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Monitoring woodland cover change and albedo change

Dr Naveen Shahi, GCI Postdoctoral Researcher

Naveen ShahiAfrican woodlands may act as major carbon sinks in southern Africa, and under rising carbon emissions and projected low precipitation scenarios from various regional climate future projections such as CORDEX Africa, it is essential to understand the seasonal changes in the spatial cover and structure of these woodlands.

To provide solutions to such complex questions and its related uncertainties, Naveen is currently developing an earth observation tool to monitor and estimate woody vegetation cover of southern African savannas using high spatial resolution reflectance products derived from the Multi-Angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer-High Resolution (MISR-HR) processing system. The work is under the thematic area of forestry in the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) project. The goal of the project is to develop the capacity to monitor the vegetation cover and biomass of these woodlands in support of climate mitigation actions.

One of the outputs of MISR-HR system is a product called albedo – one of the ways to measure how much of the sun’s incoming radiation is reflected back, in each direction. Good albedo data is critical to understand the energy balance between the atmosphere and the land surface, and in turn, this is a really important for projections of future climate change. Naveen plans to integrate the MISR-HR albedo product with regional climate models, in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). This will be an important first step to understand what effect changes in land cover might have on local climate.