Gold University of Minnesota M. Skip to main content.University of Minnesota. Home page.
Home > Research > Landscape Monitoring and Analysis > Impervious Surface Mapping

Impervious Surface Mapping

Like many cities across the United States, the landscape of Eagan, Minnesota is changing. Residents are building new homes and the city is laying more roads and sidewalks. The result is a city landscape dominated by pavement, concrete and rooftops.

Research suggests that these man-made, impervious surfaces - which include sidewalks, driveways, rooftops and parking lots - are largely responsible for decreasing water quality, fish populations and groundwater reserves, and increasing the likelihood of habitat fragmentation, flooding and urban heat island effects. For this reason, environmental analysts often examine the amount of impervious surface in an area by referencing maps of impervious surface derived from aerial photographs or ground surveys.

With satellite imagery available that is comparable in detail and increasingly affordable, the RSL has worked in collaboration with the Metropolitan Council of Minnesota to develop impervious surface maps for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area (TCMA) based on satellite data. The TCMA totals about 3,000 square miles and comprises seven counties with a diversity of land cover classes including high and low density urban areas, small towns, cropland, forests and wetlands. To date, RSL analysts have used two types of satellite imagery - moderate-resolution Landsate TM data (30-meter pixels) and high-resolution IKONOS data (4-meter pixels).

Digital imagery captured from sensors on earth observing satellites, such as Landsat 5 or IKONOS-2, can offer the following advantages:

  • Synoptic coverage of small or large geographic areas

  • Land cover maps generated at considerably less cost

  • A digital format compatible with Geographic Information Systems

Satellite-based Approach to Impervious Surface Mapping >>

Land Cover Classification and Change Classification

Impervious Surface Mapping

Minnesota Statewide Land Cover Classification

Temporal Analysis of Vegetation Cover


In this section...

Satellite-based Approach to Impervious Surface Mapping

The Value of an Integrated Approach