Remote Sensing of Sustainable Ecosystems

Remote sensing is the science of capturing images of the Earth from drones, airplanes, and satellites. It allows us to monitor changes in the Earth’s climate, seas, cities, and mountains. It also allows us to measure changes in the Earth’s ecosystems.

A special issue of the Journal of Sensors out now. The issue is a collection of current research on sustainable ecosystems using remote sensing technology, and is edited by myself, Dr. Yichun Xie from the Geospatial Research & Education Center at Eastern Michigan University, and Dr. Zongyao Sha from the School of Remote Sensing & Information Engineering at Wuhan University in China. The issue is a product of the GSES (Geo-informatics in Sustainable Ecosystem and Society) conference at Wuhan University in September of 2017. The forum covered diverse topics centering on advances in earth observation, geospatial analysis and technologies and their applications in natural resource management and sustainable society. The binding theme was spatial observation (either using ground-based in-situ sensors or moving sensors) for acquiring information on key ecosystem elements, as well as innovative data assimilation strategies to improve our understanding of the interactions of those elements within or between ecosystems.

The papers focus on the design of systematic data acquisition frames, the approaches for processing and extracting ecosystem related datasets, and the models for understanding the science behind some ecosystems. Specifically:

  1. Advanced image processing and geo-statistical techniques for analyzing and classifying hyperspectral data.
  2. Calibrating unmanned aerial vehicles using hyperspectral and digital surface models.
  3. Access unlimited cloud computing resources for storing and transforming multisource data.
  4. Big-data analytics based on spatial modeling and machine learning to understand the science for promoting sustainable ecosystem services.
  5.  Measuring leaf dust retention across visible and infrared wavelengths.
  6.   Application of Voronoi diagrams for simulating. 
  7. Mapping rare and protected ecosystem service capacities more accurately.

The work on monitoring the Earth’s complex ecosystems is critical for measuring their biotic and abiotic elements, as they impact all aspects of the environment. Their equilibrium and sustainability are paramount to their functionality, health, and survival. This special issue of the Journal of Sensors includes the latest advancements in remote sensor systems and computing platforms that have made it possible to collect data on ecosystems quickly and routinely. In particular, the increasing volume of multispectral and hyperspectral data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), airborne, and satellite sensors. They provide rich information for mapping, monitoring, and analyzing a wide range of ecological applications. Big data sets from various remotely sensed platforms are essential for understanding the science behind ecosystem functions and thus provide critical insights on how ecosystems are sustainable.

The journal is open access and the complete issue can be viewed here.

Dr. Victor Mesev is the Harrison V. Chase Distinguished Professor of Geography.

The featured image is from Researchgate.

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