Assessing Ecosystem Diversity and Urban Boundaries Using Surface Reflectance and Emissivity at Varying Spectral and Spatial Scales

Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems
Project Description
With the increase in the population density and the ever expanding conversion of land from rural to urban, the urban heat island (UHI) effect has become a problem of critical importance. Land cover type and land surface temperature (LST) in urban and rural areas display significant differences, such as higher LST and lower moisture content, with increasing urbanization. The combination of high spectral resolution optical and thermal infrared imagery of the proposed HyspIRI mission will provide a powerful capability for more precise land cover type discrimination and ecosystem monitoring than possible using current satellite systems, such as mapping of cover types, aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem identification, vegetation/soil nutrient and moisture content determinations and assessment of the ecosystems function and health. In preparation for HyspIRI data use, and to contribute toward the development of the mission’s concepts, this study will assemble existing data from air-borne (AVIRIS, MASTER) and space-borne (EO-1 Hyperion and ASTER) systems. The selected scenes cover both rural and urban environments. The goals are: 1) to generate HyspIRI-like data sets; 2) characterize the ecosystems biodiversity composition and functional groups and delineate urban and rural ecosystems; 3) determine the relationship between spectral and thermal properties of urban and rural ecosystems and of individual functional types within an ecosystem; and 4) assess the capabilities of spectral indicators of vegetation bio-physical properties and health, derived from HyspIRI-like data. To evaluate the benefit of combining high spectral resolution optical and thermal into HyspIRI-like data, 60 m spatial resolution data, from two independent locations with different regional climate and ecosystem types, will be compared to data for the same locations aggregated to higher and lower spatial scales. By fusion of spectroscopy and thermal remote sensing, this study will assess the potential of HyspIRI-like data for delineating land covers and vegetation types, discriminating natural versus urban ecosystems, and assessing ecosystems diversity and health. Project PI: Petya Campbell/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Hydrological and Biospheric Sciences Building 33, Room G313 NASA GSFC, Code 614.4 Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA Phone: (301) 614-6784 Fax: (301) 614-6695
Project Administrator(s):
Cristina Milesi,


Cristina Milesi