LCLUC Newsletter - Spring 2022

LCLUC Newsletter Summer 2023


We are pleased to present the latest developments from our LCLUC projects, Science Team members, and related land-cover and land-use change research.

This edition includes the LCLUC and related news highlights, awards, solicitations, journal special issues, featured publications, updates on new satellite and data products, webinars, and much more.

Take a moment to check out the LCLUC Hotspot Mapper product on our website which shows the geographical distribution of high-impact land-use and land-cover change hotspots studied in various LCLUC projects.

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News Highlights

Dr. Garik Gutman receives NASA'S Exceptional Service Medal.

On April 26th, George ‘Garik’ Gutman was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for 'exceptional service and leadership as Manager of the Land Cover Land Use Change Program and his innovative contribution to global change science'. For more than 20 years Dr. Gutman has led the LCLUC program to be innovative and inclusive. The program is unique within NASA, explicitly combining remote sensing and social science. The innovations that Garik has brought to the program include: the two-step proposal review; the development of the Global Land Survey Landsat-based datasets partnering with USGS; the incorporation of Multi-Source Land Imaging (MuSLI) component in the LCLUC program; the Early Career Scientist funding opportunities; and most recently the LCLUC Hotspot focus. He has made LCLUC a truly global program, establishing and supporting regional initiatives in Northern Eurasia (NEESPI) and South/Southeast Asia (SARI) and involving regional scientists in LCLUC projects. He has been a major supporter of the Global Observations of Forest Cover and Land-use Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) program and has fostered cooperation with Space Agencies and research institutions around the World, to enhance capacity building activities and promote NASA data, methods and products, in partnership with the international START program, NASA-USAID SERVIR, regional institutions and national space agencies. 

Eleanor (Kellie) Stokes receives Kuno Award

Dr. Eleanor (Kellie) Stokes (LCLUC PI) was recently announced as the winner of the S&R Foundation 2022 Kuno Award for Applied Science for the Social Good. At the Universities Space Research Association, Dr. Stokes leads the Earth from Space Institute and has been widely recognized as a scientist who is proactive and passionate about the value of geospatial technology to the economy and society. The award, which includes $100,000 in funding, supports early- to mid-career women who are social innovators focused on addressing modern challenges. It supports the translation of scientific research to a practical real-world solution for those aiming to achieve measurable social impact.

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Peilei Fan elected as the next President of the International Association of Landscape Ecology (2023-2027)

NASA LCLUC is proud to announce that LCLUC PI Dr. Peilie Fan has been elected as the next President of the International Association of Landscape Ecology (2023-2027) (, a worldwide organization for landscape ecologists with >1200 members and 28 national/regional chapters. Dr. Peilei served as the Secretary-General for IALE in the past 4 years (2019-2023).

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NASA's Role in Advancing Earth's Well-being: Dr. Gutman's Visit to Central and Eastern Europe Under the Embassy Science Fellowship Program

Dr. Garik Gutman recently visited Central and Eastern Europe to meet with researchers and academics in the region. He started his tour in Budapest, where the hub for regional space-related activities is located. Dr. Gutman gave talks on the water-energy-food nexus and recent NASA Earth Observation missions at several institutions in the region, which included Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Czechia and Austria. He also had an opportunity to learn about the achievements of regional experts in the field of Earth’s Remote Sensing. He was welcomed in Budapest by the Ambassador of the United States to Hungary, David Pressman, who emphasized in his speech the pivotal role of NASA's research in driving positive changes for the well-being of our planet. Pressman highlighted that NASA's contributions extend beyond space missions, shedding light on the agency's crucial involvement in Earth observation and its impact on various aspects of life, including weather forecasting, crop estimation, natural resource management, and mitigating natural disasters. The Ambassador reminded that, according to a recently published research, Hungary experienced a 3% loss in its GDP due to drought-related crop losses in 2022, emphasizing the relevance of advanced agricultural technology and land observation techniques for water efficiency and food production. The Ambassador’s speech was followed by Dr. Gutman’s remarks on NASA’s vision, mission, and achievements in studying the relationship between the earth’s surface and the climate. He emphasized the importance of international partnerships, particularly those between NASA and European institutions and space agencies. He also mentioned NASA’s initiative on Open Source Science. The focus of the activities in the program, Dr. Gutman manages, is on how remote sensing from space can help in detecting and monitoring land-cover and land-use changes, such as the exploitation of forests, changing agriculture and urbanization, and understanding the consequences and the drivers of these processes. He visited esteemed institutions, such as Eötvös Loránd University and the Lechner Knowledge Center in Budapest, and the Óbuda University in Székesfehérvár, before continuing his lecture tour to the Babes-Boyai University in Cluj (Romania), University of Belgrade (Serbia), CzechGlobe and Mazaryk University in Brno (Czechia), and IIASA and Technical University of Vienna (Austria). Dr. Gutman's visit and expertise were acknowledged and highlighted in multiple newspapers in Hungary, as well as on the website of the US Embassy of Hungary. Read More

