Articles on remote sensing in ecology published in BioScience

05/27/04

Special section in journal details new as well as established systems

Six articles published in a Special Section in the June 2004 issue of BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), assess remote sensing techniques that are now being used--or have potential for use--in ecological studies of landscapes, regions, and the entire globe. Such techniques can be used to develop sophisticated models of natural processes that will improve researchers' ability to forecast important changes.

An article by Michael Wulder of the Canadian Forest Service and colleagues surveys the use of high spatial resolution data obtained by airborne and satellite-based sensors. Such data are now widely used for assessing forest structure and can be used to estimate quantities such as biomass. Susan Ustin of the University of California, Davis, and co-authors then describe the uses of airborne and space borne imaging spectrometers, cutting-edge systems that measure hundreds of narrow spectral bands and can provide insights into ecosystem functioning and properties.

In the third article in the Special Section, Warren B. Cohen of the US Forest Service and Samuel Goward of the University of Maryland summarize the large contributions of the Landsat program to ecology over more than three decades. An outgrowth of the US space program, Landsat faces an uncertain future. Next, Steven W. Running of the University of Montana and his associates describe how data now being generated by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer sensor of the Earth Observing System are used to generate global assessments of gross and net primary production (the creation of plant matter by photosynthesis) several times each month. Such assessments, widely distributed, can track environmental degradation and might even be used to make decisions about when to move grazing animals.

Robert W. Treuhaft of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-authors then provide an account of a very new technique currently being evaluated: interferometric synthetic aperture radar, which the authors believe has potential to provide global three-dimensional assessments of forest structure. This technique could produce data that might be fused with data from other systems. Lastly, David P. Turner of Oregon State University and others illustrate how data from a variety of remote sensing systems are now being incorporated into ecosystem process models.

An introductory editorial by Warren B. Cohen, who was coordinating editor of the Special Section, surveys the articles. Cohen notes that increasing numbers of biophysical data products are being created through the use of remote sensing techniques.

Journalists may obtain advance copies of the articles in the Special Section and Cohen's editorial by contacting Donna Royston, AIBS communications representative.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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