TERN Landscapes

TERN’s Landscapes platform conducts environmental monitoring using remote sensing techniques to characterise and monitor Australian ecosystems at a landscape and continental scale.

The platform also undertakes modelling and synthesis activities to extrapolate and interpolate from observational data to produce modelled data products.

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Data, Tools, Services & Equipment

TERN Landscapes data streams are used to characterise and detect change relating to vegetation structure and composition, land cover and bushfire dynamics and impacts. The platform also includes data and mapping products from TERN’s Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia, which provides easy access to nationally-consistent and comprehensive soil and landscape attribute data.

  • Land cover dynamics and Phenology
  • Vegetation composition and diversity
  • Fire dynamics and impacts
  • Vegetation structural properties and Biomass
  • Field survey datasets
  • Airborne datasets
  • Corrected surface reflectance products
  • Other environmental data such as solar radiation, rainfall, and water vapour pressure
  • Bulk Density
  • Organic Carbon
  • Clay
  • Silt
  • Sand
  • pH (water)
  • pH (CaCl2)
  • Available Water Capacity
  • Total Nitrogen
  • Total Phosphorus
  • Effective Cation
  • Exchange Capacity
  • Depth of Regolith
  • Depth of Soil
  • Coarse Fragments
  • Slope (%)
  • Slope (%) Median 200m Radius
  • Slope Relief Classification
  • Aspect
  • Relief 1000m Radius
  • Relief 300m Radius
  • Topographic Wetness Index
  • Topographic Position Index
  • Partial Contributing Area
  • Multi-resolution Valley Bottom Flatness (MrVBF)
  • Plan Curvature
  • Profile Curvature
  • Prescott Index
  • Solar Radiation (SRAD) Net Radiation January
  • SRAD Net Radiation July
  • SRAD Total Shortwave Sloping Surface January
  • SRAD Total Shortwave Sloping Surface July
Soil Moisture Monitoring

TERN Landscapes is working with its partners on the production, refinement and provision of national-scale soil moisture data. Accurate soil moisture data can improve weather forecasts, help monitor droughts, predict bushfires and floods, improve agricultural productivity, and enable more accurate budgeting of water, energy and carbon.

Australian Cosmic-Ray Neutron Soil Moisture Monitoring Network (CosmOz)

One of the key on-ground components of TERN’s soil moisture monitoring infrastructure is the CSIRO-led CosmOz soil moisture network—a network of COSMOS (Cosmic-ray Soil Moisture Observing System) sensors at sites around Australia, including several TERN SuperSites.

The sensors use cosmic rays originating from outer space to measure average soil moisture over an area of about 30 hectares to depths in the soil of between 10 to 50 cm. This constitutes a quantum leap over conventional on-ground soil moisture sensing technology that can only measure soil moisture content within small volumes of soil.

In 2020, the CosmOz soil moisture network, which is led by CSIRO, is set to be expanded from 16 to 23 sites.

Soil Moisture Integration and Prediction System (SMIPS)

TERN and its partners are developing a revolutionary Soil Moisture Integration and Prediction System (SMIPS).  SMIPS will incorporate existing data from TERN’s Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia, remotely-sensed rainfall data and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) climate data with soil moisture data collected by on-ground monitoring equipment at TERN and partner sites around Australia (including from the CosmOz network).  It will also link in continuous satellite soil moisture data from the European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) Earth Explorer mission.

The SMIPS system is being developed thanks to investments by TERN, CSIRO, ANU, and BoM. The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is supporting future work, bringing in new partners from University of Sydney and the University of Southern Queensland to further develop and refine the existing SMIPS prototype.

Calibration and Validation

TERN Landscapes has undertaken field and airborne campaigns within selected Australian biomes since January 2011 as part of its calibration and validation program to support the production of continental scale satellite based time-series data of biophysical parameters.

