Human Impact on the Environment
Human actions can have a profound impact on the environment and topography of an area. Things like strip mining and open pit mining are pretty obvious when it comes to things that alter the face of the landscape, but others are more insidious- human actions can seriously influence the hydrological cycle, erosion, and more. Anything that changes how water flows over the land will affect the physical environment. Thing includes things like logging and land clearing- the roots of trees and brush help hold soil in place, protecting porous rock and preventing the soil from being washed away.
This geography quiz features ten satellite images each showing an anthropogenic activity. Can you figure out what the human activity shown on each image is? Some of these disturbances are recent while other images show the remains of human activity etched onto the surface of the earth dating back thousands of years.
Take the Quiz: Name the Man-made Feature Visible from Space
Learn More About the Satellite Imagery
1: What looks like thin lines etched in the sand are actually earthen mounds of access points for Qanats, underground water channels. More: What are Qanats?
2: Held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, Burning Man is an outdoor music festival. More: Top Satellite Image of 2012 – And the Winner is…
3: The border between Kazakhstan and China is a sharp contrast. In the Landsat image below, acquired on Setember 9, 2013, the border between northwestern China around the city of Qoqek and far eastern Kazakhstan near Lake Balqash shows the difference agriculture has on the landscape. More: Borders that are Visible on Satellite Imagery
4: The Nazca created these geoglyphs between 200 BCE and AD 600 by clearing away the dark red top soil and stone, leaving the pale underlying soil exposed. Since the plain where the lines are carved receives little rain or wind, the lines are still visible today. More: Nazca Lines, Peru
5: Two huge open pits intersected by spirals of roads stand at the center of Cerro Verde, an expansive copper and molybdenum mine in the desert of southwestern Peru.More: A Copper Megamine in South America
6: On November 19, 2015, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 satellite acquired the image at the top of the page—a burn scar in the Gibson Desert. The burn scar is light orange compared to the darker orange areas that have not burned recently. More: A Desert Landscape Scarred by Fire
7: The Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 captured this image of the Camp Springs Wind Farm in Scurry County, Texas, on April 29, 2015. More: Camp Springs Wind Farm
8: In the past decade, large-scale farm and ranch operators have cleared broad swaths of the chaco to make way for livestock and crops raised on an industrial scale. In fact, an analysis of data collected by several Landsat satellites suggests that Argentina’s chaco faces one of the fastest tropical deforestation rates in the world. More: Argentina’s Changing Chaco Forest
9: The grid patterns are truck tracks along seismic survey lines, showing where Occidental Petroleum Corporation explored this patch for oil in 2008. More: Seismic Surveying Grid in Libya
10: The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image of seaweed cultivation in the shallow waters around Sisan Island on January 31, 2014. Home to a thriving aquaculture industry, the south coast of South Korea produces about 90 percent of the country’s seaweed crop. More: Seaweed Farms in South Korea
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