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Special Issue "Earth Observation Technology Cluster: Innovative Sensor Systems for Advanced Land Surface Studies"

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A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2012)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Paul Aplin (Website)

Department of Geography, Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire, L39 4QP, United Kingdom
Fax: +44 115 9515249
Interests: remote sensing; image processing; land cover and land use; scale; classification; monitoring
Guest Editor
Dr. Doreen Boyd (Website)

School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
Guest Editor
Dr. Alison Marsh (Website)

School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue focuses on innovative technology used in remote sensing of the terrestrial or land surface. The Earth Observation Technology Cluster is an initiative to promote development and communication in this field (www.eotechcluster.org.uk). The observation or measurement of some property of the land surface is central to a wide range of scientific investigations conducted in many different disciplines, and in practice there is much consistency in the instruments used for observation and the techniques used to map and model the environmental phenomena of interest. Using remote sensing technology as a unifying theme, this initiative provides an opportunity for presentation of novel developments from, and cross-fertilisation of ideas between, the many and diverse members of the terrestrial remote sensing community. The scope of the special issue covers the full range of remote sensing operation, from new platform and sensor development, through image retrieval and analysis, to data applications and environmental modelling. Example topics include novel remote sensing platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles; emerging instrumentation such as fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and terrestrial LiDAR; modern image retrieval and storage techniques such as networked data transmission and distributed computing; new image analysis and modelling approaches such as hypertemporal observation; and contemporary and significant application areas such as circumpolar and cryospheric remote sensing. Research papers and innovative review papers are invited on any topic under the broad theme of technological developments in remote sensing of the land surface.

