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Fujitsu uses hyperspectral images for eco-study

Kawasaki, Japan: Fujitsu Laboratories developed an imaging technique which aims to improve the accuracy of plant identification with aerial hyperspectral images. The company claims that the newly developed technology makes possible the accurate identification of plant species in an area without on-the-ground inspections of river beds or forests.
According to Fujitsu, up until now, most plant studies have either been on-the-ground surveys by experts or remote studies using satellite photos. But expert surveys are costly and remote surveys lack precision. 
Under conventional methods for distinguishing trees, aerial images taken at a height of approximately 500-2,000 meter by a hyperspectral camera-equipped helicopter are used to measure the wavelength range of the near-infrared reflectance spectrum from the emitted light. 
The species of trees can be identified by comparing that data with a predetermined reference spectrum for each species of tree. However, as the spectral images of the trees capture not just sunlight but also the reflected light from individual leaves and trees in a forest, resulting in mixed light emission readings, the reflectance spectrum pattern from the same species of tree may differ depending on the location of individual trees. 
This made it impossible to precisely distinguish trees by using only one reference spectrum for each species.
Fujitsu’s technique is enhances the precision of tree species identification by creating multiple reference spectra to correspond to different reflectance spectra under varying irradiance conditions. 
By analysing the aerial hyperspectral images against this reference data, it is possible to distinguish among even very similar species of trees with high precision.
The new technology uses aerial images to produce accurate studies, both quickly and cost-effectively, showing the distinction and status of native versus non-native plants in a given area, or the distribution of different species of trees in a forest. 
In future, the company expects that the technology will be used in a variety of fields, such as in the production of vegetation maps in locations that are difficult to access, or to accurately assess CO2 absorption levels in forests that have a mixture of different species of trees with different CO2 absorption rates.
Source: Fujitsu