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The indigenous peoples of Latin America are facing serious problems caused by the large-scale deforestation of the rain forests. The false-colour image of Bolivia is representative of this issue. Losing their living environment, which was once used sustainably, indigenous peoples are increasingly marginalised and forced to live in poverty. Tropical rain forests are particularly sensitive to outside influences because they are drawing all of their potential from the natural cycles of materials because their ground is lacking nutrient stores. The exploitation of the grounds is followed by the abandonment of the fields leaving huge scars in the landscape. Sadly, the once so rich diversity of species will probably be lost forever.


Location: Bolivia
Picture taken on August 9, 2002
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: IR/G/B

USGS; Link:

The volcano Mount Taranaki in Egmont National Park on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island is currently dormant. Mount Taranaki is located in an area with heavy precipitation and a mild maritime climate. In this image, the peak of the almost perfectly symmetrical stratovulcano is covered with snow. Due to the radial limitation of the nature reserve surrounding the volcanic crater, the land-cover pattern is striking. The extensive rain forest in the surroundings of the volcano contrasts with the neighbouring farmland.


Location: New Zealand’s North Island
Picture taken on May 27, 2001
Sensor: Terra ASTER




These images show the hills in the north of Teresópolis, Brazil, on May 24, 2010 and on February 2, 2011. In January 2011, a series of devastating landslides occurred, claiming the lives of 860 people. In the image on the right-hand side, the light brown stripes indicate the mudslides. This natural disaster was caused by the construction of favelas in steep terrain: In order to build the settlements, many trees were cut down whose roots had been ensuring the stability of the ground. What is more, the ground could not absorb enough water to prevent the heavy rainfall from resulting in mudslides.


Location: Teresópolis, Brazil
Pictures taken on May 24, 2010 and February 2, 2011
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI





NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link:

Approximately 80 per cent of the global water consumption can be ascribed to irrigation farming. In this false-colour image from above Kansas, red stands for healthy vegetation while farmland sticks out due to its conventional and circular irrigation. The so-called centre-pivot irrigation is common in dry areas with a large land-use management. Its characteristic shape is clearly visible from space.


Location: Kansas, USA
Picture taken on September 26, 2010
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: Vis/NIR

USGS; Link:

This satellite image shows an area in the north of the Chinese province Shanxi. The blanket of snow reflects the low sun and highlights a part of the Great Wall of China which crosses the picture as a diagonal line. Also called the “Great Wall”, this famous landmark is more than 2000 years old and was built during a period of 1000 years. It is 7240 km long and stretches from Korea to the Gobi Desert. The Great Wall of China was erected in order to protect China against attacks from the north.


Location: Shanxi, China
Picture taken on January 9, 2001
Sensor: Terra ASTER





In this image, you can see one of the largest iron ore mines worldwide: the Carajás Mine. In the Carajás Mine, minerals are being removed from the surface layer by layer. In 2007, 296 million tons of iron ore were extracted. The Carajás Mine is estimated to hold approximately 18 billion tons of iron ore, gold, manganese, copper and nickel. In this image, the contrast between the red earth of the surface mining and the surrounding rain forest is striking. On the periphery of the image, you can see that rain forest has been cleared in favour of cultivated land.


Location: Para, Brazil
Picture taken on July 26, 2009
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI

NASA (Jesse Allen); Link:

Along highway 20 from Idaho Falls heading toward Yellowstone National Park, green and golden fields dominate the fertile plain of the Snake River. The circular areas indicate extensively irrigated farmland. The white dunes developed towards the end of the last ice age approximately 10 000 years ago when the global climate started to become warmer and drier. Lakes and rivers dried up leaving fine sand behind. Continuous winds from the south west blew the sand in northeasterly direction, passing lava fields which are quite dark in the picture.


Location: Idaho, USA
Picture taken on September 9, 2010
Sensor: EO-1 – ALI
Band combination: R/ G/ B


NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link:

North of the Iraqi city of Al-Basrah bordering on Iran, a former swamp has been drained. Today, this area is used for military training.


Location: Iraq, Al-Basrah
Picture taken on January 24, 2001
Sensor: Landsat ETM+
Band combination: IR/ G/ B


The city of Gandoman is located south of Isfahan in the arid area of mountainous Iran. At the foot of the mountain, there is a lot of irrigation farming alongside a river in the flat plains. Green areas are covered with vegetation, and shades of earthly brown indicate uncultivated land. The dark brown triangle in the middle of the picture signals wetland. The fan-shaped structure of the cultivated land spreading out at the bottom of the steep hills on fertile alluvial fans clearly sticks out


Location: Gandoman, Iran
Picture taken on September 30, 2010
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI.


NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link:

This false colour image shows farms alongside the Buffalo River in the US state Minnesota. Among other things, the term “precision farming” refers to the monitoring of plant health with the help of satellite images. Due to the depiction in the infrared spectrum, the farmers are provided with a lot of information about their fields.
Yellow areas indicate cultures that have been attacked by vermin, shades of red stand for healthy vegetation and black signals that there is too much water in the ground. What is more, weeds and hail damage can be detected by means of remote sensing as well.


Location: Minnesota, USA

Picture taken on September 10, 2009

Sensor: Landsat 5 – TM

Band combination: G/ R/ NIR



NASA (Jesse Allen); USGS; Link:

This image shows an area in North Rhine-Westphalia spanning 30x36 km. The numerous rectangular areas depict agricultural plains. Bright shades of green signal plant growth, dark shades of green stand for forests and shades of grey indicate bare ground. Settlements are characterised by the accumulation of blue and grey pixels connected by thin lines (streets). The three large areas standing out due to their bright white and dark blue colour are the three big lignite surface mines in Garzweiler, Hambach and Inden.


Location: North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Picture taken on August 28, 2000
Sensor: Terra ASTER