Quantifying Vegetation Composition, Structure and Dynamics in Selected Australian Ecosystems: Science to Management

Stuart Phinn, Peter Scarth, John A. Armston, C. Witte, T. Danaher, Neil Flood, T. Gill, Richard Lucas

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Management of Australian ecosystems is carried out by state governments using information derived from satellite image data. The state of Queensland covers approximately 1.8 x 10^6 km^2 and uses satellite remote sensing and field survey programs to support legislated environmental monitoring, management and compliance activities.This poster outlines how the Joint Remote Sensing Research Program(JRSRP)delivered satellite image based data sets to address these activities by mapping foliage projective cover, vegetation height and biomass. Foliage projective cover (FPC), the vertically projected percentage cover of photosynthetic foliage of all strata, is produced from Landsat TM/ETM data using 88 scenes and over 1700 field sites. The JRSRP enabled government staff to be seconded to a university research group to work on the project, and the university provided postdoctoral and graduate student support. The JRSRP activities focussed on geometric and topographic corrections, BRDF corrections and time-series based approaches for correcting the archive of field survey and Landsat TM/ETM+ images. This has now progressed to a program using the entire Landsat TM/ETM+ archive on an annual basis and annual state-wide field survey data. The Landsat TM/ETM+ calibrations have been a critical input to the Landsat program's global vicarious calibration activities. Vegetation height is a critical parameter required for a range of state-wide activities and can be mapped accurately from field plots to regional areas using airborne Lidar. To develop statewide height estimates, an approach was developed using Icesat and existing vegetation community maps. By aggregating the spaceborne Icesat full waveform data within the mapped vegetation structure polygons it was possible to retrieve vegetation vertical structure information continuously across the landscape. This was used to derive mean canopy and understorey height, depth and density across Queensland, which was validated using airborne lidar data provided by the JRSRP. Biomass mapping is emerging as a critical environmental parameter for local, state and national agencies in Australia. Staff from JRSRP developed an approach with University of Aberystwyth in Wales, through JAXA's Kyoto and Carbon initiative, for acquiring ALOS PALSAR L-band image data, conducting geometric and radiometric corrections, and normalising for significant scene to scene differences in soil and vegetation moisture content. This pre-processing of 31 image strip time-series generated state-wide mosaics for Queensland that were then used with 1815 field survey sites collected across the state to produce a state-wide biomass estimation model for L-HV data, providing estimates for both remnant and non-remnant forests, with saturation at 263 Mg.Ha^-1 for 20% estimation error. The Joint Remote Sensing Research Program has enabled a sound approach to research and development for validated operational applications.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting - San Francisco, United States of America
Duration: 04 Dec 201109 Dec 2011


ConferenceProceedings of the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CitySan Francisco
Period04 Dec 201109 Dec 2011


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