This is an article from the Summer 2015 VPS. For more VPS articles, click here
Project Team: Thailand Agriculture
Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center – Huntsville, Alabama, and Wise County Clerk of Court’s Office – Wise, Virginia
Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (NASA MSFC at National Space Science and Technology Center)
Dr. Robert Griffin (University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Monitoring climate change is crucial for the Thailand agricultural industry. Climate change results in shifting rainfall patterns which in turn affect the management of crop production. Northeastern Thailand grows the majority of the country’s rice, but the rice yield per hectare is relatively low. One primary factor is uncertainty surrounding the ability to monitor and assess climate change. This project aims to assess changing climate patterns to improve the understanding of environmental variables, such as precipitation and temperature; understand risks and impacts of floods, storms, and drought; and determine relationships between seasonal rainfall patterns and production areas of rice crop. This study used satellite imagery from Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM), Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) to evaluate land cover change over time. These observed changes were compared to trends in precipitation and land surface temperature. Precipitation data were obtained from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) missions, land surface temperature data was obtained from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), and a digital elevation model was obtained from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER). The images were analyzed by using land cover classifications, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), and/or Normalized Multi-band Drought Index (NMDI). Understanding the changing climate patterns assisted the end-users in initiating the best policies to tackle the challenges of climate change. In addition, the results of this research contributed to the scientific body of knowledge, in particular Earth and agricultural sciences.