Dr. Paul Aplin
Dr. Doreen Sandra Boyd
Dr. Alison Marsh
Guest Editors

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Innovative Technologies for Terrestrial Remote Sensing
Remote Sens. 2015, 7(4), 4968-4972; doi:10.3390/rs70404968
Received: 22 April 2015 / Accepted: 22 April 2015 / Published: 22 April 2015
PDF Full-text (1442 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Characterizing and monitoring terrestrial, or land, surface features, such as forests, deserts, and cities, are fundamental and continuing goals of Earth Observation (EO). EO imagery and related technologies are essential for increasing our scientific understanding of environmental processes, such as carbon capture [...] Read more.
Characterizing and monitoring terrestrial, or land, surface features, such as forests, deserts, and cities, are fundamental and continuing goals of Earth Observation (EO). EO imagery and related technologies are essential for increasing our scientific understanding of environmental processes, such as carbon capture and albedo change, and to manage and safeguard environmental resources, such as tropical forests, particularly over large areas or the entire globe. This measurement or observation of some property of the land surface is central to a wide range of scientific investigations and industrial operations, involving individuals and organizations from many different backgrounds and disciplines. However, the process of observing the land provides a unifying theme for these investigations, and in practice there is much consistency in the instruments used for observation and the techniques used to map and model the environmental phenomena of interest. There is therefore great potential benefit in exchanging technological knowledge and experience among the many and diverse members of the terrestrial EO community. [...] Full article
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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Mapping Complex Urban Land Cover from Spaceborne Imagery: The Influence of Spatial Resolution, Spectral Band Set and Classification Approach
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(2), 88; doi:10.3390/rs8020088
Received: 30 September 2015 / Revised: 23 December 2015 / Accepted: 19 January 2016 / Published: 23 January 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3298 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Detailed land cover information is valuable for mapping complex urban environments. Recent enhancements to satellite sensor technology promise fit-for-purpose data, particularly when processed using contemporary classification approaches. We evaluate this promise by comparing the influence of spatial resolution, spectral band set and [...] Read more.
Detailed land cover information is valuable for mapping complex urban environments. Recent enhancements to satellite sensor technology promise fit-for-purpose data, particularly when processed using contemporary classification approaches. We evaluate this promise by comparing the influence of spatial resolution, spectral band set and classification approach for mapping detailed urban land cover in Nottingham, UK. A WorldView-2 image provides the basis for a set of 12 images with varying spatial and spectral characteristics, and these are classified using three different approaches (maximum likelihood (ML), support vector machine (SVM) and object-based image analysis (OBIA)) to yield 36 output land cover maps. Classification accuracy is evaluated independently and McNemar tests are conducted between all paired outputs (630 pairs in total) to determine which classifications are significantly different. Overall accuracy varied between 35% for ML classification of 30 m spatial resolution, 4-band imagery and 91% for OBIA classification of 2 m spatial resolution, 8-band imagery. The results demonstrate that spatial resolution is clearly the most influential factor when mapping complex urban environments, and modern “very high resolution” or VHR sensors offer great advantage here. However, the advanced spectral capabilities provided by some recent sensors, coupled with contemporary classification approaches (especially SVMs and OBIA), can also lead to significant gains in mapping accuracy. Ongoing development in instrumentation and methodology offer huge potential here and imply that urban mapping opportunities will continue to grow. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Testing the Application of Terrestrial Laser Scanning to Measure Forest Canopy Gap Fraction
Remote Sens. 2013, 5(6), 3037-3056; doi:10.3390/rs5063037
Received: 12 April 2013 / Revised: 17 May 2013 / Accepted: 13 June 2013 / Published: 19 June 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (905 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) have the potential to revolutionise measurement of the three-dimensional structure of vegetation canopies for applications in ecology, hydrology and climate change. This potential has been the subject of recent research that has attempted to measure forest biophysical variables [...] Read more.
Terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) have the potential to revolutionise measurement of the three-dimensional structure of vegetation canopies for applications in ecology, hydrology and climate change. This potential has been the subject of recent research that has attempted to measure forest biophysical variables from TLS data, and make comparisons with two-dimensional data from hemispherical photography. This research presents a systematic comparison between forest canopy gap fraction estimates derived from TLS measurements and hemispherical photography. The TLS datasets used in the research were obtained between April 2008 and March 2009 at Delamere Forest, Cheshire, UK. The analysis of canopy gap fraction estimates derived from TLS data highlighted the repeatability and consistency of the measurements in comparison with those from coincident hemispherical photographs. The comparison also showed that estimates computed considering only the number of hits and misses registered in the TLS datasets were consistently lower than those estimated from hemispherical photographs. To examine this difference, the potential information available in the intensity values recorded by TLS was investigated and a new method developed to estimate canopy gap fraction proposed. The new approach produced gap fractions closer to those estimated from hemispherical photography, but the research also highlighted the limitations of single return TLS data for this application. Full article
Open AccessArticle Exploring the Potential for Automatic Extraction of Vegetation Phenological Metrics from Traffic Webcams
Remote Sens. 2013, 5(5), 2200-2218; doi:10.3390/rs5052200
Received: 14 March 2013 / Revised: 2 May 2013 / Accepted: 2 May 2013 / Published: 10 May 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (820 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Phenological metrics are of potential value as direct indicators of climate change. Usually they are obtained via either satellite imaging or ground based manual measurements; both are bespoke and therefore costly and have problems associated with scale and quality. An increase in [...] Read more.
Phenological metrics are of potential value as direct indicators of climate change. Usually they are obtained via either satellite imaging or ground based manual measurements; both are bespoke and therefore costly and have problems associated with scale and quality. An increase in the use of camera networks for monitoring infrastructure offers a means of obtaining images for use in phenological studies, where the only necessary outlay would be for data transfer, storage, processing and display. Here a pilot study is described that uses image data from a traffic monitoring network to demonstrate that it is possible to obtain usable information from the data captured. There are several challenges in using this network of cameras for automatic extraction of phenological metrics, not least, the low quality of the images and frequent camera motion. Although questions remain to be answered concerning the optimal employment of these cameras, this work illustrates that, in principle, image data from camera networks such as these could be used as a means of tracking environmental change in a low cost, highly automated and scalable manner that would require little human involvement. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Generating Virtual Images from Oblique Frames
Remote Sens. 2013, 5(4), 1875-1893; doi:10.3390/rs5041875
Received: 20 February 2013 / Revised: 20 March 2013 / Accepted: 20 March 2013 / Published: 15 April 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (561 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Image acquisition systems based on multi-head arrangement of digital cameras are attractive alternatives enabling a larger imaging area when compared to a single frame camera. The calibration of this kind of system can be performed in several steps or by using simultaneous [...] Read more.
Image acquisition systems based on multi-head arrangement of digital cameras are attractive alternatives enabling a larger imaging area when compared to a single frame camera. The calibration of this kind of system can be performed in several steps or by using simultaneous bundle adjustment with relative orientation stability constraints. The paper will address the details of the steps of the proposed approach for system calibration, image rectification, registration and fusion. Experiments with terrestrial and aerial images acquired with two Fuji FinePix S3Pro cameras were performed. The experiments focused on the assessment of the results of self-calibrating bundle adjustment with and without relative orientation constraints and the effects to the registration and fusion when generating virtual images. The experiments have shown that the images can be accurately rectified and registered with the proposed approach, achieving residuals smaller than one pixel. Full article
Open AccessArticle Azimuth-Variant Signal Processing in High-Altitude Platform Passive SAR with Spaceborne/Airborne Transmitter
Remote Sens. 2013, 5(3), 1292-1310; doi:10.3390/rs5031292
Received: 15 January 2013 / Revised: 19 February 2013 / Accepted: 22 February 2013 / Published: 14 March 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (490 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
High-altitude platforms (HAP) or near-space vehicle offers several advantages over current low earth orbit (LEO) satellite and airplane, because HAP is not constrained by orbital mechanics and fuel consumption. These advantages provide potential for some specific remote sensing applications that require persistent [...] Read more.
High-altitude platforms (HAP) or near-space vehicle offers several advantages over current low earth orbit (LEO) satellite and airplane, because HAP is not constrained by orbital mechanics and fuel consumption. These advantages provide potential for some specific remote sensing applications that require persistent monitoring or fast-revisiting frequency. This paper investigates the azimuth-variant signal processing in HAP-borne bistatic synthetic aperture radar (BiSAR) with spaceborne or airborne transmitter for high-resolution remote sensing. The system configuration, azimuth-variant Doppler characteristics and two-dimensional echo spectrum are analyzed. Conceptual system simulation results are also provided. Since the azimuth-variant BiSAR geometry brings a challenge for developing high precision data processing algorithms, we propose an image formation algorithm using equivalent velocity and nonlinear chirp scaling (NCS) to address the azimuth-variant signal processing problem. The proposed algorithm is verified by numerical simulation results. Full article
Open AccessArticle New Microslice Technology for Hyperspectral Imaging
Remote Sens. 2013, 5(3), 1204-1219; doi:10.3390/rs5031204
Received: 30 October 2012 / Revised: 22 February 2013 / Accepted: 22 February 2013 / Published: 6 March 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (938 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present the results of a project to develop a proof of concept for a novel hyperspectral imager based on the use of advanced micro-optics technology. The technology gives considerably more spatial elements than a classic pushbroom which translates into far more [...] Read more.
We present the results of a project to develop a proof of concept for a novel hyperspectral imager based on the use of advanced micro-optics technology. The technology gives considerably more spatial elements than a classic pushbroom which translates into far more light being integrated per unit of time. This permits us to observe at higher spatial and/or spectral resolution, darker targets and under lower illumination, as in the early morning. Observations of faint glow at night should also be possible but need further studies. A full instrument for laboratory demonstration and field tests has now been built and tested. It has about 10,000 spatial elements and spectra 150 pixel long. It is made of a set of cylindrical fore-optics followed by a new innovative optical system called a microslice Integral Field Unit (IFU) which is itself followed by a standard spectrograph. The fore-optics plus microslice IFU split the field into a large number of small slit-like images that are dispersed in the spectrograph. Our goal is to build instruments with at least hundreds of thousands of spatial elements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Decision Tree and Texture Analysis for Mapping Debris-Covered Glaciers in the Kangchenjunga Area, Eastern Himalaya
