Pathways Project
Up Close From Afar:
Using Remote Sensing To Teach The American Landscape

The National Council for Geographic Education has created a special publications series called PATHWAYS IN GEOGRAPHY which supports the teaching and learning of themes, concepts and skills in geography at all levels of instruction. Up Close From Afar was prepared by the Remote Sensing Task Force under the Pathways series and provides educators glimpses into the value of remote sensing. The six instructional units in Part I and the background essay in Part II lead students through an understanding of the basics of remote sensing and engage them in using images to interpret aspects of the physical and cultural geography of selected areas in the United States. Students will be able to discern the human imprint on the environment and the natural processes of environmental change in places as diverse as Death Valley and the Ridge and Valley region of Pennsylvania, the coal mines of Wyoming and the urban landscape of Boston.

This publication comes with a small slide set and 10 classroom sets of the 8 remotely sensed images presented in the publication. Cost $17.50 plus $2 postage and handling.

Below are .JPG files generated from the images in this publication. These files show only a portion of the geographic coverage of each image. Click on the thumbnail images to view larger resolution images.

This image covers the central Pennsylvania section of the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachians. The orange-rust colors identify the forest vegetation found on the plateaus and ridges and the tan and pale colors locate the intense agricultural and grasslands of the valleys. The image demonstrates the effects of fluvial erosion on rock layers that have been folded by continental collision. Although this image dramatically displays physical features, it also can be used to illustrate human-environmental interaction. When settlers encountered these parallel ridges and valleys on their way westward, they were funneled into the water and wind gaps made by streams flowing through the ridges and valleys. These natural breaks in the mountains provided settlers with an easier way to cross the many ridges and valleys. Many cities and town, shown in blue, are located near these water gaps today. The image file is 535K in size.

This image of east-central Kansas is a false-color composite image, similar to a false-color infrared photograph. Lush or green vegetation is bright red, native grasslands are light red to brown, urban areas or bare ground are light blue-gray, and clear water is deep blue or blue-green. The large metropolitan area of Kansas City is on the right edge of the image. The city is located at the confluence of the Missouri River flowing from the upper left (northeast) and the somewhat smaller Kansas River flowing from the left or west. The flood plains of these two rivers can be identified by the large, bright red color fields. Major roads and highways are visible as thin blue-gray lines, such as Interstate Highway 35 which angles northeast into Kansas City. A regular patchwork of smaller roads are scattered across the image. These roads generally follow the one-mile section lines which are the result of the range and township survey system. The image file is 389K in size.

This natural color composite image of south-central Wyoming shows an active strip mine operation. The strip mine appears at the right center edge of the image as straight black lines, bordered on both sides by white or light blue areas. The black lines identify the actual mining areas; whereas, the white or light blue border areas indicate the mining spoils or surface material which has been stripped to expose the underground coal deposit. The large black to dark blue area to the left of the mine is a stockpile of coal waiting to be loaded onto railroad cars. This image has been geometrically rectified and scaled to correspond to the U.S. Geological Survey, 1:24,000 scale map of Black Buttes, Wyoming. The grid lines on the image relate to the one-kilometer, Universal Transverse Mercator(UTM) coordinates. The image file is 190K in size.

This false-color image shows the Snake River Plain in south-central Idaho. The fertile farmland that occurs along the Snake River (cutting across the southern edge of the image) appears bright red. This area is known for its production of Idaho potatoes as well as other crops such as corn, beans, beets, alfalfa, barley, and wheat. Most agricultural activity requires irrigation because of the limited precipitation. The distinctive blue-black area in the northeast section of the image corresponds to the lava flow found in the Craters of the Moon National Monument. It is part of a recent lava flow which occurred 3,000-5,000 years ago. On this image, one must be careful when differentiating recent lava flows from water bodies because both are dark blue. The spatial patterns of the features should help in separating lava and water. The image file is 393K in size.

The distinct linear feature which angles across the image marks the border between the United States and Canada. Different land use practices in the two countries are apparent on this false-color image. This scene shows the differences between the land use of northern Montana and that of southern Alberta. The long rectangular strips of dark red and greyish-orange are agricultural fields. The fields in which wheat is actively growing are dark red. Fallow fields appear lighter in color although their shapes are the same. The cultivated area on this image is primarily restricted to the higher plains. Elevations increase from approximately 2500 feet in the east to about 3500 feet in the west. The image file is 209K in size.

This color infrared aerial photograph of Boston shows the heart of the city and Logan International Airport. The downtown area is located to the left, west of the airport and across the harbor. Close inspection of the downtown area reveals shadows created by a few of the taller buildings in the Government Center and Business District. The length and direction of the shadows indicate that the photo was taken in the early morning. One can also see the finger-like wharves which are visible along the edge of the harbor. Two large boats can be seen in the channel, one north of downtown and the other near the mouth of the harbor south of the airport. The light red or pink patches are open areas which are generally covered with grass. The deeper red areas with a mottled texture are trees of various species. The image file is 207K in size.

This image shows a vegetation-sparse terrain dominated by physical features indicative of Death Valley. Several alluvial fans can be seen which are the result of erosion along the steep scarp faces of the mountains. One large fan is easily identified on the east side of the image below Funeral and Black Mountains. The "stem" of this fan is Furnace Creek Wash which flows between these two mountain ranges. The large, red area situated on this fan is caused by human intervention. Furnace Creek has been channeled to provide irrigation water for agricultural purposes. Because this is a false color image, all vegetation on this image appear red. The large white features that appear on this image are salt pans. The huge alluvial fan on the west side of the image is more typical of Death Valley in that it has no vegetation. The image file is 108K in size.

For questions on how to order
Up Close From Afar, contact:
National Council for Geographic Education
16A Leonard Hall
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705

Phone: 412-357-7594
FAX: 412-357-7708

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