new NATURE article: Define biodiversity indicators from space

new NATURE article: Define biodiversity indicators from space

written by Martin Wegmann

September 30, 2015

A new NATURE piece on biodiversity indicators from space just got published. The article stresses the importance for collaboration between ecologists and space agencies on a global strategy for monitoring Earth’s biodiversity from space. Currently, different countries track different biodiversity variables, such as habitat types and ecosystem functions, inconsistently. The article proposes quantities, such as vegetation height and leaf area, that can be derived consistently from satellite data and used to monitor deforestation and biodiversity loss across the globe. Conservation scientists need to collaborate with space agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), to identify measures which help track biodiversity declines around the world.
In a move that previously proved successful in helping to monitor climate change on a global scale, scientists believe that space technology could help track biodiversity across the planet. Satellite images can quickly reveal where and how to reverse the loss of biological diversity. Vegetation productivity or leaf cover can, for example, be measured across continents from space while providing information about biodiversity levels on the ground.
Publicly-funded space agencies, including NASA and ESA, already collect and regularly provide open-access to satellite data. However, a lack of agreement between conservation biologists and space agencies on a definitive set of variables to track, as well as how to translate such information into useful data for conservation, has meant that so far this game-changing resource has remained untapped.
Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, co-author of the comment and researcher at ZSL, said: “With global wildlife populations halved in just 40 years, there is a real urgency to identify variables that both capture key aspects of biodiversity change and can be monitored consistently and globally. Satellites can help deliver such information, and in 10 years’ time, global biodiversity monitoring from space could be a reality, but only if ecologists and space agencies agree on a priority list of satellite-based data that is essential for tracking changes in biodiversity.
“So far biodiversity monitoring has been mostly species-based, and this means that some of the changes happening on a global-scale may be missed. Being able to look at the planet as a whole could literally provide a new perspective on how we conserve biological diversity.” Dr Andrew Skidmore, lead author and Professor at ITC University Twente, said: “Satellite imagery from major space agencies is becoming more freely available, and images are of much higher resolution than 10 years ago. Our ambition to monitor biodiversity from space is now being matched by actual technical capacity. As conservation and remote sensing communities join forces, biodiversity can be monitored on a global scale. High tech satellites can assist in conserving biological diversity by tracking the impact of environmental policies worldwide.”


Environmental science: Agree on biodiversity metrics to track from space
Andrew K. Skidmore, Nathalie Pettorelli, Nicholas C. Coops, Gary N. Geller, Matthew Hansen, Richard Lucas, Caspar A. Mücher, Brian O’Connor, Marc Paganini, Henrique Miguel Pereira, Michael E. Schaepman, Woody Turner, Tiejun Wang & Martin Wegmann

NATURE, vol. 523 (7561), 2015

you may also like:

PhD colloquium of Prof. Stefan Dech

PhD colloquium of Prof. Stefan Dech

Last week we had as every year the colloquium of all PhD students by Prof. Stefan Dech. This time in a different setting however despite these changes we had very good and extensive discussions on various research topics. Nevertheless we are looking forward to have...

New Book “Intro to Spatial Data Analysis” finally arrived

New Book “Intro to Spatial Data Analysis” finally arrived

Our book "An Introduction to Spatial Data Analysis - Remote Sensing and GIS with Open Source Software" finally arrived! It is great to flip through the pages of our copies and we sincerely hope that all readers find the book as interesting as we experienced the...

new publication on urban remote sensing

new publication on urban remote sensing

A new article by Hannes Taubenboeck and colleagues was just published "Seven city types representing morphologic configurations of cities across the globe". They performed an empirical analysis of morphological-spatial configurations of urban landscapes across the...

most recent news:

innovative urban climate in-situ measurements for Earth Observation

innovative urban climate in-situ measurements for Earth Observation

Bikair is a project aiming at measuring urban climate parameters with in-situ and Earth Observation. It focuses on testing low-cost Arduino-based sensors in an urban environment such as the city of Würzburg. Eventually, the project aims to correlate in-situ data with...

WASCAL research project presented to Geography Students

WASCAL research project presented to Geography Students

Global change and regional action, a German contribution in West Africa through capacity development and research. The BMBF-funded project WASCAL-DE-Coop at the Institute of Geography and Geology. The Student Board of the Institute of Geography and Geology at the...