The rapid development of satellite technology, especially in the area of radio transmission and imaging systems, makes it possible to monitor dynamic surface phenomena of the Earth in considerable detail. The monitoring systems that have been developed are compatible with standard monitoring systems such as snow, stream, and rain gages; wind, temperature and humidity measuring instruments; tiltmeters and seismic event counters. Supported by appropriate power, radios and antennae, remote stations can be left unattended for at least 1 year and consistently relay local information via polar orbiting or geostationary satellites. These data, in conjunction with timely Landsat images, can provide a basis for more accurate estimates on snowfall, water runoff, reservoir level changes, flooding, drought effects, and vegetation trends and may be of help in forecasting volcanic eruptions. These types of information are critical for resource inventory and development, especially in developing countries where remote regions are commonly difficult to access.
This paper introduces the reader to the systems available, describes their features and limitations, and provides suggestions on how to employ them. An extensive bibliography is provided for those who wish more information.