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Remote sensing of land-cover change and biomass burning processes in the Tropics

Research project T4/DD/01 (Research action T4)

Persons :

  • Prof. dr.  LAMBIN Eric - Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL)
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/12/1996-31/3/1999

Description :

The overall objective of the proposal is to develop a set of remote sensing-based techniques to improve the monitoring and modelling of processes of land-cover change and biomass burning at regional scales. The monitoring techniques will be based on indirect indicators of land-cover change such as biomass burning and landscape features.
They will be complementary to techniques that are based on a direct detection of changes (currently developed in parallel efforts). The modelling techniques will be aimed at projecting future patterns of land-cover changes from spatially-explicit observations by remote sensing

The proposed research is organised in three modules:

Module 1 :Characterisation from space of the pattern of biomass burning at regional scales

Improved remote sensing-based techniques will be developed to characterise in an accurate way the spatio-temporal distribution of biomass burning at broad scales. These techniques will combine the detection of active fires with the detection of burnt areas. Change detection techniques adapted for the spatio-temporal characteristics of biomass burning data will be developed to identify exceptional biomass burning activities which could potentially be related to land-cover change processes. Specific model designs will be developed for the assessment of the impacts of biomass burning on land-cover changes, using data derived by remote sensing.

Module 2: Identification of remote sensing-based indicators of land-cover change hot spots

Remote sensible landscape features closely associated with land-cover change processes will be identified to allow for a rapid identification and, if possible, anticipation of land-cover change "hot spots". Remote sensing based techniques will be developed to combine indicators of land-cover change "hot spots" in an alert system operating at regional scales for unexpected land-cover change processes

Module 3: Projection of spatio-temporal patterns of land-cover changes from remote sensing observations

A remote sensing-based technique to project future spatio-temporal patterns of land-cover changes from observations of recent patterns of changes will be developed. This technique will be grounded in the theory of "national land use morphology". It will rely on direct observations of the spatio temporal patterns of land-cover changes by remote sensing.

The main assumption behind this project is that the development of new remote sensing techniques to monitor and model land-cover change and biomass burning processes will spur a closer integration of remote sensing in global change research.

This research will be closely integrated within several international research programmes on land-use/land-cover change issues:
1. the new International Geosphere-Biosphere and Human Dimensions of Global Change Programmes (IGBP/HDP) entitled "Land-Use/Land-Cover Change".
2. two major European projects on tropical ecosystems : TREES (monitoring and modelling tropical deforestation) and FIRE (mapping and modelling biomass burning patterns).
3. the new IGBP/LUCC MIOMBO network, dealing with land-cover change in miombo ecosystems (eastern and central Africa).
4. several programmes on forthcoming satellite sensors (ESA's ATSR and MERIS, NASA's EOS MODIS and CNES's VEGETATION).
International collaborations will allow for data exchanges and increase the valorisation of the research.

The project will attempt to develop techniques with a geographic applicability. However, these techniques will be tested and validated over a few test sites for which large databases are already available. The following countries have been selected for more intensive testing and validation: Central African Republic, Senegal, and Indonesia or Papua New Guinea. Several findings will also be tested with global databases (e.g. TREES forest cover map and IGBP-DIS land cover map).

This project will combine a variety of remote sensing data: high and low spatial resolution; optical, thermal and microwave images, and, when available, archived aerial photographs and low altitude video camera.

Documentation :

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