Nick Magliocca and Alexander Prishchepov appointed to the

GLP Scientific Steering Committee

Congratulations to LCLUC members Alexander Prishchepov and Nick Magliocca for being appointed to the GLP Scientific Steering Committee (GLP-SSC). The Global Land Programme (GLP)—a Future Earth Global Research Network, brings together more than 2,300 international land scientists to advance related research and activities. Prishchepov and Magliocca are joined by Ximena Rueda, Le Yu, and Thuy Thu Pham.  GLP’s SSC contributes to the implementation of research to advance sustainability transformations worldwide and is responsible for setting the research agenda, building the community of land system science, and synthesizing scientific insights, while working to communicate understanding of key land system issues at the interface of science and society. In Feb 2023 the GLP International Programme Office moved to to its new home in the University of Maryland Department of Geographical Sciences. GLP looks forward to expanding its presence in the Americas and to collaborating more deeply with partners of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), importantly among them the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Program. 

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Recent Solicitations

- ROSES GLOBE-2023 Solicitations  Find More

- ROSES LCLUC-2023 Solicitations Find More

Journal Special Issues

Special Issue "Remote Sensing of Land Cover Change, Degradation, and Impacts on Environment in South/Southeast Asia"

The major causes of land-cover change (LCC) and degradation in several Asian countries are the rapid increase in population and economic development. Inappropriate land-use systems and land-tenure policies are further importance causes of land degradation. Due to its synoptic, multi-temporal, multi-spectral and repetitive coverage capabilities, remote sensing can be effectively used to quantify LCC degradation and associated impacts. Furthermore, in South/Southeast Asian countries, there is an increasing need to develop consistent regional LUCC products useful for environmental impact assessment and policymaking. This Special Issue invites the submission of articles focusing on the LCC and degradation issues in the region and their impacts, integrating both remote sensing data and ground-based measurements. The articles can focus on:

  • Land-cover changes, degradation mapping and monitoring in different environments such as forests, farmlands, urban environments, woodlands, mountain environments, wetlands, etc.
  • The use of optical multispectral, hyperspectral, and LIDAR as well as thermal IR observations from satellites and airborne remote sensing assets for land-cover mapping and degradation assessment, including impacts.
  • Land-cover changes, degradation and associated impacts on environment, such as greenhouse gas emissions, loss of nutrients, air, water and soil pollution, etc.
  • Spatio-temporal data mining, data fusion, modeling and analysis of land-cover change, degradation and impact assessment studies.

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Special Issue: Remote Sensing for Dryland Sustainability

This special Issue intends to enrich our collective knowledge of remote sensing for dryland sustainability. Drylands are defined by scarcity of water and limited soil moisture, which account for 41% of the global terrestrial area and are home to a third of the global human population and half of the livestock. Global drylands encompass deserts, grasslands, savannahs, Mediterranean ecosystems, and even some forests. Drylands are shaped by low precipitation, droughts, and human activities, with climate change and intensified land use posing threats. Advances in technology, such as AI and Earth observation data, offer insights into dryland dynamics, including groundwater, biomass, and ecosystem services. Topics in the issue range from climate trends, food and water security, and SDGs progress to biodiversity and advanced sensing instruments. Find More

Special Issue "Land Cover and Land Use Change in Conflicted Societies" in Science of Remote Sensing

