While many studies have used visualizations to simulate natural landscapes, little work has been done to investigate their potential for illustrating land cover change using temporal data acquired from the real world. Using a combined approach of remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) and visualization techniques, this project demonstrates the potential of realistic computer visualizations for depicting the dynamic nature of forested environments. High-resolution digital imagery and aerial photography were classified using object-oriented methods. The resulting classifications, along with pre-existing land cover datasets, were used to drive the placement of vegetation in the visualized landscape, providing a more accurate representation of reality at various points in time. 3D Nature's Visual Nature Studio™ was used to construct a variety of visualizations showing natural and human-driven forest cover change in two different ecological settings. Visualizations from Yellowstone National Park focused on the dramatic effects of the 1988 fires upon the lodgepole pine forest. In Kansas, visualization techniques were used to explore the continuous human-land interactions between 1941 and 2002 impacting the eastern deciduous forest and tallgrass prairie ecotone in the Midland, Kansas United States Geological Survey (USGS) quadrangle. The stills and animations created demonstrate the flexibility and effectiveness of visualizations for representing patterns that change in both space and time, such as forest cover. Geovisualizations allow users such as researchers, resource managers and the public to communicate findings and explore new hypotheses in a clear, concise and visually intuitive manner.

This project was conducted at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) Program (Edward A. Martinko, Director). The Yellowstone National Park research described in this paper was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Science Enterprise Food and Fiber Applications of Remote Sensing (FFARS). The work in Northeastern Kansas was funded by the NASA Carbon Sequestration Program - Forest Cover Change Project. The Principal Investigator for both projects is Dr. Mark Jakubauskas and the visualization effort has been supported by Dr. Jerome Dobson, both of whom are at the KARS Program and the University of Kansas Geography Department.

About the Authors
Matt Dunbar is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing Program in the Geography Department at the University of Kansas. (Website)

L. Monika Moskal is an Assistant Professor of Remote Sensing and Biospatial Analysis in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. (Website)

Mark Jakubauskas is an Assistant Research Professor in the KARS Program and is a Courtesy Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Kansas.(Website)

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While the primary focus of this site is forest cover visualizations, you will also find media from several other ongoing visualization studies.



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