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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, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2021

When to use remote sensing

When to use remote sensing

(p.15) 2 When to use remote sensing
Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation

Ned Horning

Julie A. Robinson

Eleanor J. Sterling

Woody Turner

Sacha Spector

Oxford University Press

Remote sensing technologies can benefit a large number of environmental conservation and management tasks. However, understanding the limitations is as important as understanding the benefits. While appropriate use of remotely sensed data can increase knowledge and expand understanding, inappropriate use can be expensive and create products that mislead, rather than inform. In this chapter we present the benefits as well as technical and practical limitations of remote sensing, emphasizing the importance of clearly understanding the accuracy of remote sensing data and analyses. The chapter concludes with practical advice on how an organization can assess its remote sensing capabilities and, if necessary, work with collaborators to add remote sensing expertise to projects. There is no doubt that satellite and aerial remote sensing has greatly improved our ability to map land cover and to monitor a range of environmental phenomena. Still, there are fundamental limitations of remote sensing that are often understated or overlooked in the professional literature. We want to alert you to some of the limitations as well as highlight the trade-offs between limitations and benefits, some of which may not be intuitive. Throughout the book we present trends in remote sensing research and development to give a sense of how these issues evolve over time. In other chapters, we discuss a number of limitations such as problems related to accurately aligning different imagery with a map base (Chapter 3); recording usable images in areas that are cloudy or hazy (Chapter 4); and recording data beneath a vegetative canopy (Chapter 4) or water surface (Chapters 6 and 7). The issues discussed in this chapter focus on the applicability of remote sensing imagery and its derived products. Some of these issues are technical in nature such as the different qualities that affect how well a feature can be resolved in an image or factors related to image classification. Other limitations are more practical and may depend on the location of a particular project or available resources (financial, time, and human).

Keywords:   accuracy statistics, bare soil, canopy, detector, elevation, footprint, ground sampled distance, hyperspectral, kappa, land covers

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