Environmental Science Division (EVS) a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Program Highlights Index

Ecosystem Spectroscopy (EcoSpec)

EVS is developing a methodology for investigating patterns and associations between spectral responses of the land surface and ecosystem fluxes.

Because the atmosphere, plants, and soils control Earth’s terrestrial carbon and water cycles, better understanding of ecosystem dynamics at the biosphere-atmosphere interface is needed for accurate forecasting of future climate. Despite an advanced forecasting capability for ecosystem functions and climate at regional and global scales, little is known about how local-scale phenomena relate to large-scale phenomena. The EcoSpec project aims to investigate local-scale, high-temporal-frequency interactions between the near-surface atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere and ultimately, by filling the knowledge gap in ecosystem dynamics, to improve representations in climate change models.

Environmental conditions such as temperature, moisture, and light intensity strongly influence photosynthesis, respiration, and evapotranspiration in ecosystems. These functions vary with the composition and properties of the terrestrial surface. It is widely recognized that spectral reflectance values for terrestrial ecosystems are a function of the composition, abundance, and configuration of surface features—such as plants and soils—and their physical and chemical properties.

Raw spectral reflectance measurements of plants during a summer day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The EcoSpec project will develop a workflow for correcting unwanted factors influencing the measurements and standardize reflectance values in order to extract spectral signatures associated with ecosystem functions.
Raw spectral reflectance measurements of plants during a summer day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The EcoSpec project will develop a workflow for correcting unwanted factors influencing the measurements and standardize reflectance values in order to extract spectral signatures associated with ecosystem functions. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

A team of Argonne scientists and engineers is exploring the power of optical information to predict the dynamics of ecosystem functions by using tower-based hyperspectral remote sensing and flux measurements. For this project, we are:

  • Developing an integrative, low-power sensor system and network;
  • Developing procedures for hyperspectral data collection, quality control, and management;
  • Collecting high quality, high-temporal-frequency optical measurements across over 2,000 narrow spectral channels;
  • Exploring analytics for hyperdimensional time-series data;
  • Identifying hyperspectral indicators for ecosystem carbon and water fluxes; and
  • Identifying biophysical and biochemical processes that hyperspectral data can elucidate.

The Argonne EcoSpec team consists of remote sensing scientists, ecologists, electrical and mechanical engineers, computer scientists, and statisticians from the Environmental Science, Biosciences, and Mathematics and Computer Science Divisions. By 2016, with an agricultural system as a test case, the EcoSpec team will develop operational infrastructure and streamlined protocols for high-temporal-frequency hyperspectral data collection, approaches to data management and quality control, and integrated analytics for hyperdimensional time-series data sets. The framework is expected to be applied eventually to more complex ecosystems.

Preliminary hierarchical clustering analysis of hyperspectral reflectance data. The clusters indicate similarity and dissimilarity in information content that is inherent to spectral channels. Wavelength is shown in nanometers and color-coded by the spectral region.
Preliminary hierarchical clustering analysis of hyperspectral reflectance data. The clusters indicate similarity and dissimilarity in information content that is inherent to spectral channels. Wavelength is shown in nanometers and color-coded by the spectral region. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Related Program Areas

See the Program Highlights Index for a complete list of EVS program highlights.

photo of Yuki Hamada
Assistant Remote Sensing Scientist
Capabilities: Applications of optical remote sensing and geospatial modeling approaches for analyzing and monitoring terrestrial ecosystem functions and processes; application of plant spectroscopy to hyperspectral image analysis for terrestrial ecosystem research; development of novel image processing algorithms to extract and characterize land surface features and properties; use of geospatial information technologies in development of a framework for data interpolation, extrapolation, and scaling from fine-resolution local scale to coarse regional scale.