Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cropland Map of the World to Be Most Detailed Ever

Data harvested from the sky may give researchers a view into the future of food production while opening insights to the implications of climate change.

The five-year, $3.5 million project funded by NASA will make use of existing satellite imagery to produce the first-ever global survey of croplands. Northern Arizona University assistant research professor Temuulen “Teki” Sankey, a remote sensing ecologist, will put her skills to work as part of a multi-institute team trying to answer the question of “Where is all the food going to come from?” to feed a growing world population.

“This has never been done before at the scale we’re looking at,” said Sankey, noting the 30-meter resolution satellite images will allow her and other researchers to identify eight different crops and changes in acreage over the past four decades.

The LANDSAT images are stored and managed by the U.S. Geological Survey and are publicly available. But examining a world’s worth of them in 30-meter pixels over 40 years takes a cluster of supercomputers and a series of intricate algorithms.

“If you want to map the entire world in this kind of detail, it takes a massive, massive amount of data,” Sankey said. “In recent years, the technology has caught up with the kinds of data that a person could imagine using.”

Yet all that technology will still need an assist. To validate that conclusions drawn from the satellite images are accurate requires “ground data.”

According to Sankey, “We are going to look at our own map and ask, ‘Really, is it true that 20,000 acres are being cropped in this location?’ Then we need someone from that area to tell us that yes, it’s true, or that our analysis is inaccurate.”

Over the years, members of the research team have compiled a library of such information, but “we are trying to come up with a systematic and intelligent way to survey the Earth,” Sankey said. One possibility is a web page to which the public can contribute.

Sankey’s own research has focused on the study of vegetation cover to determine land-use changes over decades of time. She explained that climate science may gain from the mapping project because of the details it will reveal about natural vegetation lost to cropland expansion. Climate scientists rely on maps in coarser pixels that may not show such details, she said, which means there may be less or more vegetation than currently believed to absorb carbon dioxide.

“With our maps, they can come up with better estimates of what’s going on with carbon storage globally,” Sankey said. “Then they can produce a more accurate model for climate change.”

Other partners in the project include the U.S. Geological Survey, California State University at Monterey Bay, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Wisconsin and Bay Area Environmental Institute.

Eric Dieterle | Newswise
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>