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Investigating Land Use Change using Historical USGS Maps and Satellite Imagery in ArcGIS Online

Blog Post created by jkerski-esristaff Employee on Oct 30, 2015
An article I wrote in NASA's Geographia invites exploration of land use change using USGS historical topographic maps and historical and current Landsat satellite imagery, beginning in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Humans have modified the landscape of Planet Earth in many ways. This modification is nothing new—it began as the earliest humans began burning of local grasslands to encourage new growth, tilling the soil for the first agricultural experiments, and building small dams to ensure a water source. Yet today’s changes are more frequent and also larger in area, from the construction of cities, reservoirs, and tunnels, to widespread land use change through the conversion of the natural land cover to cropland, grazing pastures, mining sites, and other uses.

One of the ways that humans have modified the landscape is in their attempt to make parts of deserts more habitable. Some of the most famous examples include the transformation of coastal fishing villages in the United Arab Emirates into major world cities, and the creation of resort areas around the world in Australia’s outback, Namibia, Morocco, and in the USA, including the cities of Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Lake Havasu City, shown on the series of topographic maps below.

Use the Esri USGS Historical Map viewer, the Change Matters Landsat viewer, and the Landsat Look viewer to examine land use change in your own area of interest!
1911 map

1911 USGS map at 1:125,000 scale of Parker.Lake Havasu 1970 map

1970 map at 1:24,000 scale, Lake Havasu City South.Lake Havasu map 1994

1994 map at 1:24,000 scale, Lake Havasu City South.

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