Land Monitoring

Land surfaces cover about 30% of the Earth and house a continuously growing global population which creates an ever-increasing pressure on our environment. In such context, a continuous knowledge of the state and health of land ecosystems is required in order to support efficient decision-making.

Earth observation images from satellite sensors, supplemented by in situ measurements, provide reliable and consistent data over time. The wealth of satellite and in situ data are transformed into value-added information by processing and analyzing the data, integrating it with other sources and validating the results. Datasets stretching back for years and decades are made comparable, thus ensuring the monitoring of changes. Maps are created, features and anomalies are identified, statistics are extracted and used to make better forecasts, for example, of crop yield.

HYGEOS contributes to these activities through its involvement in the Copernicus Global Land Service and in the Copernicus Climate Change Service. Indeed, HYGEOS uses his expertise in radiative transfer to define innovative methodologies, in particular to remove the effects of atmospheric components, to retrieve land surface reflectances and biophysical variables like the leaf area index and the fraction of solar radiation absorbed for photosynthesis, which are indicators of the grow and health of vegetation, or the albedo, which is a key parameter of the Earth energy budget and, then, a sensitive indicator of the environmental vulnerability. HYGEOS involvement in R&D for land monitoring started more than 10 years ago with its participation in the precursor project FP7/geoland2 and has continued in the FP7/ImagineS project designed to support the evolution of the Copernicus Global Land service.

The basic land surface physical variables are exploited in specific advanced models for a wide range of applications. For instance, they are essential inputs for integrated models which monitor, forecast and make projections about the changing climate of our planet. In agriculture, they help to precision farming for an optimization of use of water, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides; they allow mapping crop dynamics, at field scale or over the whole globe, for yield forecast and a better management of food security issues. In forestry, they are used to manage the resources by mapping the changes in forest cover due to natural, like fires, or anthropogenic disturbances like deforestation and illegal logging. Similarly, they are also useful for the monitoring of protected areas which shelter threatened or endangered animal and plant species. In local and regional planning, they give information for urban sprawl management and for detection of urban heat islands which have an impact on the people’s health. For insurance business, they provide the delineation of damaged areas after natural disasters like fires, floods, and droughts.

End-users are public bodies, including governmental entities, funding and supervisory authorities at regional, national or international levels, NGOs and research organizations. Clients from private sectors are agricultural, forestry or industrial cooperatives as well as insurance, construction and real estate companies.