance. The data from our system will be utilized by many county organizations to assist in assessing, recovering and permitting for the rebuild of our local community.” USGS

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