Aircraft and satellite remote sensing of desert soils and landscapes

G. W. Petersen, K. F. Connors, D. A. Miller, R. L. Day, T. W. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The remote sensing of desert soils and landscapes using Thematic Mapper (TM), Heat Capacity Mapping Mission (HCMM), Simulated SPOT, and Thermal Infrared Multispectral Scanner (TIMS) data is discussed. These studies were all conducted in arid or semiarid study sites. Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data for southwestern Nevada discriminated among alluvial fan deposits with different degrees of desert pavement and varnish as well as different vegetation cover. Thermal-infrared data acquired from the Heat Capacity Mapping Mission (HCMM) satellite were used to map the spatial distribution of diurnal surface temperatures and to estimate mean annual soil temperatures in semiarid east central Utah using diurnal data for five dates throughout a year. Simulated SPOT data for northwestern New Mexico identified geomorphic features, such as differences in eolian sand cover and fluvial incision, which are correlated with surface age and geomorphic stability of landscape components. The Thermal Infrared Multispectral Scanner (TIMS), which is an aircraft scanner that provides six-channel spectral capability in the thermal region of the electromagnetic spectrum, was used to depict surface geologic features of the Saline Valley in southeastern California. These research projects are presented as a summary of some of the sensors and analytical techniques that are useful in the study of desert soils and landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-271
Number of pages19
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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