Remote sensing has become a critically important tool for researchers who study Earth’s ecosystems and minerals. In particular, imaging spectroscopy – or the measurement of many, continuous spectral channels across visible and non-visible wavelengths – and thermal infrared imagery are essential for inferring plant health, ecosystem function, biodiversity, and solid earth research. Reviewing the requirements of the NASA Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) Designated Observable, a proposed global imaging spectroscopy and thermal infrared Earth Observing satellite, over 130 scientists reviewed the current state of imaging spectroscopy algorithms and state-of-the-art methods for remote sensing of surface, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Regular monitoring of the state, functioning and biodiversity of Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal aquatic ecosystems is essential for understanding the impacts of severe weather, disturbance, and climate change on natural resources, potential feedbacks to climate and the management of resources, and defining policy. Remote sensing technologies are essential for large-scale monitoring, but current satellite platforms are insufficient to fill this need. The SBG Designated Observable, a novel combination of high spatial resolution spectral and thermal infrared imagery, is uniquely designed to address these challenges and provide key observations for studying hydrological, ecological, weather, climate and solid earth dynamics.
Monitoring Earth’s diverse natural resources and managed ecosystems is a significant challenge but essential for balancing the maintenance of health, diversity and resource utilization. Vegetation plays a key role in regulating climate and weather, while the state and health of freshwater and coastal ecosystems impacts global circulation patterns, as well as fisheries and recreation. Scientists and policy makers require tools to provide the information needed to understand how the Earth is changing and to define management strategies for the maintenance of biodiversity. The 2017-2027 National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey, Thriving on our Changing Planet, identified the critical need for a global imaging spectrometer (IS) combined with a multi-spectral thermal infrared (TIR) imager with a high spatial resolution (~30 meters for the IS and ~60 meters for the TIR) and sub-monthly temporal resolution. The Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) Designated Observable is designed to meet the needs for regular mapping of the state and changes in Earth’s resources. A team of more than 130 scientists synthesized applications and methods for using SBG to provide the observations needed to inform science and management strategies. The team also identified the necessary next steps needed to prepare for an operational SBG-like satellite to monitor Earth.
BER Program Manager: Daniel Stover, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division (SC-33.1), Environmental System Science, Daniel.Stover@science.doe.gov
Brian Benscoter, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division (SC-33.1), Environmental System Science, Brian.Benscoter@science.doe.gov
Principal Investigator: Shawn P. Serbin, Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, firstname.lastname@example.org (+1 631-344-3165)
Support to the lead authors (Cawse-Nicholson and Townsend) was provided by NASA Headquarters and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. This study was also supported by the Space-based Imaging Spectroscopy and Thermal (SISTER) pathfinder, part of the Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) project, a NASA Earth Science Designated Observable. Adam Erickson’s contribution was supported by an appointment to the NASA Postdoctoral Program at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, administered by Universities Space Research Association under contract with NASA. Robert Frouin was supported by NASA’s Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program under various grants. The contribution of Michael E. Schaepman is supported by the University of Zurich Research Priority Programme on Global Change and Biodiversity (URPP GCB). Shawn Serbin was supported by the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments in the Arctic (NGEE-Arctic) and tropics (NGEE-Tropics) that are supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Department of Energy, Office of Science, and through the U.S. DOE contract No. DE-SC0012704 to Brookhaven National Laboratory. The authors thank the other members of the SBG Algorithms Working Group, constituting more than 130 researchers, who participated in telecons and webinars to contribute to the contents of this paper. Two anonymous reviewers provided invaluable insight and recommendations, and we are grateful for their time and suggestions. Part of the research described in this paper was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. © 2021 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship is acknowledged.
Cawse-Nicholson, K., P. A. Townsend, D. Schimel, A. M. Assiri, P. L. Blake, M. F. Buongiorno, P. Campbell, N. Carmon, K. A. Casey, R. E. Correa-Pabón, K. M. Dahlin, H. Dashti, P. E. Dennison, H. Dierssen, A. Erickson, J. B. Fisher, R. Frouin, C. K. Gatebe, H. Gholizadeh, M. Gierach, N. F. Glenn, J. A. Goodman, D. M. Griffith, L. Guild, C. R. Hakkenberg, E. J. Hochberg, T. R. H. Holmes, C. Hu, G. Hulley, K. F. Huemmrich, R. M. Kudela, R. F. Kokaly, C. M. Lee, R. Martin, C. E. Miller, W. J. Moses, F. E. Muller-Karger, J. D. Ortiz, D. B. Otis, N. Pahlevan, T. H. Painter, R. Pavlick, B. Poulter, Y. Qi, V. J. Realmuto, D. Roberts, M. E. Schaepman, F. D. Schneider, F. M. Schwandner, S. P. Serbin, A. N. Shiklomanov, E. N. Stavros, D. R. Thompson, J. L. Torres-Perez, K. R. Turpie, M. Tzortziou, S. Ustin, Q. Yu, Y. Yusup, and Q. Zhang. 2021. “NASA’s surface biology and geology designated observable: A perspective on surface imaging algorithms”. Remote Sensing of Environment 257, 112349.[DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112349]
Article URL (open-source article): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0034425721000675?via%3Dihub
Article DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112349
NASA Surface Biology and Geology Designated Observable: https://sbg.jpl.nasa.gov/
Remote Sensing of Plant Biodiversity: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-030-33157-3
Serbin S.P., Townsend P.A. (2020) Scaling Functional Traits from Leaves to Canopies. In: Cavender-Bares J., Gamon J.A., Townsend P.A. (eds) Remote Sensing of Plant Biodiversity. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-33157-3_3