Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

A forest of scientists

An international collaboration effort has established a global network of remote sensing sites. These sites are used to study the biochemistry of forest vegetation and ecosystems, which gives scientists an indication of forest health.
A forest of scientists
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has more impact on climate change than any other greenhouse gas. Forests are major CO2 sinks and absorb about a third of all human-related CO2 emissions, demonstrating their importance in mitigating climate change.

The EU-funded SENSORVEG (Staff exchanges to estimate vegetation structure and biochemistry from remote sensing in connection to carbon and water fluxes) project established a global network of remote sensing sites to study vegetation. Several scientists took part in an international staff exchange programme to develop reliable methods to measure vegetation biochemistry.

Remote sensing can be used to measure several factors that can predict the health of individual trees as well as the forest as a whole. These estimations help researchers to understand the water cycle and its interactions with global carbon and energy balances.

In order for remote sensing data to be accurate and comparable, however, the data needs be collected following a standard set of procedures.

One of the aims of SENSORVEG was to establish standard parameters and procedures for remote sensing. To achieve this goal, researchers compared spectral information at leaf, canopy and ecosystem levels using data collected by different methods and in different areas.

Next, SENSORVEG studied Mediterranean drought-adapted plant species to standardise methodology and study water interaction in plants. With their standard methods, the team analysed irrigated almond and pistachio orchards in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California.

By studying how different forest canopies grow, the SENSORVEG team could better understand the physiological processes taking place in the canopy.

Establishing international collaborations is an important step towards a global environmental monitoring network. Data from these studies helped to improve understanding of the water cycle and will help farmers manage irrigation of crops.

Related information


Forest, remote sensing, biochemistry, vegetation, ecosystems, water cycle
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