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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Free availability of satellite imagery has boosted deforestation monitoring applications, but risk of data gap looms

Free availability of satellite imagery has boosted deforestation monitoring applications, but risk of data gap looms

Date : 29th September 2010, Source : Mongabay



In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of satellite-based monitoring applications and technologies, which is perhaps best exemplified in the eyes of the public by Google Earth, which allows anyone with a decent internet connection to view overhead images of nearly any place on Earth. But these new applications are also helping scientists more effectively monitor environmental change, including the fluctuations in polar sea ice, shifts in oceanic plankton, and deforestation. An important factor in the expanded use of satellite imagery has been the U.S. government's free Landsat Data Distribution Policy, which allows free or inexpensive access to data captured by Landsat satellites, which have been collected data on a regular basis since 1972. But the Landsat program is not presently operating at its full capacity. Remote sensing scientists are therefore looking forward to 2012, when Landsat Data Continuity Mission launches. That initiative will 'collect and archive data consistent with its predecessor Landsat satellites', according to NASA. Should the satellites fail in the interim, scientists will face a 'data gap' in their research efforts. Continuity is crucial. Landsat is particularly important to researchers monitoring changes in forest cover, especially when trying to construct a historical baseline. Matthew Hansen, a remote sensing scientist at South Dakota State University and one of the world's leading experts on tracking deforestation, says that the number of 'observations' or images captured, rather than the algorithms and computing power to process and analyze data, is now the biggest limiting factor in efforts to accurately measure deforestation in a timely matter.

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0929-hansen_interview.html





Document last updated on Tuesday 30 August 2011

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