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Data users run through the paces of remote-sensing tools

The people who use the field, airborne and satellite image products that are being generated by AusCover’s Perth node gathered at a workshop on 8 December to review the remote-sensing tools AusCover makes available.

AusCover made the most of the opportunity to also provide examples of the way Western Australian organisations have used these products for monitoring and management.

The workshop was held to acquaint the 32 participants, especially new users, with the tools available for them to access TERN AusCover datasets. It covered four areas of research: vegetation health, the smoke from bushfires, dredging, and dust storms.

The first application of AusCover products related to using time-series remotely sensed products to support long-term monitoring of vegetation health at the TERN flux tower sites in Western Australia. Mr Mark Gray, from Curtin University, outlined new 19-band reflectance time series that was available for the supersites. Dr Richard Silberstein, from CSIRO Land and Water at Floreat, WA, explained the role of flux towers, and the measurements being taken at Gingin and that will also be taken at Credo. Both flux towers are in WA. Dr Silberstein reviewed the links between fluxes, vegetation production and remote sensing in understanding ecosystem performance.

The second theme was on monitoring the impact of smoke plumes from bushfires on urban environments. One of the biggest concerns is the possible links to people’s health, particularly respiratory. Ms Helen Chedzey, from Curtin University, led discussion on detection methods. Dr Al Riebau of Nine Points South spoke on Australian and United States experiences of bushfire management, and the role and value of remotely sensed information.

For the third theme, participants looked at monitoring sediments suspended as a result of coastal dredging. Dr Peter Fearns, from Curtin University, talked about monitoring sediment plumes using remotely sensed data and in situ observations. Mr Richard Evans of the Marine Branch of the Department of Environment and Conservation outlined the in situ activities being undertaken at several offshore projects in WA. He stressed the need for continued monitoring, appropriate legislation and management to control these activities, and underlined the value of remotely sensed observations in such activities.

The fourth area addressed the challenge of building a dust storm climatology for Western Australia using remotely sensed products to support agricultural land-management practices. Mr Mark Broomhall, from Curtin University, used examples to outline the types of remotely sensed image products that could be produced using MODIS data. Dr Dan Carter, at Resource Risk Assessment Mitigation in the Department of Food and Agriculture WA (DAFWA) discussed the properties of soils and the physical conditions that lead to dust storms starting. He also talked about the observational program DAFWA is conducting.

Mr Luke Edwards overviewed the means of finding and accessing TERN products, and offered to help potential users start searching and using TERN data. He has much experience to offer, as he undertakes data and metadata activities for IMOS, TERN, iVEC, the Western Australian Marine Science Institution and Curtin University.

The workshop finished with participants discussing the most appropriate remotely sensed products for their needs.

For more information, contact the Perth node leader, Professor Mervyn Lynch, by email or phone on (08) 9266 7540.

Published in TERN e-Newsletter December 2011

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