Benefiting Science and Conservation Through Better Satellite Imagery



Dr. Matthew Clark, associate professor of geography and global studies at Sonoma State, received NASA funding to study the potential of NASA’s planned hyperspectral satellite to improve regional-to-global scale mapping of land cover.

Traditional imagery data from Earth-observation satellites have limited measurements of the electromagnetic spectrum, which hinders their use in understanding our planet’s biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem health and services. Hyperspectral sensors, or imaging spectrometers, can detect myriad biochemicals and structural properties in vegetation canopies. This information can improve assessment of land cover and change, such as shifts in vegetation types due to climate change, fire, or drought. Dr. Clark’s research is designing a hyperspectral image processing framework based on machine learning and simulated imagery from NASA’s airborne hyperspectral sensor. This processing framework will lay the foundation for producing improved land-cover maps from a future hyperspectral satellite.

“I am interested in the conservation of earth’s biological diversity and ecosystem functioning in a time of increasing economic activity and global climate change,” says Dr. Clark. “Investigating, monitoring, and managing environmental change requires advanced satellite sensors and data processing techniques to provide a systematic and temporal perspective of the Earth at regional-to-global scales. My project, and related NASA-funded research in this field, will demonstrate how hyperspectral measurements from space can improve Earth system monitoring and forecasting.”