Expertise centre for monitoring changes in terrestrial ecosystems via earth observation



This project is a continuation of the scientific research in Belgium which is leading to the definition of products and services within the GMES perspective.

The proposal is submitted by a consortium composed of

(I) the Remote sensing expertise centre of the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Vito),
(ii) the Geography Department of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and
(iii) the Forest, Nature and Landscape laboratory, Land Management Department of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL).

These three partners have combined their complementary expertise into one consortium in order to guarantee an advanced study of terrestrial ecosystems via earth observation. Vito contributes its expertise in pre- and post-processing of low-resolution images, and the estimation of terrestrial productivity and associated carbon fluxes deriving therefrom. As an internationally recognised research centre in the observation of land use and changes in land cover, UCL contributes its expertise in processing-based changes in land use and ecosystem models which lead to determination of the impact of such changes and to the extraction of information relevant for policy. KUL contributes its expertise in the development of models which provide quantitative information on diversity in vegetation processes and parameters, from the foliage level upwards to greater spatial scales.

The consortium has ongoing collaborative contacts with leading international partners in the research and user environment (e.g. EC-JRC, IGBP/IHDP LUCC project, GOFC programme) and is already extending its network to recent initiatives in neighbouring countries (e.g. the POSTEL project in France: "Projet d´Observation des Surfaces Terrestres aux Echelles Larges"). With the implementation of the proposed "Expertise centre for monitoring changes in terrestrial ecosystems via earth observation", the consortium will strengthen the Belgian position within the challenging post-Baveno, -Lille and -Stockholm era.


The general objective of this project is to improve the understanding of terrestrial ecosystems by
(I) developing remote sensing-based measurements of important surface attributes,
(ii) analysing the time course of these metrics on seasonal, annual and ten-day time scales, and
(iii) relating these metrics to ecosystems and thereby delivering a scientific basis for the development of a number of products and operational services which are currently required by international initiatives led by ESA and the EC (GMES).

The proposed research therefore also concentrates on the search for a flexible transition from experimental to operational systems, so as to arrive at an operational service to provide data and information relating to safety and the environment. In particular, the proposed research activities include

(I) the establishment of a unique archive composed of long-term NOAA-AVHRR time series of high quality and later SPOT-VEGETATION data for specific regions in the world, together with an additional archive containing supplemental information,
(ii) an improved extraction of biophysical parameters and variables of the vegetation state of the data set,
(iii) the development, validation and interpretation of a land cover change product,
(iv) an improved determination of net primary productivity and net ecosystem productivity for forests and major world food harvests, and
(v) the development of a product for fire susceptibility and a re-greening index for monitoring vegetation-regrowth after a natural disaster.

The proposed research activities will lead to the definition (specifications for algorithms and processing chains) of at least 3 and probably 4 or 5 added-value products or services which can be made available to the end users of the OSTC programme "Demonstration of an operational service". The foreseen added-value products are: "land cover change map", "global ten-day NPP", "en-day dry material estimation product", "Kyoto carbon service", "three-day fire susceptibility indicator" and a "re-greening index for post-natural disaster monitoring". These products will be generated for the African and European continents. We will explore the possibility of expanding the product generation to a global scale by means of test products.



Name Role Start End
Van Speybroeck, Dirk member
Lambin, Eric member
Coppin, Pol member


Name Role Start End
Land change & remote sensing member

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

© 2012 by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform