New environmental observation methods see the forest for the trees

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MSU researchers in China. (view larger image)

A marriage in the remote forests of China promises to unite two important forces to better inform the health and future of biodiversity. The union is reported in this week’s journal Ecological Indicators by Michigan State University (MSU) researchers.

The marriage is between powerful data – the big-picture spaceship view of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, which sweeps the Earth’s entire surface every one to two days, and Landsat, which focuses on smaller pieces of land, but only produces pictures every 16 days.

Like the best marriages, this combination in essence completes the view. Researchers at MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) have achieved a way to combine the best of MODIS and Landsat images and, working with information taken on the ground, show a new, more robust understanding of how biodiversity is changing. In this case: in China’s Wolong Nature Reserve, a biodiversity hotspot that’s home to the endangered, and beloved, giant panda.

This research is funded by MSU AgBioResearch, NASA and the National Science Foundation. MSU AgBioResearch scientist and CSIS director Jianguo “Jack” Liu coauthored the paper.

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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