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Remote Sensing Methods Monitor Natural Resources

Photonics Spectra
Oct 1999
Susan L. Ustin, Dar A. Roberts, Robert O. Green, Robert J. Zomer and Monica Garcia, University of California-Davis, University of California-Santa Barbara and Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology.

Advances in hyperspectral imaging can provide the information needed to help protect and redevelop wildlands.

Environmental scientists are concerned about the impact of changing land use and habitat fragmentation on the ecosystem. Past and current misuses of forests and rangelands extend from well-known problems such as overgrazing, erosion and contamination to losses of native species and the introduction of invasive weeds. If we are going to improve the management of wildland resources, we need to have methods that can sustain and improve their condition. To achieve this, new monitoring tools are needed.

Hyperspectral remote sensing -- with the information it provides in the continuous measurement across the visible and reflected infrared spectrum -- can improve resource monitoring. Scientists have been developing this technology for more than 20 years, and advances have demonstrated several applications for managing resources. Four hyperspectral satellites with Landsat-like spatial resolutions will be launched within the next two years, and several commercial airborne sensors are already in operation. Freer access to such data is propelling the transition from research to operations.

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