Using Historic Imagery to Study Earth's Changing Surface
Investigators: Paul Bierman

Over the last 5 years, we have been building a web-based archive of historical images of Vermont landscapes. This archive now holds over 11,000 images representing almost every town in Vermont. Several thousand images show rivers and streams and this collection has allowed us to assess changes in riparian corridor vegetation over time; we find the number of poorly vegetated buffer zones has decreased since the late 1800s, precipitously so over the last several decades. We have also investigated the relationship between erosion and land clearance and find, not unexpectedly, that bare slopes show many more signs of erosion than forested slopes. Additionally, the archive provides visual fodder for teaching materials that we are using, testing, and revising for national distribution.

This research has been supported by grants from the NSF, the Lintilhac Foundation, and Paul Zehfuss.

Web links:

Relevant Publications:

  • Bierman, P.R., Howe, J., Stanley-Mann, E., Peabody, M., Hilke, J., and Massey, C.A., (2005). Old images record landscape change through time GSA Today. V. 15, n. 4, 10:1130/1052-5173(2005)015, p.1 -6
  • Bierman, P.R. (2000) Henry's Land, in The Earth Around Us: Maintaining A Livable Planet, J. Schniederman, ed., Freeman, p. 47-56.
  • Bierman, P., and Massey, C. (2005) How a modest REU supplement led to a paper in GSA Today, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs.
  • Bierman, P., Stanley-Mann, E., Howe, J., Peabody, M., Hilke, J. and Massey, C. (2004) A web-based time machine -- picturing two centuries of landscape change, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. 85-14
  • Stanley-Mann, E., Hilke, J., Bierman, P, and Worley, I (2004) Repeat photography documents landscape change 75 years after an horrendous flood, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 35 (7), 249-42 (National)
  • Persico, L. P., Mallard, L. D., Bierman, P. R., and Massey, C. A. (2000) Forest to farmland and back again: a changing Vermont landscape: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 32 (7), A-24. (National)
  • Massey, C., Bierman, P., Lavoie, J.P., Manduca, C., Berrizbeitia, I., Henry, J., (2005), Learning visually with historic "geo-images". Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs.