Application of Fuzzy Models for the Monitoring of Ecologically Sensitive Ecosystems in a Dynamic Semi-arid Landscape from Satellite Imagery

Engineering Computations, 2010, Volume 27, Issue 1, Pages 5 – 19

Meng-Lung Lin and Cheng-Wu Chen

“Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to better understand landscape dynamics in arid and semi-arid environments. Land degradation has recently become an important issue for land management in western China. The oasis ecosystem is especially sensitive to environmental disturbances, such as abnormal/extreme precipitation events, variations in the water supply from the upper watersheds, fluctuations in temperature, etc. Satellite remote sensing of terrestrial ecosystems can provide us with the temporal dynamics and spatial distributions of green cover over large areas of landscape. Seasonal green cover data are especially important in assessing landscape health (e.g. desertification, rate of urban sprawl, natural disturbances) in arid and semi-arid regions. In this study, green cover data are derived from vegetation indices retrieved from moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors onboard the satellite Terra.

“Design/methodology/approach – Satellite images recorded during the period from April 2000 to December 2005 are analyzed and the spatial distribution and temporal changes of the Ejin Oasis quantified.

“Findings – This study shows that it is possible to derive important parameters linked to landscape sensitivity from MODIS and the derived imagery, such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time-series data. Such a MODIS-based time-series monitoring system is particularly useful in arid and semi-arid environments. The results of landscape sensitivity analysis prove the effectiveness of the method in assessing landscape sensitivity from the years 2001-2005.

“Practical implications – The novel strategy used in this investigation is based on the T-S fuzzy model, which is in turn based on fuzzy theory and fuzzy operations.

“Originality/value – Simulation results based on fuzzy models will help to improve the monitoring techniques used to evaluate land degradation and to estimate the newest tendency in landscape green cover dynamics in the Ejin Oasis.”

Chesapeake Bay Restoration Tracked with GIS Accountability Tool

ChesapeakeStat on ArcGIS Server Provides Insight about Action Plan Status

The Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) has launched ChesapeakeStat, a management and accountability tool. Esri and CBP developed the geographic information system (GIS)-enabled Web site that provides the public, decision makers, and restoration stakeholders with up-to-date information about the progress of government-funded restoration and conservation projects for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Built partly on ArcGIS Server, ChesapeakeStat includes a public Web site that promotes accountability, fosters coordination, and increases transparency by sharing performance information on goals, indicators, strategies, and funding. CBP partners also use the site for analyzing information and data so they can better assess progress toward goals and adapt new strategies and tactics.

“Esri has been instrumental in developing the successful StateStat and BayStat models that Maryland developed under the leadership of governor Martin O’Malley,” explains John Wolf, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and GIS team leader of CBP. “It was a natural step to work with Esri staff in the design of our project. GIS is a tool for showing people what agencies are doing and how they are spending money. But this project takes it a step further. People can see in a geographic context how an agency’s goals, strategies, and outcomes are being accomplished.”

ChesapeakeStat was created to provide an open and transparent way to assess and show progress toward restoration goals and adapt the CBP partnership approach when needed. The development of ChesapeakeStat was also called for in the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, developed in response to President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13508, issued in May 2009.

ChesapeakeStat organizes information around the CBP goal areas of sustainable fisheries, healthy habitats, water quality, healthy watersheds, and Chesapeake stewardship. By selecting from tabs for performance measures, strategies, priorities, actions, and funding, each of the program’s goal areas can be further drilled into to show data about specific topics and issues. A person using ChesapeakeStat will eventually be able to zoom in to an area and see the watershed’s hot spots, then drill down into smaller watershed units to see what is happening in specific areas.

“The Chesapeake Bay affects 64,000 square miles of habitat and 17 million people. Restoration efforts are crucial,” says Robin Smith, Ph.D., Esri’s environmental management solutions manager. “Esri is highly supportive of CBP’s ChesapeakeStat model. It makes government information easily discoverable and simple to use. Using GIS to track expenditures and progress is another step forward in geoenabling government programs to meet their goals.”

