Jump to main content.

Great Lakes Basin Vegetation Change Analysis


Principal Investigators: Curt Edmonds1, Ricardo Lopez1, Dan Heggem1, Taylor Jarnagin1, Deb Chaloud1, David Bolgrien2, John Schneider3, Barry Bolka4  and Bert Guindon5

  1. U.S. EPA, ORD, Las Vegas, NV, USA


  3. GLNPO

  4. Region 5/RMD/OIS

  5. Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing


Depict vegetation change in the Great Lakes Basin over a 20-year interval using Multispectral Scanner (MSS) satellite imagery available through the North American Landscape Characterization (NALC) Project. Vegetation change will be measured as the difference in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), calculated from decadal image mosaics.


The NALC project was initiated under the Global Climate Change program in 1993 for the purpose of providing a consistent database over multiple decades for use in assessment of landscape changes. The NALC database has been used in the Tensas River Basin (LA) and the Mid-Atlantic area to demonstrate that vegetation change can be measured over large geographic areas. However this research has revealed some correctable inadequacies in the NALC data and emphasizes the need for additional research in vegetation change and accuracy assessment. With the purchase of data for the Canadian side of the basin and the correction of data deficiencies on the U.S. side of the basin, this project will yield an analysis of the Great Lakes Basin a contiguous ecosystem. That product will facilitate additional focused studies of vegetation change in sub-watersheds throughout the basin.

In general, changes in the growth of vegetation in the Great Lakes Region is constrained by biophysical conditions (e.g., geology, temperature, and humidity). Research suggests that such changes in vegetation cover may be a consequence of global-scale climatic change. Therefore, vegetation change in the Great Lakes Basin may be a response to shifts in the global climate, including changes in land-cover type and vegetation cover. Such landscape changes, particularly in the short term, may be most pronounced at ecotone boundaries.



Currently, NALC datasets (a MSS image from the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's, and digital elevation data [DEM]) have been assembled for the entire U.S. To complete the vegetation change analysis for the entire Great Lakes Basin, imagery of the Canadian portion must be acquired. The Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing has offered the equivalent of 1990's imagery but it will be necessary to purchase 1970's imagery and DEMs.


November, 1999

December, 1999

March, 2000

May, 2000

March, 2001

September, 2001

ORD Home | NERL Home
ESD Home | LEB Home
Send questions or comments to ESD Info Desk. (Library-lv@epa.gov)

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.