Remote Sens. 2012, 4(10), 3078-3109; doi:10.3390/rs4103078
Received: 16 August 2012 / Revised: 26 September 2012 / Accepted: 29 September 2012 / Published: 18 October 2012
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (4887 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study we use visible, short-wave infrared and thermal Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data validated with high-resolution Quickbird (QB) and Worldview2 (WV2) for mapping debris cover in the eastern Himalaya using two independent approaches: (a) a decision [...] Read more.
In this study we use visible, short-wave infrared and thermal Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data validated with high-resolution Quickbird (QB) and Worldview2 (WV2) for mapping debris cover in the eastern Himalaya using two independent approaches: (a) a decision tree algorithm, and (b) texture analysis. The decision tree algorithm was based on multi-spectral and topographic variables, such as band ratios, surface reflectance, kinetic temperature from ASTER bands 10 and 12, slope angle, and elevation. The decision tree algorithm resulted in 64 km2 classified as debris-covered ice, which represents 11% of the glacierized area. Overall, for ten glacier tongues in the Kangchenjunga area, there was an area difference of 16.2 km2 (25%) between the ASTER and the QB areas, with mapping errors mainly due to clouds and shadows. Texture analysis techniques included co-occurrence measures, geostatistics and filtering in spatial/frequency domain. Debris cover had the highest variance of all terrain classes, highest entropy and lowest homogeneity compared to the other classes, for example a mean variance of 15.27 compared to 0 for clouds and 0.06 for clean ice. Results of the texture image for debris-covered areas were comparable with those from the decision tree algorithm, with 8% area difference between the two techniques. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Gigapixel Imaging and Photogrammetry: Development of a New Long Range Remote Imaging Technique
Remote Sens. 2012, 4(10), 3006-3021; doi:10.3390/rs4103006
Received: 18 July 2012 / Revised: 11 September 2012 / Accepted: 26 September 2012 / Published: 10 October 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (13402 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of terrestrial remote imaging techniques, specifically LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) and digital stereo-photogrammetry, are widely proven and accepted for the mapping of geological structure and monitoring of mass movements. The use of such technologies can be limited, however: LiDAR [...] Read more.
The use of terrestrial remote imaging techniques, specifically LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) and digital stereo-photogrammetry, are widely proven and accepted for the mapping of geological structure and monitoring of mass movements. The use of such technologies can be limited, however: LiDAR generally by the cost of acquisition, and stereo-photogrammetry by the tradeoff between possible resolution within the scene versus the spatial extent of the coverage. The objective of this research is to test a hybrid gigapixel photogrammetry method, and investigate optimal equipment configurations for use in mountainous terrain. The scope of the work included field testing at variable ranges, angles, resolutions, and in variable geological and climatologically settings. Original field work was carried out in Canada to test various lenses and cameras, and detailed field mapping excursions were conducted in Norway. The key findings of the research are example data generated by gigapixel photogrammetry, a detailed discussion on optimal photography equipment for gigapixel imaging, and implementations of the imaging possibilities for rockfall mapping. This paper represents a discussion about a new terrestrial 3-dimensional imaging technique. The findings of this research will directly benefit natural hazard mapping programs in which rockfall potential must be recorded and the use of standard 3-dimensional imaging techniques cannot be applied. Full article
Open AccessArticle Capability of C-Band SAR for Operational Wetland Monitoring at High Latitudes
Remote Sens. 2012, 4(10), 2923-2943; doi:10.3390/rs4102923
Received: 28 July 2012 / Revised: 6 September 2012 / Accepted: 21 September 2012 / Published: 1 October 2012
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (10051 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wetlands store large amounts of carbon, and depending on their status and type, they release specific amounts of methane gas to the atmosphere. The connection between wetland type and methane emission has been investigated in various studies and utilized in climate change [...] Read more.
Wetlands store large amounts of carbon, and depending on their status and type, they release specific amounts of methane gas to the atmosphere. The connection between wetland type and methane emission has been investigated in various studies and utilized in climate change monitoring and modelling. For improved estimation of methane emissions, land surface models require information such as the wetland fraction and its dynamics over large areas. Existing datasets of wetland dynamics present the total amount of wetland (fraction) for each model grid cell, but do not discriminate the different wetland types like permanent lakes, periodically inundated areas or peatlands. Wetland types differently influence methane fluxes and thus their contribution to the total wetland fraction should be quantified. Especially wetlands of permafrost regions are expected to have a strong impact on future climate due to soil thawing. In this study ENIVSAT ASAR Wide Swath data was tested for operational monitoring of the distribution of areas with a long-term SW near 1 (hSW) in northern Russia (SW = degree of saturation with water, 1 = saturated), which is a specific characteristic of peatlands. For the whole northern Russia, areas with hSW were delineated and discriminated from dynamic and open water bodies for the years 2007 and 2008. The area identified with this method amounts to approximately 300,000 km2 in northern Siberia in 2007. It overlaps with zones of high carbon storage. Comparison with a range of related datasets (static and dynamic) showed that hSW represents not only peatlands but also temporary wetlands associated with post-forest fire conditions in permafrost regions. Annual long-term monitoring of change in boreal and tundra environments is possible with the presented approach. Sentinel-1, the successor of ENVISAT ASAR, will provide data that may allow continuous monitoring of these wetland dynamics in the future complementing global observations of wetland fraction. Full article

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