The site meets various levels of consumer need. The public and media may only want to see aggregated interpreted data for general information, whereas a scientist can access highly detailed data for research. Local watershed groups can use the site to better understand how their actions relate to the overall restoration efforts for the bay. A government agency may want to use the site as an adaptive management tool to evaluate success and decide if resources should be shifted from one location to another or possibly even from one program to another.

[Source: ESRI press release]

Achieving Forest Carbon Information with Higher Certainty: A Five-part Plan

Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 13, Issue 3, May 2010, Pages 249-260

D. James Baker, Gary Richards, Alan Grainger, Patrick Gonzalez, Sandra Brown, Ruth DeFries, Alexander Held, Josef Kellndorfer, Peter Ndunda, Dennis Ojima, Per-Erik Skrovseth, Carlos Souza Jr., and Fred Stollem

“International negotiations on the inclusion of land use activities into an emissions reduction system for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been partially hindered by the technical challenges of measuring, reporting, and verifying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the policy issues of leakage, additionality, and permanence. This paper outlines a five-part plan for estimating forest carbon stocks and emissions with the accuracy and certainty needed to support a policy forReducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, forest conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (the REDD-plus framework considered at the UNFCCC COP-15) in developing countries. The plan is aimed at UNFCCC non-Annex 1 developing countries, but the principles outlined are also applicable to developed (Annex 1) countries. The parts of the plan are: (1) Expand the number of national forest carbon Measuring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) systems with a priority on tropical developing countries; (2) Implement continuous global forest carbon assessments through the network of national systems; (3) Achieve commitments from national space agencies for the necessary satellite data; (4) Establish agreed-on standards and independent verification processes to ensure robust reporting; and (5) Enhance coordination among international and multilateral organizations.”

P-DBSCAN: A Density Based Clustering Algorithm for Exploration and Analysis of Attractive Areas Using Collections of Geo-tagged Photos

Proceedings of the 1st International Conference and Exhibition on Computing for Geospatial Research & Application, Washington, D.C., 2010

Slava Kisilevich, Florian Mansmann, and Daniel Keim

“The rapid spread of location-based devices and cheap storage mechanisms, as well as fast development of Internet technology, allowed collection and distribution of huge amounts of user-generated data, such as people’s movement or geo-tagged photos. These types of data produce new challenges for research in different application domains. In many cases, new algorithms should be devised to better portray the phenomena under investigation. In this paper, we present P-DBSCAN, a new density-based clustering algorithm based on DBSCAN for analysis of places and events using a collection of geo-tagged photos. We thereby introduce two new concepts: (1) density threshold, which is defined according to the number of people in the neighborhood, and (2) adaptive density, which is used for fast convergence towards high density regions. Our approach is demonstrated on the area of Washington, D.C.”

Use of Land Facets to Plan for Climate Change: Conserving the Arenas, Not the Actors

Conservation Biology, 24: 701-710, 2010

P. Beier and B. Brost

“Even under the most optimistic scenarios, during the next century human-caused climate change will threaten many wild populations and species. The most useful conservation response is to enlarge and link protected areas to support range shifts by plants and animals. To prioritize land for reserves and linkages, some scientists attempt to chain together four highly uncertain models (emission scenarios, global air–ocean circulation, regional circulation, and biotic response). This approach has high risk of error propagation and compounding and produces outputs at a coarser scale than conservation decisions. Instead, we advocate identifying land facets—recurring landscape units with uniform topographic and soil attributes—and designing reserves and linkages for diversity and interspersion of these units. This coarse-filter approach would conserve the arenas of biological activity, rather than the temporary occupants of those arenas. Integrative, context-sensitive variables, such as insolation and topographic wetness, are useful for defining land facets. Classification procedures such as k-means or fuzzy clustering are a good way to define land facets because they can analyze millions of pixels and are insensitive to case order. In regions lacking useful soil maps, river systems or riparian plants can indicate important facets. Conservation planners should set higher representation targets for rare and distinctive facets. High interspersion of land facets can promote ecological processes, evolutionary interaction, and range shift. Relevant studies suggest land-facet diversity is a good surrogate for today’s biodiversity, but fails to conserve some species. To minimize such failures, a reserve design based on land facets should complement, rather than replace, other approaches. Designs based on land facets are not biased toward data-rich areas and can be applied where no maps of land cover exist.”