April 07, 2010 -- Infoterra Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS Astrium, along with its partners Southampton University and INRA France, has successfully mapped the start of Spring using satellite technology.
Infoterra has developed the PHenology And Vegetation Earth Observation Service (PHAVEOS) to monitor seasonal changes in the state of vegetation and has produced a series of maps, which show the British Isles emerging from Winter.
This service takes data from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on the ESA Envisat satellite, which was built by Astrium, and enables Infoterra to generate a series of daily maps showing the intensity of the chlorophyll (green) pigment in the vegetation.
These animated maps provide continuous coverage of vegetation across the British Isles, covering all land-based ecosystems and are currently being used to support the work of the Woodland Trust.
At the start of the first animation, the 1st January map shows a lot of variation across the UK. The level of chlorophyll detected by the satellite is shown in the map colours ranging from cream to brown through yellow and into green, ascending in order of amount of chlorophyll detected.
What are the bright green areas?
These occur in the uplands of Wales and Scotland and are evergreen forest.
What are the white areas?
White areas such as London are where the satellite failed to record vegetation activity because there is relatively little green space. Similarly, highland areas of North England, Wales and Scotland are not visible. This could be due to persistent snow cover this winter. As Spring develops we expect these 'gaps' to disappear as both more vegetation is exposed and the chlorophyll signal intensifies.
What is happening as the animation plays?
There is a general decrease in the chlorophyll levels in the vegetation as the map turns browner. This is because chlorophyll is still breaking down because most plants are not actively growing. This is often described as the 'winter burn'.
Arrival of spring
The second animation, covering the end of February up to mid-March, shows the peak of the 'winter burn' which intensifies until 9th March then rapidly reverses as warmer weather starts to raise soil temperatures. The greening of vegetation rapidly spreads across the country from the south west, northwards and from lowland areas to higher ground.
About Infoterra Ltd
Infoterra Ltd is a leading provider of geographic information products, software and services. Its portfolio of geographic information solutions includes airborne and satellite data acquisition, operational emergency planning systems, geo-information creation, database management and outsourced hosting. Infoterra provides geospatial and software knowledge to companies worldwide to help them make informed decisions. The company has major customers in public safety, government, defence, insurance, utilities, engineering and oil, gas & mineral exploration.
Infoterra Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS Astrium, Europe's leading space systems and services specialist. Infoterra Ltd, which incorporates Imass Ltd, is part of Spot Infoterra, the Earth Observation Division of Astrium Services.
For further information, please contact:
Cheryl Billson, Infoterra PR, 07791 720460