Earth  ID: 4399

A Quarter Century US Forest Disturbance History from Landsat – the NAFD-NEX Products

The North American Forest Dynamics (NAFD) study provides annual maps of forest disturbance in the conterminous United States, from 1986-2010. Using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat satellite program, the NAFD study produces maps at a spatial resolution of 30-meters. Spanning the 25 years of the study required 26,142 Landsat images and the use of the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) supercomputing facility. Each annual map has classified pixels showing water, no forest cover, forest cover, no data available (data gaps) in present year, and forest disturbances that occurred in that year.

Forest disturbance, in this study, refers to any removal or loss of the forest canopy. There were disturbances from natural causes, such as fires, insect outbreaks, hurricanes, tornadoes, and snow storms. There were also human-caused disturbances such as timber harvesting, urban development, and mining. Major timber harvest areas included the Southeast, the Pacific Northwest, and Maine. Extensive mountaintop mining was found in the Southern Appalachians, extending from Western Virginia to Tennessee. The eastern coast suffered substantial damages from hurricanes, while large scale damages from fire and insect outbreak were mostly in the western U.S.

This study is a core project of the North American Carbon Program (NACP), a multidisciplinary research program designed to obtain scientific understanding of North America’s carbon sources and sinks and quantify changes in carbon stocks. This information is being used to evaluate the role of forest disturbance in the North American carbon cycle, which will help meet societal concerns and provide tools for decision makers.

The NAFD (North American Forest Dynamics) study, a core project of the North American Carbon Program (NACP), was supported by grants from NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology, Carbon Cycle Sciences, and Applied Sciences Programs. The UMD group was supported under NASA Grant NNX11AJ78G S01. Associated NAFD-NEX activities have been carried out by Warren Cohen, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station (Product Validation), Jeffrey Masek, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Regrowth Dynamics), Gretchen Moisen, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station (Causal Factors Attribution) and Ramakrishna Nemani, NASA Ames Research Center (NEX computing).

Data Citation:
Goward, S.N., C. Huang, F. Zhao, K. Schleeweis, K. Rishmawi, M. Lindsey, J.L. Dungan, and A. Michaelis. 2015. NACP NAFD Project: Forest Disturbance History from Landsat, 1986-2010. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA.

Visualization Credits

Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Lead Visualizer
Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA): Producer
Jeffrey Masek (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Chengquan Huang (University of Maryland): Scientist
Feng Zhao (University of Maryland): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Short URL to share this page:


Data Used:
Landsat/North American Forest Dynamics
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

This item is part of this series:

DLESE >> Forestry
SVS >> Land Classification
SVS >> Landsat
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Terrestrial Ecosystems >> Forests
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Presentation

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version