Remote Sensing — Global and Local Views

  • John R. G. Townshend
Part of the Horizons in Geography book series (HOGE)


The rate at which data about the biophysical environment are collected from satellites now exceeds that from ground level. Satellite sensors already gather data about the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and continents, and in the next ten years the number of satellites, the sophistication of their sensors and the proficiency with which their data are analysed will increase dramatically. But why are satellites so useful in gathering data? What are the benefits to be gained from taking this distant view of the environment? Most satellites fly in orbits more than 500 km from the Earth’s surface and those in geostationary orbit are more than 20000 km from the Earth’s surface. The outstanding benefits of this distant view relate to the overview of the resultant images, which provides us with reliable internally consistent data of large areas almost instantaneously. Moreover, the same area can be imaged regularly, which permits us not only to obtain base-line data but also to monitor the dynamic components of the Earth’s surface for the first time.


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Further Reading

  1. A revised edition of a very successful introduction to both principles and applications isGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett E. C. and Curtis, L. F. (1982) Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing (London: Chapman and Hall).Google Scholar
  3. For a readable up-to-date account with an emphasis on principles rather than applications, seeGoogle Scholar
  4. Curran P. J. (1985) Principles of remote sensing (London and New York: Longman).Google Scholar
  5. Two collections of essays focusing on the principles and applications of remote sensing of the land surface and of meteorology and climatology respectively areGoogle Scholar
  6. Townshend J. R. G. (1981) Terrain Analysis and Remote Sensing (London: Allen & Unwin).Google Scholar
  7. Henderson-Sellers A. (1984) Satellite Sensing of a Cloudy Atmosphere: Observing the Third Planet (London: Taylor & Francis).Google Scholar
  8. The remaining references assume a more practical and detailed interest in the subject. The first is a do-it-yourself introduction (at a price), whilst the second is a useful introduction to digital image processing requiring only a modest level of mathematical abilityGoogle Scholar
  9. Short N. M. (1982) The Landsat Tutorial Workbook (Washington DC.: NASA).Google Scholar
  10. Schowengerdt R. A. (1983) Techniques for Image Processing and Classification in Remote Sensing (London: Academic Press).Google Scholar
  11. Finally, a large compendium of principles and applications which is, perhaps, beyond the needs of the average reader but has become the standard reference source isGoogle Scholar
  12. Colwell, R. N. (1983) Manual of Remote Sensing, 2 vols (Falls Church VA: American Society of Photogrammetry).Google Scholar

References cited in figures

  1. Allan J. A. 1984. ‘The role and future of remote sensing. Satellite remote sens-ing-review and preview’, Proceedings 10th Anniversary International Conference, Remote Sensing Society, Reading, pp. 23–30.Google Scholar
  2. Justice C. O., Townshend J. R. G., Holben B. N. and Tucker C. J. 1985. ‘Analysis of the phenology of global vegetation using meteorological satellite data’, Int. J. Remote Sensing, 6, pp. 1271–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hardy J. R. 1981. ‘Data collection by remote sensing for land resources survey’, in Townshend J. R. G. (ed.) Terrain Analysis and Remote Sensing (London: Allen & Unwin) pp. 16–37.Google Scholar
  4. Markham B. L. and Townshend J. R. G. 1981. ‘Land cover classification as a function of sensor spatial resolution’, Proc. Int. Symp. Remote Sens. Environ., 15th, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1075–1090.Google Scholar
  5. Sadowski F. A. and Sarno J. 1976. ‘Forest classification accuracy as influenced by multi-spectral scanner spatial resolution’. Report No. 109600-71F (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Environmental Research Institute).Google Scholar
  6. Thomson F. J., Erickson J. D., Nalepka R. F. and Weber F. 1974. ‘Final report multi-spectral scanner data applications evaluation’. Vol. 1. User applications study. Rep. No. 102800-40-1 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Environmental Research Institute Michigan).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John R. G. Townshend 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • John R. G. Townshend
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ReadingUK

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