In the EAGLE master program at the Department of Remote Sensing, the students get to know a wide range of topics and applications of Earth Observation. Within the course “From Field Measurements to Geoinformation”, the students learn how to collect field data for remote sensing based environmental mapping. Last Tuesday’s session was a special one, not only because it was about phenology, but also because a reporter team from a local TV station joined the course given by Dr. Christian Hüttich.
The students gained an insight in how to benefit from point data and spatially explicit EO data in the context of vegetation development. Since this is also my PhD topic, I was invited to join. By using our smartphones and the MySeason app, we collected field data in the surroundings. Led by the user-friendly app, it’s quite easy to submit a phenological observation: You choose the plant you see, select the phase and take a picture.
In the TV clip, Christian highlights the importance of citizen science: By submitting observations to the database, users support the land and climate change observation services of the Copernicus program. The app was designed and developed by the Department for Earth Observation of the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena within the MyGEOSS project to foster Citizen Science and an awareness of European citizens on the changes affecting their local environment. With the app users also participate in building and establishing an in-situ database for phenological information and compare their individual observations with satellite measurements. Later in the course, we also analyzed those time series: The vegetation index EVI is a proxy for the greenness of vegetation seen by satellites. We obtained the data from the Earth Observation Monitor and decomposed the signal to trend and seasonality.
In those time series you can see the greening of vegetation in spring and also derive so called phenological metrics like the start of spring (SOS). In addition to the point data collected using the app that are available for some coordinates, I was showing nationwide maps of the SOS in Germany which I derived within the research project msave by using MODIS time series and the expert software tool TIMESAT.
The students could see, that vegetation development is a proxy for annually changing weather conditions and that plants can be seen as small meteorological stations representing the environmental conditions in their surroundings. This can be addressed by both in situ observations and EO data. The TV clip is available in the media library of tv mainfranken. All pictures on this page were taken from the TV clip.