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The evaluation of forthcoming satellites for mapping topsoil organic carbon in croplands (PROSOIL)

Projet de recherche SR/67/327 (Action de recherche SR)

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Understanding the response of soils to external drivers to assist decision making at all scales requires precise spatially referenced soil data and maps. The first generation of hyperspectral satellites was characterized by low signal to noise ratios (e.g. Hyperion 190-40:1 as the wavelength increases) and their application for predicting soil properties was limited. Now that the Hyperion project will be shut down in 2016, the launch of a future generation is being finalized. These satellites, scheduled to be launched starting in 2015 (Sentinel 2, EnMAP), have the spectral resolution and signal to noise ratio (500-180:1 depending on the wavelength) required to provide high resolution data on a number of topsoil properties. Once the satellites are operational one can foresee an increasing demand for a robust methodology to derive soil products covering the size of one or a couple of tiles (e.g. for EnMAP: 30 x 30 km) throughout Europe, using imagery acquired under optimal soil and weather conditions. The objective of the PROSOIL project is to develop methods to produce up-to-date soil property data through Multivariate Calibration (MVC) of the signal from the new generation of hyperspectral satellites.


Predicting soil properties from satellites requires calibration based on readily available soil spectral libraries (SSL) containing spectra and analytical parameters for large areas. As the new generation of hyperspectral satellites are not yet launched (or fully operational) and the Hyperion satellite will be shut down in 2016, we will demonstrate the potential to predict topsoil properties and validate this approach for three pilot areas using EnMAP simulated satellite imagery derived from airborne HRS acquired during previous projects.


The project will primarily demonstrate the feasibility of detecting SOC from the satellite signal. This will be done through communications at soil science and remote sensing conferences, such as the IUSS soil sensing and digital soil mapping work group, IGARSS and Whispers. Publications in peer-reviewed journals are foreseen on complementing the LUCAS database with local SSL’s as well as prediction of SOC from satellites using spectral libraries. Furthermore, presentations for stakeholders interested in monitoring soil quality are foreseen. We will use the Belair project and the EnMAP website as a show case for the methodology and data developed.


The ultimate aim of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a semi-automated, robust and harmonized calibration for soil organic carbon prediction from hyperspectral satellite systems in areas dominated by croplands. This calibration will then become operational once the next generation of satellites is launched (Sentinel 2 started in 2015 and EnMAP is scheduled for 2018)

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