Farnborough, UK: Infoterra has mapped the start of spring season using satellite technology. The company has developed phenology and vegetation earth observation service (PHAVEOS) along with its partners Southampton University and INRA France, to monitor seasonal changes in the state of vegetation and has produced a series of maps, which show the British Isles emerging from winter.
This service takes data from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on the European Space Agency (ESA) Envisat satellite and enables Infoterra to generate a series of daily maps showing the intensity of the chlorophyll (green) pigment in the vegetation. These animated maps provide continuous coverage of vegetation across the British Isles, covering all land-based ecosystems and are currently being used to support the work of the Woodland Trust.
The following is the link for the animation maps: Animation narrative
At the start of the first animation, the 1st January map shows a lot of variation across the UK. The level of chlorophyll detected by the satellite is shown in the map colours ranging from cream to brown through yellow and into green, ascending in order of amount of chlorophyll detected.
The legend for the animated images is as follows:
– The bright green areas occur in the uplands of Wales and Scotland and are evergreen forest.
– White areas such as London are where the satellite failed to record vegetation activity because there is relatively little green space.
– Similarly, highland areas of North England, Wales and Scotland are not visible. This could be due to persistent snow cover this winter. As Spring develops company experts expect these gaps to disappear as both more vegetation is exposed and the chlorophyll signal intensifies.
– There is a general decrease in the chlorophyll levels in the vegetation as the map turns browner. This is because chlorophyll is still breaking down because most plants are not actively growing. This is often described as the ‘winter burn’.
The second animation, covering the end of February up to mid-March, shows the peak of the ‘winter burn’ which intensifies until 9th March then rapidly reverses as warmer weather starts to raise soil temperatures. The greening of vegetation rapidly spreads across the country from the south west, northwards and from lowland areas to higher ground.