7 March 2007 – Clark Labs recently received a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop a system for analyzing time series of remotely sensed images to infer changes in biodiversity and ecosystem function.
The result will be a protocol and software system that will permit scientists and conservationists to monitor ecosystem responses to a wide range of anthropogenic disturbances such as land cover conversion and climate change.
“This grant makes possible not only the development of an early warning system to predict changes in biodiversity and ecosystem function, but it also serves as a means to inform a number of important policy and management questions posed by scientists and decision makers. Clark Labs is known worldwide for their experience on time series analysis of remotely sensed imagery and has an established history of research in this area using unique algorithms for data analysis,” said Luis A. Solórzano, PhD, Senior Science Program Officer for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Researchers at Clark Labs are exploring a range of image archives for the system, including the NOAA-AVHRR global images of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and a variety of derivative products from the MODIS instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites in NASA’s EOS mission. Similarly they are conducting experiments with a range of time series and data mining tools in the process of developing a protocol.
A particular challenge in the development of the system is the ability to separate ecosystem signals from noise (most particularly opaque and partially transparent clouds) and to be able to separate the short- and intermediate-term climate variations from longer-term trends.
“Loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services is one of the most challenging problems we face,” emphasized Dr. Ron Eastman, principal investigator on the grant. “Developing the technology to monitor these changes will be an important first step in addressing the problem.”
In the final stages of the process, Clark Labs will develop an interactive software product that will allow ecologists and conservation biologists to analyze any area of interest for trends in ecosystem response, including changes in productivity and phenology.
– About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation and cutting-edge scientific research around the world and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit www.moore.org.
– About Clark Labs
Clark Labs (http://www.clarklabs.org) is based within the world-renowned Graduate School of Geography at Clark University and is the developer of the IDRISI GIS and Image Processing software.