Sigma Xi Publications



American Scientist

A Path to Change: How can climate data be turned into widespread action?

Remote sensing satellites make it possible to study the Earth in new ways, such as by documenting changes to the planet over time, including changes in climate. These space-based pictures have led to scientific discoveries, but the U.S. Geological Survey, which runs the Landsat program, also produces images for educational and reference purposes. Here, scientists enhanced a portion of a Landsat 8 image to show the patterns of tropical vegetation, sediment, and nutrients at an estuary in northwestern Australia. This kind of top-down dissemination of knowledge can be traced to remote sensing’s military origins in technologies designed to provide decision-makers with information on enemy whereabouts. In “How Climate Science Could Lead to Action” (pages 34–41), Samantha Jo Fried describes this history and explains how rethinking the relationship to remote-sensing satellites could prompt more public engagement in addressing climate change. (Cover image produced by Geoscience Australia, a Landsat Science Team Member; courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.)

January–February 2020

Sigma Xi Publications