Canadian Forest Service Publications
Application of Landsat satellite imagery to monitor land-cover changes at the Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada. 2008. Gillanders, S.; Coops, N.C.; Wulder, M.A.; Goodwin, N.R. The Canadian Geographer 52(4): 466-485.
Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 29049
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A major advantage of satellite remote sensing is that the imagery acquired provides a synoptic view of the landscape. Thus, repeat coverage by the satellite on a regular basis permits the detection of changes in land-cover over time. This study demonstrates the application of remote sensing technology to the monitoring of mining activities at the Athabasca Oil Sands region of Alberta, Canada. First, we describe the techniques used to match a time sequence of Landsat imagery, both spatially and spectrally, to ensure that the spectral changes through time are due to land-cover variations. A series of spectral trajectories were then extracted to assess changes in land-cover through time. Secondly, a land-cover classification was produced from the baseline 1984 imagery and, using historic and future mine extents, the classification was analyzed to determine the proportion of each land-cover type affected through development. Results of the analysis indicate that since 1984 there has been a larger reduction in mixedwood dense and broadleaf vegetation classes than mixedwood sparse or dense conifer stands in the area. Based on the delineations of mine-site activity, the area of woodland and wetland habitat subject to development has increased from approximately 2,520 hectare (ha) in 1984 to 32,930 ha in 2005.