The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Arizona Remote Sensing Center (ARSC)

The Arizona Remote Sensing Center (ARSC) was established in 1972 and since its inception, ARSC has worked on a wide range of international, national, regional, and local projects in which advanced airborne and satellite remote sensing data and other geospatial information technologies are utilized to help address both fundamental and applied issues in natural resource management. ARSC’s mission is to employ remote sensing and geospatial technologies to solve natural, agricultural, and cultural resource problems in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. This mission involves both basic and applied research in support of the operational application of geospatial technologies and their extension to stakeholders, the integration of field and remote sensing data and analysis, modeling of coupled human and natural systems, and the deployment of decision support systems.

Average MODIS Vegetation Response for August between 2000 and 2010

The primary activities of the center focus on research supported by basic and applied research contracts and grants to develop and apply remote sensing and GIS technologies to problems in agriculture, natural resource management, and the environment. ARSC develops and maintains a number of scientific web sites in response to a large demand for information and data and the need to integrate computer technology into decision support. In response and in conjunction with a number of institutions, ARSC is processing and examining time series of the MODIS NDVI product to make it available on the web ( for monitoring land surface response to the environment and examine impacts like fire and drought. ARSC is also dedicated to providing graduate and undergraduate students with the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills in remote sensing and geospatial analysis. ARSC research projects are staffed by students from a variety of campus Departments including: the Arid Lands Resource Sciences Ph.D. Program, Electrical and Computer Engineering, the School of Geography and Development, Geosciences, Hydrology and Water Resources, Management and Information Systems, as well as the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Current and recent projects have been conducted by ARSC throughout the Americas, Mexico, parts of Europe, West-Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Themes and highlights of these activities include:
  • Lower Gila River Vegetation Mapping Using Novel LiDAR and Multispectral Data Fusion and Classification Techniques to Inform Riparian Habitat Restoration (BLM)
  • Snow Water with Artificial Neural Network (SWANN) (SRP)
  • Collaborative Research: Slowing the Expansion of Woodlands and Increasing the Resilience of Grasslands in the Southern Great Plains (NSF)
  • Droughtview: Geospatial Tools for Natural Resource Management (NOAA, NASA, WEES, EXtension);  Development of web based tools to access multitemporal satellite and precipitation data for natural resource management
  • Inspiring the Next Generation Naval Scientists and Engineers in NROTC Battalions Through UG Navy-Relevant Geospatial Experiences (ONR)
  • Using 30-years of bi-weekly 8 kilometer remotely sensed vegetation data (NDVI) to examine impacts of climate indices on phenology and productivity along the Andes Mountains
  • Environmental and socio-economic impacts on land surface phenology in Central Asia http:/
  • Development of Vegetation Phenology and Enhanced Vegetation Index Products from Multiple Long Term Satellite Data Records (NASA)
  • Examining phenological changes among sky islands using vegetation indices measured on different spatial scales
  • Fusion of High Resolution Aerial Multispectral and LiDAR Data in order to characterize Land Cover in the Context of Urban Mosquito Habitat (
  • Assessment of Pygmy-Owl habitat quality, dispersal behavior, and distribution in Sonora, Mexico through the use of moderate and high resolution remotely sensed data 
  • Calculation of phenological metrics through MODIS data to assess the movement of Pronghorns near the Arizona Mexico border (USFWS)
  • Classification of crop types in Pinal and Yuma counties through Landsat data in order to assess the impacts of whitefly on the melon crop (
  • Examination of how remote sensing can be used to study the combined impacts of fire and bark beetle infestation in the Rocky Mountains (NSF NEON)
  • Interpretation of historical remotely sensed images to reconstruct the history of insect outbreaks in the Rocky Mountains
  • Assessment of Post Wildfire Vegetation Response in Spain, Israel and Arizona (IALC) (
  • Monitoring Drought impacts in the US Southwest, Central Asia, and West Africa (NASA, USDA, USGS)
  • Evaluation of remote sensing methods for inventory and mapping of desert resources and vegetation mapping at National Parks and Monuments (U.S. National Park Service)
For more information contact:
Willem J.D. van Leeuwen, Ph.D.
Director Arizona Remote Sensing Center 
Environment and Natural Resources 2
1064 East Lowell Street
Tucson, AZ 85721