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Advanced remote sensing methods for global ecosystem characterization


Specific Objectives:
1. To support users of environmental information by providing relevant, reliable and accurate characterizations of the state and evolution of terrestrial environments over regions of interest and for a multi-year period;
2. To support national and international Space Agencies in their efforts to generate useful products and to design future instruments that will meet the evolving requirements of the user community, in line with the developing GMES priorities;
3. To conduct research and development activities leading to quality and accuracy assessments as well as benchmarks of the tools routinely used in remote sensing;
4. To advance the state of the art in remote sensing research and prepare new advanced techniques that will be required to take full advantage of the next generation of sensors. Anticipated milestones and schedule.

The following milestones are indicative of current plans for 2003: By the end of the second quarter of 2003: - Compile a database of boreal forests characteristics (Deliverable 4.1). - Document the status of the archiving system (Deliverable 1.3). - Submit the RAMI Phase-2 manuscript (Deliverable 3.2) for publication in the refereed literature. By the end of the third quarter of 2003: - Report to ESA on the reliability and accuracy of the FAPAR product derived from MERIS on ENVISAT (Deliverable 3.1). -Make available 3 years of monthly FAPAR products over Europe (Deliverable 1.1) and 1 year of monthly FAPAR products over the globe (Deliverable 1.2) to the CarboEurope network of projects. By the end of the fourth quarter of 2003: - Deliver draft of MSG surface albedo ATBD to EUMETSAT (Deliverable 2.2).
Planned Deliverables:
1.1 Monthly composite FAPAR products over Europe at the full resolution of the SeaWiFS sensor for a period of 3 years. 1.2 Monthly composite FAPAR products over the globe at a reduced resolution of the SeaWiFS sensor for a period of 1 year. 1.3 An archiving system capable of holding remote sensing data and products, software codes and documents;
2.1 Documentation of the feasibility and accuracy of retrieving geophysical information from the multidirectional and hyper-spectral SPECTRA sensor (ESA). 2.2 Documentation of the feasibility and accuracy of retrieving land surface albedo on the basis of an analysis of observations from the MSG geostationary platform (EUMETSAT);
3.1 Characterisation of the accuracy of the FAPAR algorithm implemented in the MERIS/ENVISAT ground segment. 3.2 Publication of the results of the RAMI Phase-2 benchmarking exercise;
4.1 A compilation of boreal forest characteristics in support of advanced modelling of radiation transfer within these environments.
Summary of the Action: This action builds on in-house research and networking with recognized Centres of Excellence in Europe to develop state of the art optimised algorithms to extract information from space observations in the optical domain. Detailed descriptions of these methods, together with prototype software are delivered to Space Agencies for implementation in their ground segments. This approach leads to the operational generation and systematic delivery of relevant, accurate and reliable biogeophysical products to users of environmental information, in particular Action 2211, as well as researchers and national bodies involved in the estimation of terrestrial carbon sinks in vegetation. The action also advises Space Agencies on the design of future space instruments to meet the increasingly demanding needs of the user community. Through active research and frequent publication in the refereed literature, this activity develops quality standards and benchmarks in remote sensing for the benefit of whole scientific community, contributes directly to the GMES initiative and promotes the development of the high-tech space sector in Europe.

This activity will pursue the long tradition of this group to support the European Space Agency, EUMETSAT, and other national Space Agencies. Specific advanced products to document the spatial and temporal distribution of vegetation productivity will be generated in house or with the help of data providers to document the state and evolution of terrestrial environments over a multi-year period. This is directly relevant to the estimation of carbon sinks in the context of the Kyoto Protocol reporting by DG-Environment. This R&D project will initially focus on the delivery of geographical distributions of the 10-day and monthly composite Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR) at the spatial resolution of 2 km, on the basis of SeaWiFS data for the European continent and for a period of three years. Similar efforts to document global processes at a reduced resolution and for a one-year period will also be undertaken. Through cutting edge research, this activity will also consolidate the reference position of the group in the area of radiation transfer modelling and remote sensing methodology. This contribution naturally leads to the development of quality standards and benchmarks that are recognized worldwide, as well as to the verification of the accuracy and reliability of the products actually generated by Space Agencies implementing these new algorithms. Last but not least, it will conduct R&D to develop the tools and techniques that will be needed in the near future to address the increasingly demanding requests of the user community and the to take full advantage of the next generation of Earth Observation instruments.

Specifically, a long-term study of the distribution of boreal forest characteristics in Northern Europe will be initiated by compiling a database of structural and physical properties of these forests from field and laboratory measurements. Rationale Space-based monitoring systems provide significant advantages when environmental information (1) is needed over very large regions or inaccessible areas, (2) must be provided repetitively over long periods of time, or (3) is required on short notice to document unpredictable events. Information derived from Earth orbiting platforms plays a fundamental role in monitoring and assessing ecosystem sustainability. However, the reliability and accuracy of the derived products hinge on the quality of the methods used to analyse these observations and on the efficient operation of ground segments to systematically generate the desired information. The pressing needs of the users, in particular for accurate environmental information in the legally binding context of Environmental Conventions, as well as the continuous advances in sensor performance and information technologies place stringent demands on the development of state of the art methods and offer unique opportunities to optimally exploit Earth Observation data acquired from orbiting platforms. This calls for the development of optimised tools and techniques to take full advantage of these technologies. These approaches must be rooted in state of the art research, evaluated and endorsed by the scientific community, and effectively used to provide accurate assessments of the state and evolution of the environment.

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Via E. Fermi 1
21020 Ispra