Part 2—Prepare and Examine Images

Step 1 –
Open Images in ImageJ

  1. Launch ImageJ by double-clicking its icon ImageJ Icon Small on your desktop (Mac or PC) or by clicking the icon in the dock (Mac) or the Start menu (PC).
  2. From ImageJ's menu bar, choose File > Open... then navigate to the folder where you stored the downloaded images from Part 1.
  3. Select pearl_river_10dec1988_542.jpg then click Open.
  4. Repeat the process with the remaining two files:
    • pearl_river_20jan1992_542.jpg
    • pearl_river_30dec1995_542.jpg

    Note: In order to produce a realistic animation, time series images must be opened in chronological order.

Step 2 –
Convert Images to a Stack and Save

Choose Image > Stacks > Images to Stacks then save the stack as a TIFF file.

  1. With the three separate images open in Image J, choose Image > Stacks > Images to Stack from the menu.

  2. This step creates a single window named "Stack" that shows just one image at a time. Each individual image is referred to as a "slice" in the stack. Keep the Name: Stack and click OK.

  3. Move between the three images using the controller or arrows at the bottom of the window.

  4. Choose File > Save As > TIFF...

  5. Select a place on your computer to store the stack (for instance, in your Documents folder, or in a folder named Pearl River), and give the stack a unique name such as Pearl River.tif.

Step 3 –
Explore the Images

Each image shows an area about 20 km wide by 15 km high in a traditional north is "up" orientation. In the images, vegetation appears in shades of green, water appears in shades of blue, and bare soil appears in shades of tan to light orange. Urbanized areas, covered by buildings and roads, appear off-white to pink.
  1. Examine different parts of the image to identify as many features as you can. Use color and shape clues to help you identify rivers, lakes, roads, rectangular fields, and harbor facilities in the image.
  2. Use the magnifying glass and scrolling tool (hand) to control the image display.
  3. annotated_tool-bar image J
    • To zoom in on the image, select the magnifying glass on the tool bar, then click any location on the image.
    • To zoom out, double-click the magnifying glass on the tool bar.
    • To scroll around the image while it is enlarged, select the scrolling tool (the hand) on the tool bar, then click and drag on the image.
    • To read the x,y location or the value of the pixel under your cursor, look just below the tools in the status bar.

    • To animate the stack of images, choose Image > Stacks > Tools > Start Animation. Choose Image > Stacks > Tools > Animation Options... to control the animation speed.
  4. When you are familiar with some of the features, use the animation control bar along the bottom of the stack to step back and forth between the three images to look for changes over time.
  5. (Optional) Each pixel in these images represents a 30-meter square on the ground. If you want to measure features in the images in real-world units, you can select Analyze > Set Scale... and set the Distance in Pixels to 1, the Known Distance to 0.03, and the Unit of Length to km. Once the scale is set, you can select distances or areas on the image and choose Analyze > Measure to see the results. This technique is explained in more detail in the Measuring Distance and Area in Satellite Images chapter.

Step 4 –
Interpret Types of Change

Some differences between the three images are due to normal variation in environmental conditions such as rainfall from year to year. More "permanent" changes such as the appearance of new structures in the harbor and the spread of urban development indicate that humans are changing the area.

Step 5 –
Look for Evidence of Land Reclamation

In addition to new structures in the harbor area, some areas of the images show an increase in the area of land. The peninsulas in the center of the images actually grow over time! This unlikely event is the result of land reclamation projects.

To reclaim land, powerful dredging machines gather sand and gravel from the harbor bottom, then heap the sediments into specially prepared enclosures near the shore. Accumulations of the dredged sediments eventually rise above the water level, creating new land.
  1. Look at each of the three slices of the stack carefully by moving through them using the arrows and the magnifiying tool.
  2. Look for areas of land that appear to grow over time and think about the question below.
    • What does it appear that the new land is used for?
    • The rectangular green areas suggest that the new land is used for growing crops.

The practice of moving sediments from river bottoms or seafloors through pipelines back onto land is an obvious example of how humans affect the Earth system–the process is essentially the opposite of erosion. Sand and gravel is sometimes pumped tens of kilometers from where it was deposited by nature on the seafloor. The sediments are then redeposited by the dredging machinery in locations that are uphill from their former location.

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