Remote Sensing of Fractional Cover and Biochemistry in Savannas
Savanna ecosystems are comprised of complex three-dimensional (3-D) mixtures of woody and herbaceous vegetation, along with varying amounts of bare soil, rock, and other background features. Understanding, monitoring, and managing the spatiotemporal variation in savanna ecological processes requires a quantitative understanding of the 3-D structure and biochemical properties of the vegetation. Remote sensing provides a uniquely powerful approach to quantify vegetation properties in savannas. Given the enormous geographic extent of both temperate and tropical savannas (e.g., Huntley and Walker, 1982), combined with their heterogeneity at local scales, the need for remote sensing seems obvious. As a result, there has been continuing effort to develop and apply both airborne and satellite mapping approaches to estimate key aspects of savanna structure and biochemistry.