Many national and international approaches were reviewed during the development phase. The field and airborne data collection approaches and protocols developed have been based on their suitability and adaptability to different Australian environments while still upholding national and international standards. The data collection approaches used are presented in the TERN’s Effective Field Calibration and Validation Practices handbook

  • Site Name:
  • Alice Mulga
  • Site Location:
  • 165 km north-northwest of Alice Springs, Northern Territory
  • Environment:
  • Mulga (Acacia aneura) canopy, which is 6.5m tall on average. See also http://www.tern-supersites.net.au/supersites/alic


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  • Site Name:
  • Tumbarumba
  • Site Location:
  • South eastern New South Wales, 100 km south west of Canberra
  • Environment:
  • Temperate wet sclerophyll eucalypt forest with average tree height of 40 m. Eucalyptus delegatensis is the dominant species.


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  • Site Name:
  • Chowilla (Calperum Mallee)
  • Site Location:
  • North of the River Murray floodplains near Renmark, South Australia
  • Environment:
  • Semi-arid mallee ecosystem in dune and swale system covered with an open mallee woodland upper story with a chenopod and native grass understory.


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  • Site Name:
  • Credo (Great Western Woodlands)
  • Site Location:
  • Great Western Woodland 500 km north west of Perth, Western Australia
  • Environment:
  • Open woodland inter-dispersed with open, treeless areas. The main vegetation species are Salmon Gums reaching up to 20 m and Gimlet between 5-10 m, both with little understory. Salt bush and similar shrubs are also prevalent.


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  • Site Name:
  • Litchfield
  • Site Location:
  • 80 km south of Darwin, Northern Territory
  • Environment:
  • Savanna, eucalypt open forests, dominated by Eucalyptus miniata and Eucalyptus tetrodonta.


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  • Site Name:
  • Robson Creek
  • Site Location:
  • Lamb Range in the Wet Tropics World Heritage area 25 km south west of Cairns, Queensland
  • Environment:
  • Upland rainforest region at 700 m elevation. Notophyll vine forest with a tall canopy at around 40 m and high species diversity.


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  • Site Name:
  • South East Queensland
  • Site Location:
  • Multiple sites in South East Queensland, located in the Samford Valley, Karawatha Forest, and two mangrove sites near Brisbane Airport.
  • Environment:
  • Samford site: on an improved (Paspalum dilatum) pasture with tall eucalypt species. Karawatha Forest: bushland with tall eucalypt species and patches of heathlands and Melaleuca sp swamps. Mangrove sites: within Moreton Bay with Avicennia marina being the dominant mangrove.


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  • Site Name:
  • Warra
  • Site Location:
  • 60 km east-southeast of Hobart, Tasmania
  • Environment:
  • 2-6 Feb 2015 homogenous tall, wet Eucalyptus obliqua forest with wet sclerophyll and rainforest understorey.


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  • Site Name:
  • Injune
  • Site Location:
  • 170 km northwest of Roma, central southeast Queensland
  • Environment:
  • Low open woodland and open forest ecosystem. Forests with Eucalyptus species dominate in the more productive soils, occurs on the poorer sandy soils, and Brigalow occurs on clay soils. Iron barks are frequent within the open forests.
  • Site Name:
  • Fowler’s Gap
  • Site Location:
  • 110 km north of Broken Hill, NSW
  • Environment:
  • Arid rangelands ecosystem within a long term ecological monitoring research station. 
  • Site Name:
  • Rushworth Forest
  • Site Location:
  • 120 km north of Melbourne, Victoria
  • Environment:
  • Open forest of red iron bark, red stringybark, red box, long leaf box and grey box.
  • Site Name:
  • Watts Creek
  • Site Location:
  • 70 km east of Melbourne, Victoria
  • Environment:
  • Open forest with a eucalypt over storey greater than 40 m in height consisting mainly of mountain ash.
  • Site Name:
  • Zig Zag Creek
  • Site Location:
  • Eastern Victoria 300 km east of Melbourne, Victoria
  • Environment:
  • Dominated by shrubby dry forest and damp forest on the upland slopes, wet forest ecosystems restricted to the higher altitudes and grassy woodlands. Grassy dry forest ecosystems are associated with river valleys.
Management

Mr Mike Grundy

Landscapes Platform Co-Lead

Dr Alex Held

Landscapes Platform Co-Lead

Mr Matt Stenson

Technical Coordinator