Spatial coverage and image density of spy satellite images. The data are classified into three spatial resolution classes as high (0.5–2.5 m), medium (6–12 m), or low (140 m) resolution. The left column shows image density for all data in the US Geological Survey archive, the right column for only those scanned and freely accessible data. Credit: Bioscience (2024). DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biae002

A large number of historic Cold War-era spy satellite images were declassified decades ago. This valuable remote sensing data has been used by scientists in fields ranging from archeology to civil engineering. However, its use in ecology and conservation is limited.

Oh A new study Led by Dr. Catalina Montiano from the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg, Germany, it aims to advance the application of unclassified. in the fields of environment and conservation.

Taking advantage of recent developments in And analysis, these globally available black-and-white images can offer better insight into historical changes in ecosystems, species populations or changes in human impact on the environment since the 1960s, the researchers suggest.

Historical satellite images cover almost the entire globe in all seasons.

In their study, the researchers first examined the spatial, temporal, and spatial coverage of more than 1 million unclassified images from four historic U.S. spy satellite programs, showing that the data spans nearly the entire globe. and is available in all seasons.

After reviewing how reconnaissance satellite images are used in environment-related fields, the team then identified potential future applications. Importantly, the wide spatial and temporal scale of satellite images can enhance the understanding of environmental concepts such as baseline changes, lag effects, and legacy effects.

This better understanding can lead to better mapping of the historical extent and structure of ecosystems, helping to reconstruct past habitats and as well as offer new insights into historical human impacts on current ecosystem conditions.

Going forward, this knowledge could also be helpful for conservation planning and ecosystem restoration efforts, for example by helping to identify meaningful ecological niches, the researchers suggest.

Spy satellite images offer insight into historical climate changes.

A large tract of forest from the 1960s surrounds a one-hectare forestry research plot in the southern Black Forest region. Although much of the area today is forested, historical harvesting has changed the composition and structure of the forest. Left: Historical spy satellite image. Right: Current Google Earth image. Credit: University of Freiburg

Challenges are to be overcome.

However, the use of reconnaissance satellite data in environmental research faces several challenges. The study highlights issues such as limited access and sharing of data, the need to pre-process and correct images, and the absence of a consistent workflow within the scientific community.

Researchers are in demand to address these challenges. between data holders, remote sensing experts, and the environmental research community.

“This piece is a call for interdisciplinary collaboration between ecologists, conservationists, and remote sensing experts to explore the full potential of these incredible datasets. Some of our previous studies have shown that over the past Without consideration, we can draw wrong conclusions about the current environment,” says Munteanu.

I 2020 study A research group led by the same scientists that attracted international media attention had already provided an example of how satellite images can be used in ecology to map steppe marmot populations due to historical agricultural changes. Unexpected reductions in

“To enable these scientific inquiries, we ask for the cooperation of data holders in releasing and pre-processing the data,” says Munteanu.

More information:
Catalina Munteanu et al., The Potential of Historical Reconnaissance Satellite Imagery to Support Research in Environment and Conservation, Bioscience (2024). DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biae002

Reference: Spy Satellite Images Offer Insights into Historical Climate Change (2024, February 19) Retrieved February 19, 2024 from done

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