Matthew C. Hansen


Prof. Matthew Hansen is a remote sensing scientist with a research specialization in large area land cover and land use change mapping. His research is focused on developing improved algorithms, data inputs and thematic outputs which enable the mapping of land cover change at regional, continental and global scales. Such maps enable better informed approaches to natural resource management, including deforestation and biodiversity monitoring and can also be used by other scientists as inputs to carbon, climate and hydrological modeling studies. Prof. Hansen's work as an Associate Team Member of NASA's MODIS Land Science Team included the algorithmic development and product delivery of the MODIS Vegetation Continuous Field land cover layers. His current research includes taking the global processing model for MODIS and applying it to the Landsat archive. Exhausting mining of the Landsat archive has been used to map forest disturbance in the Congo Basin, Indonesia, European Russia, Mexico, Quebec and the United States. The methods developed in these efforts will be used to test global-scale disturbance mapping with Landsat data. Other current research efforts focus on improving global cropland monitoring capabilities, for example global soybean cultivated area estimation using MODIS, Landsat and RapidEye data sets.

For a more in depth look at his reserach lab's projects, reserach focus and publications, visit the Global Land Analysis and Discovery lab here


Dr. Hansen's Science paper is accessible from this webpage following the links below:
High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change
M.C. Hansen, P.V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S.A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S.V. Stehman, S.J. Goetz, T.R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C.O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend
Science 15 November 2013: 342 (6160), 850-853. [DOI:10.1126/science.1244693]

Full text can be found here; abstract only; reprint version here.


Areas of Interest:
  • Land cover
  • MA Geography
  • MS Civil Engineering
  • Ph.D Geography
  • BS Electrical Engineering
I believe teaching cultivates and challenges the curious mind. In doing so, independent thinking and problem-solving skills are developed. I hope to empower curious and open minds to both identify and solve the environmental sustainability challenges of our time.
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
GEOG422 Changing Geographies of Subsaharan Africa Fall 2017 Syllabus
My primary goal in quantifying land cover extent and change is to bring improved information to natural resource monitoring, management and modeling. I seek to develop research ideas that are tested and validated and then judged to be of practical value. The most rewarding outcome of my research is the adoption of our methods in operational contexts. I also believe in an interdisciplinary research approach. The task of improving land cover monitoring requires engineering skills in terms of data calibration and processing, geographic domain knowledge concerning land cover types and the drivers of land change, and understanding of the value of land information to downstream science applications.
Institutions require involvement from all members in maintaining and improving performance standards. For universities, this involves the combined efforts of faculty, staff and students in applying their various skills in service to their departments, colleges, university, professions and communities. Service is a shared sacrifice by all members of an institution in ensuring continuing improvement and development.
Former Students
  • Belinda Margono, PhD.
    Post-doctoral Reseracher
  • Alexandra Tyukavina, Ph.D
    Post-doctoral Reseracher
  • Matthew C. Hansen
4321 Hartwick Road Suite 400
Department of Geographical Sciences
Phone: (301) 405-2284
Office Hours:
By appointment. Email for scheduling.