Public Participation in Remote Sensing (PPRS): Integration of Local Knowledge and Technology-Based Surface Temperature Change Monitoring

EarthzineEssay Contest 2013, Essays, Original, Sections

By Fatwa Ramdani
Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

Expansion of oil palm plantations in Indonesia has contributed to a total forest loss of about 8 million hectares over the past 25 years. This expansion is attributable to the conversion of primary, secondary, or log forests. It is well-understood that land-cover changes influence the surface temperature on local, regional, and global scales.

Loarie et al., (2011) evaluated the correlation between sugarcane expansion and local climate change in Brazil. They found that the conversion of natural vegetation to a crop/pasture mosaic of sugarcane warms the air temperature over a cerrado (Brazilian savannah) by a range of 1.45‰ÛÒ1.65 degrees Celsius, but subsequent conversion of that mosaic to sugarcane cools the region by a range of 0.78‰ÛÒ1.07 degrees. This has resulted in a mean net increase of 0.6 degress.

Other work by Ho et al. åÊ(2012) detected differences between land-surface temperature and vegetation cover in northern China by using satellite images. They found that double-cropping (two types of plantation in one area) significantly increased temperatures during summer season, compared with single-cropping (one types of plantation in one area).

Park et al. (2012) examined vegetation feedback in the U.S. They found that increases in the vegetation greenness level indicated increases in moisture transfer from the soil to the atmosphere by the evapotranspiration process and created lower land-surface temperatures in subhumid regions, such as the southern, midwestern and northwestern U.S.

Luskin and Potts (2011) examined how habitat characteristics changed when forests were converted to oil palm plantations. They monitored the changes in microclimate conditions and vegetation structures of oil palm plantations and found that oil palm plantations are hotter and drier than forests.

In this essay, I propose the concept of Public Participation in Remote Sensing (PPRS), which is a part of geo-spatial information system application based on local knowledge, to study Earth surface temperature trends, changes, and the correlated phenomena.

The input data are geo-spatial information based on the images acquired by the Landsat 8 satellite. Land surface temperature data and land use/land cover (LULC) changes will be extracted from thermal bands and multispectral bands of Landsat 8, respectively. Also, local knowledge regarding the changing environment is collected from the local people. People with knowledge about local conditions are asked to actively participate in analyzing certain locations, by verifying results obtained from satellite imagery and giving input about other Earth surface-related phenomena in their environment that might be difficult to identify from satellite images alone. All information is location-based, and to achieve the purpose of this study, all local knowledge will be inputted to a GIS system. A webGIS application that corresponds to the input data of the GIS system shall be developed, to allow the transfer of information to the other area. To ensure the security and reliability of the inputted data, only registered users can access data inputted to the webGIS. The data set will be produced using open source Quantum GIS, GRASS, and PostGIS software.

The public participation will be applied through multi-channel strategies and solutions, such as message services via cell phones, offline interviews, and local community computing. The user can track the course of processing and state whether the surface temperature has been changed or not. All the results will be available to access in a System Architecture of Public Participation in Remote Sensing (PPRS), as illustrated in Figure 1.

Furthermore, the user (public) will take action to manage the environment using this method and mitigate the direct impact of the changes in surface temperature and indirect impacts such as human culture interacting with the changes of surface temperature in the long-term. The expected output is that people with lower education levels will have better geo-literacy, which is a way of spatial thinking and an ability to understand human-environment interaction which may finally shape their way of thinking about higher awareness of the dynamic environment.

We propose this innovative method of environmental monitoring in case of land-surface temperature changes based on local knowledge in lower education levels, supported by modern knowledge, in order to optimize the science and technology for observing Earth`s climate on a local scale. The advantages of this method will be provided not only for local people with oil palm plantations as their main livelihood, but also for a better future of humanity.

    Figure 1: System Architecture of Public Participation in Remote Sensing (PPRS).

Figure 1: System Architecture of Public Participation in Remote Sensing (PPRS).

This system will allow researchers, community institutions, and farmers with local knowledge to help each other in order to quickly identify and resolve problems. This system will provide valuable data to farmers, local government, and researchers, and also help broaden public awareness and development of sustainable management. This public participation system can be implemented both in agricultural commodities and non-agricultural environment, and will offer much help to manage other Earth resources in a more sustainable way.


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