Political instability due to drastic shocks such as armed conflicts is prevalent in the world, and can strongly affect society and environment. Monitoring land cover and land use change (LCLUC) amid the conflicts is vital for providing humanitarian aids for food security and post-conflict planning. The recent proliferation of very-high resolution, high frequency, and multi-modal remote sensing data sets from public and private sectors has opened new opportunities in land change monitoring in the conflicted area, where remote sensing is often the only means for information collection. This special issue calls for the latest research on understanding the impacts of LCLUC caused by armed conflicts and political instability. We welcome papers that focusing on changes in agriculture, forest, grassland, urban environments, as well as population displacement in the regions that experienced armed conflicts and political instability. Papers on conflict-induced LCLUC with a direct or indirect link to climate change are also welcome. Find More

LCLUC Webinars

Agriculture Hotspots - LCLUC Webinar Series

Forest Hotspots - LCLUC Webinar Series

Recent And Upcoming Missions And Data

Green Transition Information Factory (GTIF)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched the Green Transition Information Factory (GTIF) that allows users to interactively discover the underlying opportunities and complexities of transitioning to carbon neutrality by 2050 using the power of Earth Observation, cloud-computing and cutting-edge analytics. The cloud-based integrated GTIF environment enables:

  1. Decision-makers to assess and monitor the effectiveness of policies, and evaluate political objectives and outcomes using GTIF-provided data, indicators and interactive exploration tools.
  2. Industry to develop novel solutions to foster the Green Economy, supported by space technologies, and connect to relevant national and international stakeholders within the wider GTIF ecosystem.
  3. Citizens to engage and understand the needs for their actions through interactive exploration tools and captivating scientific narratives across key Green Transition domains.

 Learn more


The NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) is a joint project between NASA and ISRO, with contributions from other agencies and organizations in the US and India. The NISAR mission will measure Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses providing information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater, and will support a host of other applications. NISAR will observe Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces globally with 12-day regularity on ascending and descending passes, sampling Earth on average every 6 days for a baseline 3-year mission. NISAR will use a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) instrument to capture radar images of the Earth's surface. SAR technology allows for high-resolution imaging regardless of weather conditions or time of day. NISAR will also use a dual-frequency radar system, which will provide additional information about the Earth's surface and subsurface properties. The data collected by NISAR will be freely available to researchers, scientists, and other users around the world. This will allow for a wide range of applications, from scientific research to practical applications such as land use planning and disaster response. NISAR is expected to launch in early 2024.

 Learn more

Recent and Upcoming Meetings

2024 NASA LCLUC Science Team Meeting

Rockville, MD, USA

04/02/2024 to 04/04/2024

2023 NASA LCLUC Science Team Meeting &

Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems (CC&E) Joint Science Workshop (JSW) 

College Park, MD, USA

05/08/2023 to 05/12/2023

NASA’s Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems (CC&E) focus area hosted the Joint Science Workshop (JSW) on May 8-12, 2023 at The Hotel in College Park, MD. The first two days (May 8-9) were LCLUC meeting with an emphasis on the early career scientists’ projects. Next two days were joint meeting with other NASA Earth Science programs of the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Focus Area at plenary sessions .

NASA’s CC&E focus area is an umbrella under which four program elements (Land-Cover and Land-Use Change, Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry, Terrestrial Ecology, and Biological Diversity) provide knowledge of the interactions of global biogeochemical cycles and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with global environmental change and the implications for Earth's climate, productivity, and natural resources. This event aimed to combine input from community members across the CC&E programs and their Applied Sciences counterpart, the Ecological Forecasting program.

JSW Plenary talks addressed five themes:

  1. Future Research Directions
  2. Human Influence on Global Ecosystems
  3. Climate Change Impacts
  4. Research to Applications
  5. Disturbance, Resilience, Mitigation, & Adaptation.

