CubeSat Cameras and Normalization Framework at Wetland Areas
Wetland areas are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, occurring naturally on every continent of our planet. The current situation with global warming sadly endangers natural wetlands, both seasonal and permanent, which is why regular monitoring and assessment are crucial to preserve ecological habitats and potentially combat climate change.
Recent studies show that small CubeSat cameras are more effective for monitoring wetland conditions worldwide. In contrast to large satellites like LandSat, CubeSat cameras allow for a larger degree of radiometric normalization, thus, improving EOS image quality. Discover how CubeSat camera missions help fight climate change by preserving wetland areas around the world.
Table of Contents
Where are Wetlands Located in the World?
A wetland is a diverse ecosystem filled with water, so wetlands are located on every continent of our planet. Some are seasonal, generally caused by floods, while others are of a more permanent nature. Still, images obtained with EOS and CubeSat camera systems show that the landscape of wetlands is changing along with our planet’s climate.
Some wetlands, like peatlands, for example, are natural sources of capturing carbon, which means their preservation can help alleviate the consequences of global warming. Others, on the other hand, like tropical wetlands, have recently been proven to emit more methane than previously estimated.
Monitoring all of these data from space helps scientists and ecologists get a realistic picture of the changes our planet is going through. This, in turn, allows us to react quickly to any challenges and alleviate the consequences of industrial activity on the Earth’s atmosphere.
How to Create Wetland Maps from Space?
Today, CubeSat images are the primary source of information about wetland conditions back on Earth. CubeSat cameras can produce quality synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) images that realistically reconstruct two- and three-dimensional objects. Using radiometric normalization, CubeSat cameras ensure speckle reception and proper topographic correction, showing a clear topographic line between wet and dry land areas.
SAR images obtained with CubeSat cameras are crucial not only for monitoring wetlands but for environmental monitoring in general. While observing seasonal changes on land, plenty of parameters, from leaf coverage to biomass density, can interfere with image quality.
Any changes in the landscape can act as ‘digital noise,’ which is why modern CubeSat cameras are designed to reduce geometric and radiometric distortion while mapping topography.
Another option to get quality wetland images with a CubeSat camera is airborne lidar technology, along with passive optical imagers — both multispectral and hyperspectral. However, those technologies are primarily used for mapping, whereas CubeSat cameras can monitor more than just wetland map coverage.
CubeSat Camera Missions: What Else Can They Achieve?
Besides mapping, CubeSat cameras are used for wetland inventory. The inventory generally stands for wetland area distribution in a given region, which implies keeping track of any changes in the surrounding area — particularly in ground cover and vegetation. CubeSat cameras monitor the environmental gradients, aka perimeters or transition zones, offering quality analytics of all landscape changes.
SAR images from CubeSat cameras are also useful in monitoring water extent and level in wetland areas. Most wetlands occur naturally in elevated areas, where the rate of water movement is rather slow. This means that any water movement in the wetlands depends on soil composition, which in turn, is always linked to the area’s biochemistry and ecosystem.
SAR imagery from modern CubeSat cameras uses horizontally and vertically polarized wavelengths to obtain signals from the water surface, which naturally appears darker than the land surface. The same principle works at night and during cloudy conditions, allowing scientists to analyze any changes in water surface and soil composition with CubeSat cameras.
Finally, CubeSat cameras and SAR imagery are used to monitor and analyze biological processes within wetland areas since these regions have a very diverse ecosystem. To monitor biological changes, CubeSat cameras rely on fluorescence to determine changes in chlorophyll amounts as well as any deviation in chemical structure.
Once again, SAR and radiometric normalization of CubeSat camera imagers play a major part in obtaining and analyzing all hyper- and multispectral images of wetlands from space because remote sensors monitor for radiometric radiation of various chemicals in the water.
Today, timely environmental monitoring can help, if not revert, then at least seriously slow down the consequences of global warming and increasing climate change. CubeSat cameras offer a reliable and cost-effective solution for Earth observation and monitoring the consequences of climate change.
And, as the technology moves forward, scientists may eventually come up with a more permanent solution for preserving natural wetlands and fighting climate change.