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There is a tremendous need for understanding the state of our natural ecosystems. This need has been exacerbated due to the known decline in biodiversity and natural resources, in part due to Land use conversion, degradation of land and Ocean systems and climate change.
Although it is widely known that the terrestrial and ocean ecosystems are changing and tools have been developed to try to quantifying those changes we are still facing a lack of tools and indices that allow us to go beyond quantifying number of species, fragments, sizes and other spatial components towards finer structural, morphological and chemical aspects. Developing knowledge about the above highlighted aspects can improve our understanding about the processes of nature recovery and health of our ecosystems the process of nature recovery the process of nature recovery at small and large spatial extents.
We use Remote Sensing and in general Earth Observation as the science that quantifies aspects of an ecosystem without being in direct contact with it. Up to now we have mostly used remote sensing products to quantify discrete aspects of local and global areas, such as counting the number of fragments in a landscape, its connectivity, distance between fragments and sizes, and for characterizing land use and quantifying its changes. Besides generating those common landscape metrics we are also using satellite and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) remote sensing to bring a novel understanding on the structure, morphology and chemistry of land ecosystems across space and time. With our new approaches we are gaining a new understanding on ecosystem health, their paths to recovery and their resilience to global environmental change.
We use multi/hyperspectral and vegetation structure from LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors mounted in drones which imagine the landscapes at extremely high spatial and spectral resolution of a few centimetres. We also make use of state of the art satellite earth observation to extrapolate our local findings to the regional and global extents. We are currently specially working with the Copernicus constellation of Sentinel satellites from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Landsat satellites and GEDI LiDAR (Global Ecosystem Dynamic Investigation) missions from NASA.