Remote Sensing in the Reflective Spectrum

A Powerful and Applied Technology for Terrestrial Ecosystem Science

Authored by: Arnon Karnelli

Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Infrastructures

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498751315
eBook ISBN: 9781315368252
Adobe ISBN:


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Combining remote sensing techniques and methods with ecosystem science is challenging since the former has several notable benefits that offer a great number of advanced applications to terrestrial ecology in both spatial and temporal domains. Understanding the spectroscopy foundations and principles can open new horizons to ecologists by introducing a large variety of data, along with their algorithms and processing techniques, which are not be able to be achieved by traditional data collection methods. In this regard, this chapter, which was compiled by a remote sensing specialist, reviews remote sensing capabilities for terrestrial ecology and provides the readers with detailed information on remote sensing means, algorithms, and techniques. The review contains four sections on (1) past, current, and future spaceborne broadband and hyperspectral instruments and platforms; (2) spectral indices, including broad and narrow spectral indices for vegetation, soil, and other environmental substrates; (3) spectral analysis methods, including multivariable analysis, multitemporal data processing, phenology studies, and multisource data fusion; and (4) a tabular summary of the key ecological variables with respect to their analysis methods, main spectral bands, and the preferred type of remote sensing platform. The summary notes several fundamental challenges in the path toward better integrating the two disciplines. The review is focused on the reflective part of the spectrum, that is, the visible, near-, and shortwave infrared regions; however, other regions, such as the thermal and microwave, are excluded. Moreover, the review mainly describes the spectral dimension of remote sensing, leaving the related image analysis techniques for another document.

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