Wisconsin Geospatial News

Landsat timelapse of Wisconsin’s fastest growing city (and other ways to kill some time)

Interested in visualizing landscape change over time? Check out Google’s Earth Engine website, which allows you to navigate to any location on Earth and animate through a series of annual Landsat satellite composite images from 1984 to 2012.

Announced in 2013, the website is part of a collaborative project between Google, TIME, and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. The project makes use of decades of Landsat imagery collected by the US Geological Survey and NASA. Google sifted through some 2 million images — 909 TB of data in total — to find high-quality pixels for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. These pixels were then compiled into a series of yearly planetary images, each one containing 1.78 trillion pixels. CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University converted the images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation.

The Earth Engine website contains some dramatic examples of deforestation, glacier retreat, drying of lakes and seas, and urban expansion. Or, you can create your own examples, such as the one below of Wisconsin’s fastest growing city with over 50,000 people.

Animations can be shared as embedded “videos” (like the example above) or as a link to the Earth Engine website (like this one).

To quote one review of the website, good luck getting anything done for the rest of the day.

Wisconsin’s fastest growing city and more

For more interesting and suprising facts about Wisconsin’s population trends check out the Department of Administration’s Demographic Services Center (DSC) website. The DSC develops annual estimates and future projections of population for all Wisconsin towns, villages, and cities. DSC is also a US Census Bureau State Data Center, helping people acquire and use Census Bureau data.

The December 2013 DSC report entitled “Wisconsin’s Future Population Projections for the State, Its Counties and Municipalities, 2010-2040” — prepared by David Egan-Robertson at the UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory — is chock full of information, including the following facts and figures for the 2010-40 time period:

  • Wisconsin’s population in 2040 is projected to be nearly 6,500,000, a gain of more than 800,000 people over 2010.
  • Fifty-seven of Wisconsin’s 72 counties will have a population in 2040 that is higher than it was in 2010.
  • Saint Croix County is projected to be the fastest-growing county in percentage terms, increasing by 41% by 2040.
  • Calumet County—containing much of the suburban growth southeast of Appleton—is predicted to be the second-fastest growing county, increasing by 31% by 2040.
  • Dane County, projected to be the sixth largest gainer in percentage terms, is expected to experience the highest numeric growth in the state through 2040, adding almost 119,000 people.
  • The state’s largest city, Milwaukee, is projected to gradually gain population and reach a total of 627,400 in 2040.
  • The second largest city, Madison, is projected to have the largest numeric gain to reach a total of 281,150 in 2040.
  • Kenosha is expected to have the highest growth rate of all cities over 50,000 in population (at 23.6%) and will gain enough residents by 2020 to supplant Green Bay as the state’s third largest city.
  • Waukesha is predicted to surpass both Appleton and Racine to become the fifth largest city by 2030.

For other information about the state’s population, explore the DSC website, which includes annual population estimates, population projections, maps, and other resources detailing population and population trends for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and its 1800+ towns, cities, and villages.

Land cover mapping in Wisconsin

Mapping landscape change is an important impetus behind the WiscLand-2 project, a joint effort of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to update the current land cover map of the state. A new digital land cover map, created using Landsat imagery, will be available in 2016 to replace the current statewide map created using 1991-1993 data. For more information on this project see the WiscLand-2 project page


Citylab article on the Google Earth Engine website: http://www.citylab.com/tech/2013/05/terrifying-fascinating-timelapse-30-years-human-impact-earth-gifs/5540/

Google announcement: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-picture-of-earth-through-time.html

TIME Timelapse project: http://world.time.com/timelapse/

CREATE Lab: http://www.cmucreatelab.org/

Access to the Google Earth Engine website: https://earthengine.google.org/#intro

More examples: https://plus.google.com/photos/+GoogleEarth/albums/5875822979804092129

DOA DSC website: http://doa.wi.gov/Divisions/Intergovernmental-Relations/Demographic-Services-Center

DOA population trend report: http://www.doa.state.wi.us/documents/DIR/Demographic%20Services%20Center/Projections/FinalProjs2040_Publication.pdf

WiscLand-2 project page: http://www.sco.wisc.edu/projects/landcover.html