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Tracking Land Cover Changes in the San Fernando Valley, California


Learning Unit Description:

The Integrated Geospatial Education and Technology Training Project (iGETT) presents a series of Learning Units (LU) designed to incorporate federal land remote sensing data into Geographic Information System (GIS) instruction. The Tracking Land Cover Changes in the San Fernando Valley LU, created by Adrian Youhanna of Pierce College, integrates remote sensing with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify land cover changes in the San Fernando Valley. Divited into four parts, this lesson will guide students through the necessary steps for classifying, interpreting, and examining changes in the study area. Students will analyze Landsat images using MultiSpec software to identify various natural and human-developed features present on the surface into land cover classes. The classifications will then be used to detect areas where obvious change and/or growth have occurred over the past two decades.

The iGETT Learning Units amount to about two weeks of instruction and are designed for use both as “skills-based case studies and building blocks for new courses.” All LUs are intended for students with a basic understanding of GIS. Each LU includes three core documents, an instructor’s guide, a student guide, and a curriculum support document, as well as the remote sensing data needed to complete the unit. Completion of the lesson will require approximately 4-5 weeks of class time. In order to complete the lesson, students must have access to the following software: MultiSpec, ArcGIS 9.3, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, Landsat data, and USGS Topographic Quadrangles.

Upon completion of the lesson students will have developed map-reading skills; developed critical thinking skills; demonstrated skills in manipulating GIS software, manipulating spatial data, and integrating data from different sources; and prepared and presented a report on analysis findings.

For orientation purposes, viewers should begin with the ‘Thumbnail’ PDF document, which offers a description of the LU as well as an overview of topics covered, required software, and the intended audience.

Lesson Contents:

The attached files associated with this LU exist in a variety of formats and a variety of geospatial data file types.

Below is a list of the files contained within the .zip attachment. The size of each file is included in parenthesis.

  • Handouts
    • Lesson Overview (Youhanna_Thumbnail.pdf 133 KB)
    • Instructor Guide (Youhanna_IG_Final.pdf 181 KB)
    • Curriculum Support Document (Youhanna_CS.pdf 37 KB)
    • Student Handout (Youhanna_SG_Final-1.pdf 4.9 MB)


  • Data
    • ayouhanna_data1.rar
      • (L72041036_03620081014_B80.TIF 243.4MB)
    • ayouhanna_data2.rar 
      • ​(L72041036_03620081014_B70.TIF​ 60.9MB)
      • ​(L72041036_03620081014_B50.TIF​ 60.9MB)
      • ​(L72041036_03620081014_B62.TIF​ 615.2MB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_MTL.txt 66KB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_GCP.txt 10KB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_B61.TIF 15.2MB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_B40.TIF60.9MB)
    • ayouhanna_data3.rar 
      • (README.GTF 7KB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_B30.TIF 60.9MB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_B20.TIF 60.9MB)
      • (L71041036_03620081014_B10.TIF 60.9MB)
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