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Real-time monitoring of vegetation biomass with NOAA-AVHRR in Etosha National Park, Namibia, for fire risk assessment

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Estimates of biomass production are important in a wildlife reserve such as Etosha National Park, Namibia, for assessment of fire risk and subsequent selection of sites for controlled burning. We present methodology for using locally acquired NOAA-AVHRR images to make estimates of biomass in near-to-realtime. To this end, techniques for rapid measurement of the biomass of herbaceous and woody vegetation were developed using a rising disc pasture meter and individual plant dimensions. A field sampling methodology is presented to make biomass estimates which were compatible with the scale of AVHRR spatial resolution and sufficiently close to the time of satellite overpasses to enable correlation with the NDVI from single images. Initial results show high correlations of biomass with NDVI for individual vegetation cover classes, which appear to be temporally stable. There seem to be different regression equations for the different savanna vegetation types although more field observations are needed to confirm this. The results were exploited to illustrate the potential application of this work for fire management. The combination of rapid field methods and real time image acquisition developed in this work provides a sound basis for biomass monitoring at local level.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 15, 2002

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