Earthshots: Satellite images of environmental change - Phoenix, Arizona, USA




Earthshots introduces remote sensing by showing examples of how environmental changes look from space.

Phoenix, Arizona, and its suburbs are growing rapidly, both in population and area. Landsat images show striking changes in the Phoenix metropolitan area in only a few decades. The most noticeable change is residential areas spreading over agricultural fields, which are shown in the images as bright red squares and rectangles. But in other areas, the urban growth expands over what was once bare desert.

New residents and tourists are attracted to Phoenix by the warm weather and abundant sunshine. Phoenix has maintained rapid and sustained growth, and its location in a wide valley allows neighborhoods to be built with houses that can have a lot of space around them. From 1970 to 2014, the population of the Phoenix metropolitan area grew by about 364 percent.

Phoenix doesn’t have many cloudy days, so it’s perfect for studying urban growth with satellite images. Scientists and city planners study population growth and urban expansion in fast-growing cities like Phoenix to determine the changes that have occurred over time and to see how those changes impact the surrounding environment, affect the availability of natural resources such as water, and alter the landscape and how it’s used. That information can help people plan for future changes as cities continue to grow.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Dataset
Publication Subtype Website
Title Earthshots: Satellite images of environmental change - Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description HTML Document
Country United States
State Arizona
City Phoenix
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N