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Remote Sensing for Ecology and ConservationA Handbook of Techniques$
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Ned Horning, Julie A. Robinson, Eleanor J. Sterling, Woody Turner, and Sacha Spector

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199219940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199219940.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Global Conservation

Global Conservation

(p.350) 15 Global Conservation
Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation

Ned Horning

Julie A. Robinson

Eleanor J. Sterling

Woody Turner

Sacha Spector

Oxford University Press

On 24 December 1968, as they watched the half-illuminated earthrise over the surface of the moon, the crew of the Apollo 8 lunar mission captured an image that changed humankind’s view of our planet and our place on it. The earthrise image and other iconic global images like the “blue marble” photo taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972 gave us, for the first time, a global view of our fragile home within the vastness of space. These early global images helped promote environmental awareness around the world and were instrumental in the development of the field of remote sensing (Lowman 1999). However, it would take some time for the research community to compile and use global-scale imagery from space in the ecological sciences. Improvements in passive and active remote sensing systems placed in orbit by national governments and the growing commercial satellite sector have given us an “end-to-end” remote sensing capability that allows us to make measurements of important environmental phenomena from very local to global spatial scales (of course, airborne remote sensing systems have long enhanced our ability to capture information at local scales). Data depicting the social and economic drivers of biodiversity loss are also available globally from a variety of sources. These different data sets can now be brought together with powerful, affordable, spatially referenced computing technologies, e.g., GIS and GPS, which were unimaginable when the Apollo missions sent back their images. The entire Apollo spacecraft’s computing power was less than that of today’s mobile phone. Taken together, these advances have made it possible to grapple with the complexities and scale of addressing conservation challenges at the global level. This chapter elaborates the role of remote sensing as one among several catalysts driving the development of new approaches to ecology and conservation biology at the global level. In the early 1980s, NASA initiated its Global Habitability program (NASA 1983; Waldrop 1986; Running et al. 2004). This program sought to answer the big question of how the biosphere partitions its energy and mass.

Keywords:   canopy, ecological forecasting, footprint, land covers, mapping, observation, phytoplankton, scale, vegetation type, water quality

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