Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cropland Map of the World to Be Most Detailed Ever

02.07.2013
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:
http://www.nau.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Unusual soybean coloration sheds a light on gene silencing
20.06.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>