Lucas Ward, assistant professor and program coordinator, environmental management and policy, 406.238.7277,
RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105, 

Student analyses use remote sensing to offer planners new perspectives

BILLINGS, March 21, 2014 – Students in Lucas Ward’s Remote Sensing class at Rocky Mountain College present their analyses of the last 20 years of Billings’ land cover change at the largest Geographic Information Systems (GIS) community event in Montana, a weeklong conference of the Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals (MAGIP), in Billings Thursday, April 10.

Students' investigations may help people from public, private, and governmental sectors to learn more about how data from LandSat satellites can offer fresh perspectives for community and natural resource planning and management, Ward said. In an 11:30 a.m. session on Thursday, his students offer a group analysis of two remote sensing studies they conducted: perspectives on landcover change in Billings from 1984 to 2013, and impacts of the 2013 Alum fire in Yellowstone National Park.

In addition to findings from each study, the students’ presentation will compare the results of different remote sensing techniques using ESRI's ArcMap software, including supervised and unsupervised image classification, vegetation change analysis, and burn severity analysis. They will also discuss how the choice of classification techniques affects results and interpretation. RMC student presenters include Simone Durney, Brad Ruff, Brent Brumfield, Magnus Sigurkarlsson, and Emma Burns.

Ward said, “This is a very strong group of students. I’ve been impressed with their capacity to work together to solve problems and make sense of some pretty complex analytical techniques. I’m excited for them to contribute to the MAGIP.”

“The conference is a great opportunity for the students to network with GIS professionals and perhaps meet a future collaborator,” Ward said. “The students and I look forward to the opportunity to develop relationships with local groups and individuals interested in working with remote sensing students to examine patterns of regional landscape change.”