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Characterization of the Urban landscape Using Landsat-Derived Land Cover, Census, GIRAS and DLG data

Curtis V. Price U.S. Geological Survey, 1608 Mt. View Road, Rapid City SD 57702, USA
Phone (605) 355-4560 ext. 242, Telecopier (605) 355-4523, cprice@usgs.gov


The U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program requires land use and land cover information for studies of ground and surface-water quality in urban areas throughout the Nation. Urban land use and land cover data are needed to design well sampling networks, examine relations between land use types and occurrence of specific compounds in ground water, and to develop predictive models of water quality based on landscape characteristics. Identifying areas of urban growth is of particular interest.

NAWQA studies have used 1:250,000-scale land use and land cover information collected by the USGS from aerial photography in the early 1970's (GIRAS-format data). Techniques have been developed to locate areas with urban growth by overlaying the GIRAS data with 1990 Census block-group polygons. This method has been useful for NAWQA studies to update boundaries of urbanized areas.

Through the MLRC initiative, NAWQA has also obtained Landsat-derived land cover data. NAWQA has received more than 300 geocorrected and clustered Landsat Thematic Mapper scenes. These are being interpreted into land cover classes and used for synoptic description of land cover in each study unit.

A method is being developed to create an urban land use and land cover data set (based on the Anderson Level II scheme) by combining Landsat-derived land cover with GIRAS, USGS 1:100,000-scale DLG-format transportation data, and Census STF3A block-group level demographic and housing data. The procedure combines the spatial detail of the Landsat classification with the attribute detail of the ancillary data. The method can be applied in all 60 NAWQA studies, as the data sets used are in the public domain and available nationwide. The methods are being tested for a current NAWQA urban land use study near Tacoma, Washington.

Presented:

1996, Pecora thirteen--human interactions with the environment; perspective from space: U.S. Geological Survey, Eros Data Center, Sioux Falls, So. Dak.

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