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Posted on February 5th, 2019

Our Changing Landscape – Northeast Denver, Colorado

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 14 billion square kilometers of data. Last month we checked out seasonal changes on the world’s tallest peak, and for the February edition of Our Changing Landscape we check out urban growth in Northeast Denver, Colorado, USA.

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter (m) medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over northeast Denver, Colorado, USA on June 22, 2009, July 29, 2012, June 20, 2015 and August 16, 2018. What you might notice first is how dry the July 2012 image appears compared to the other dates – this year was a particular extreme drought along the Front Range. If you look at the center of the images as well as the park area in the north, you will see several new neighborhoods spring into existence as well as a bunch of smaller commercial buildings. This time series confirms that northeast Denver is in fact growing rapidly! (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2019)

Urban Growth in Northeast Denver, Colorado, USA

Having lived in Colorado for the past 19 years, I (Brock writes this article series) have seen the Denver metro area explode from a quiet cow-town to a bustling metropolis. In fact, Colorado has added 700,000 residents since 2010 (or 13.2%), making it the fourth fastest growing state in that time frame. When considering the Denver metro area, in 1990, the population stood at 467,854, while the most recent census estimates place the July 2018 population at some 704,621 resident. While Denver grew at a 1.4% rate from July 2017 to July 2018, that was well below the peak growth rate of nearly 2.8% in 2015.

Drilling down on the Denver metro area, the Northeast part of town is one of its fastest growing regions, with the neighborhood of Montbello achieving national recognition for its explosive growth. One part of town that I have seen grow up over the years is the redeveloped neighborhood of Stapleton. Once the site of an international airport which was decommissioned in 1995, since that time the planned neighborhoods have spread across the map with the final installment, the North End, recently completing its buildout. With some personal interest invested in this Our Changing Landscape, it is time to check out the 5-meter RapidEye archive to see the march of urban growth across the landscape of Northeast Denver.

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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