Remote sensing-based environmental assessment and monitoring – generation of operational baseline and enhanced experimental products in southern Africa


The spatial extension of the countries covered by SASSCAL, the diversity of their landscapes, and the range of social and ecological processes, constitute a challenge to environmental research. The latter have sometimes needed to focus on small test sites for very specifi c questions, or else required data and methods that allowed large area assessments. In either situation it is important that the studies are founded on consistent and comparable data. Responding to this requirement, a range of products based on operational earth observation satellite systems has been developed in the frame of SASSCAL. Here, we introduce the most relevant primary and derived products at coarse (250?500 m MODIS) and medium (30 m Landsat) spatial resolution, describe their basic properties, and provide examples of application as an impetus for further research. At the same time, alternative sources of data and advances in sensor systems off er high potential in complementing information from operational products, or provide further insights into specifi c local questions. We thus briefl y touch upon the potential of such systems, including active sensing and/or airborne technologies such as Synthetic Aperture Radar, Light Detection and Ranging, use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and hyperspectral imaging, and introduce studies carried under SASSCAL using these systems.

Biodiversity & Ecology 6 - Climate change and adaptive landmanagement in southern Africa - assessments, changes, challenges, and solutions