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Featured Publications

Effects of forest degradation classification on the uncertainty of aboveground carbon estimates in the Amazon

Ekena Rangel Pinagé, Michael Keller, Christopher P. Peck, Marcos Longo, Paul Duffy & Ovidiu Csillik  

Carbon Balance and Management 18, Article number: 2 (2023)

In this study, researchers used textural metrics from PlanetScope images to create a probabilistic classification system for identifying intact, logged, and burned forests in the Amazon. Their classification achieved an overall accuracy of 0.86, varying by site. They estimated biomass changes for these forest classes using lidar, revealing variable changes in logged forests and an average 35% carbon loss in burned forests. Importantly, the study highlights that accounting for uncertainty in forest degradation classification is essential, as it significantly affects carbon density estimates. This approach combines high-resolution imagery with lidar data to attribute carbon stock changes to specific degradation pathways, aiding greenhouse gas inventories.Read more

On the Geomorphic, Meteorological, and Hydroclimatic Drivers of the Unusual 2018 Early Summer Salt Dust Storms in Central Asia

Xin Xi, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Volume128, Issue10

The desiccation of Aral Sea was one of the worst man-made ecological catastrophes in modern history. Wind-driven deflation of salt-rich dust from the newly formed Aralkum desert poses an important threat to the region's ecological environment and public health. In the early summer of 2018, a sequence of salt dust storms from Aralkum and surrounding areas caused flight cancellation, widespread haze, and salt deposition on croplands. This study describes the geomorphic, meteorological, and hydroclimatic factors responsible for the unusual dust activity. Results show that the dust outbreaks were triggered by recurrent cold air invasion from high latitudes in association with a strong high pressure system over western Russia and slow-moving planetary waves in the upper troposphere. The intense dust storms were also favored by drought conditions during the 2018 early growing season, as a result of decreased precipitation in the prior winter.Read more

Detecting subpixel human settlements in mountains using deep learning: A case of the Hindu Kush Himalaya 1990–2020

Tzu-Hsin Karen Chen, Bhartendu Pandey, Karen C. Seto 

Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 294, August 2023, 113635


  • CNN regression successfully detects subpixel small settlements in mountains.
  • We reveal two times more built-up areas in the Himalayas than existing estimates.
  • CNN substantially improves mountain settlement mapping compared to RF.
  • Temporal features (CCDC) did not improve mountain settlement mapping due to clouds.
  • CNN generates time series and captures urban growth in mountains.

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The global wildland–urban interface

Franz Schug, Avi Bar-Massada, Amanda R. Carlson, Heather Cox, Todd J. Hawbaker, David Helmers,

Patrick Hostert, Dominik Kaim, Neda K. Kasraee, Sebastián Martinuzzi, Miranda H. Mockrin,

Kira A. Pfoch & Volker C. Radeloff, Nature, May 2023

The wildland–urban interface (WUI) is where buildings and wildland vegetation meet or intermingle. It is where human–environmental conflicts and risks can be concentrated, including the loss of houses and lives to wildfire, habitat loss and fragmentation and the spread of zoonotic diseases. However, a global analysis of the WUI has been lacking. Here, we present a global map of the 2020 WUI at 10 m resolution using a globally consistent and validated approach based on remote sensing-derived datasets of building area and wildland vegetation. We show that the WUI is a global phenomenon, identify many previously undocumented WUI hotspots and highlight the wide range of population density, land cover types and biomass levels in different parts of the global WUI. The WUI covers only 4.7% of the land surface but is home to nearly half its population (3.5 billion). The WUI is especially widespread in Europe (15% of the land area) and the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome (18%). Of all people living near 2003–2020 wildfires (0.4 billion), two-thirds have their home in the WUI, most of them in Africa (150 million). Given that wildfire activity is predicted to increase because of climate change in many regions, there is a need to understand housing growth and vegetation patterns as drivers of WUI change.

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Shape from spectra

Nimrod Carmon, Alexander Berk, Niklas Bohn, Phillip G. Brodrick, Jeff Dozier, Margaret Johnson, Charles E. Miller, David R. Thompson, Michael Turmon, Charles M. Bachmann, Robert O. Green, Regina Eckert, Elliott Liggett, Hai Nguyen, Francisco Ochoa, Gregory S. Okin, Rory Samuels, David Schimel, Joon Jin Song, Jouni Susiluoto

Remote Sensing of Environment,Volume 288, 2023,113497


  • We present the first demonstration of topographic variables retrieval from radiance.
  • The approach solves for topographic effects within an atmospheric correction algorithm.
  • The main advantage is perfect spatial and temporal alignment with the radiance.
  • Validation experiments demonstrated comparable accuracy to high-resolution lidar.
  • Results suggests redefinition of the remote-sensing reflectance scale.

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