Forests are dynamic, complex and multidimensional ecosystems and play an irreplaceable role in social, economic, environmental, ecological and cultural context. Eucalyptus is the most common exotic species in Portugal forests. This species is fundamental in the industries related to the pulp paper production and the concern about their effects in ecosystems is growing. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) combined with Remote Sensing (RS) data can help to understand this complex ecosystem. Moreover, GIS and RS are commonly used in forest management. GIS allows the manipulation, analysis, and generation of considerable amounts of environmental information. This information can be used in the evaluation of ecosystems’ conditions and for decision making. The study case of this project was the municipal lands included in “Serras do Porto” and Valongo’s Nature 2000 network (Porto district, Portugal). The study zone considered in this work is a landscape of extreme relevance to Porto Metropolitan Area. For decades this area was extensively explored with eucalyptus plantations in order to produce cellulose for paper industry. Due to the characteristics of the area and its extension (40 hectares) the use of GIS became the most accurate and reliable alternative to characterize it. The combination of GIS tools and RS data allows the characterization of terrain relief, namely the analysis of altimetry, hypsometry, hydrography, the creation of environmental indexes such as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), and the Digital Elevation Model (DEM). RS technology offer the potential to explore the effects of land-use changes and disturbances on forest dynamics at large spatial scales. A Sentinel-2A image was used to produce NDVI, EVI, and NDWI environmental indexes and to generate the Land Use Land Cover (LULC) map, through Semi-Automatic Classification Plugin from QGIS software using Minimum Distance algorithm. The LULC was classified with two classes because the study area only presents two types of species: eucalyptus and bare soil. The LULC map obtained was validated through field points collected in the study area with a GPS receptor. An overall accuracy of 92.98% and a kappa statistic of 0.842 was obtained. Also, some of the geographic information obtained in the field was then integrated in QGIS software. Moreover, a phenological study was performed using NDVI values obtained from Sentinel-2A images, to understand the eucalyptus behavior in a certain period of time.. Because of that RS data provided useful information about the landscape dynamics allowing the assess to forest cover change and land use helping to create decision making plans and forest conservation measures.
Fluvial terraces are significant geomorphological features justifying the presence of rivers at high altitudes and constitutes the remains of the old river along the valleys, qualifying their incision capacity. Fill terraces can preserve lithic artefacts of Paleolithic communities that used the terrace clasts as raw material to manufacture their stone tools. The identification of fluvial terraces from cartography (analogical or digital) is based on different techniques and methods. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) has been used for the detection and identification of these fluvial geomorphologic features. Digital Elevation Model (DEM) derived from airborne Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) and slope-derived are the most used in the literature. The use of Remote Sensing (RS) data provides detailed information about the surface features, so it can be very useful to help in the identification of fluvial terraces. Recently, along the fluvial terraces of Minho river (border between Spain and Portugal), a significant amount of Paleolithic artefacts was found. The objective of this work was to study different approaches combining GIS and RS data to identify fluvial terraces and define the staircase levels along the Minho river valley. An approach was tested on the Minho River based on DEM and several auxiliary parameters. The analysis was based on several maps, such as DEM, slope, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Land Use Land Cover (LULC) and hydrological data. The data were in WGS84 UTM zone 29 (EPSG:32629) and the spatial resolution adopted was 10 meters. Different scenarios were tested and validated in order to find the best methodology.
To perform an accurate interpretation of remote sensing images, it is necessary to extract information using different image processing techniques. Nowadays, it became usual to use image processing plugins to add new capabilities/functionalities integrated in Geographical Information System (GIS) software. The aim of this work was to develop an open source application to automatically process and classify remote sensing images from a set of satellite input data. The application was integrated in a GIS software (QGIS), automating several image processing steps. The use of QGIS for this purpose is justified since it is easy and quick to develop new plugins, using Python language. This plugin is inspired in the Semi-Automatic Classification Plugin (SCP) developed by Luca Congedo. SCP allows the supervised classification of remote sensing images, the calculation of vegetation indices such as NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) and other image processing operations. When analysing SCP, it was realized that a set of operations, that are very useful in teaching classes of remote sensing and image processing tasks, were lacking, such as the visualization of histograms, the application of filters, different image corrections, unsupervised classification and several environmental indices computation. The new set of operations included in the PI2GIS plugin can be divided into three groups: pre-processing, processing, and classification procedures. The application was tested consider an image from Landsat 8 OLI from a North area of Portugal.
The use of Remotely Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) for remote sensing applications is becoming more frequent as the technologies on on-board cameras and the platform itself are becoming a serious contender to satellite and airplane imagery. MicMac is a photogrammetric tool for image matching that can be used in different contexts. It is an open source software and it can be used as a command line or with a graphic interface (for each command). The main objective of this work was the integration of MicMac with QGIS, which is also an open source software, in order to create a new open source tool applied to photogrammetry/remote sensing. Python language was used to develop the application. This tool would be very useful in the manipulation and 3D modelling of a set of images. The main objective was to create a toolbar in QGIS with the basic functionalities with intuitive graphic interfaces. The toolbar is composed by three buttons: produce the points cloud, create the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and produce the orthophoto of the study area. The application was tested considering 35 photos, a subset of images acquired by a RPAS in the Aguda beach area, Porto, Portugal. They were used in order to create a 3D terrain model and from this model obtain an orthophoto and the corresponding DEM. The code is open and can be modified according to the user requirements. This integration would be very useful in photogrammetry and remote sensing community combined with GIS capabilities.
Herdade da Contenda (HC), located in Moura municipality, Beja district (Alentejo province) in the south of Portugal (southwestern Iberia Peninsula), is a national hunting area with 5270ha. The development of an integrated system that aims to make the management of the natural and cultural heritage resources will be very useful for an effective management of this area. This integrated system should include the physical characterization of the territory, natural conservation, land use and land management themes, as well the cultural heritage resources. This paper presents a new tool for an integrated environmental management system of the HC, which aims to produce maps under a GIS open source environment (QGIS). The application is composed by a single button which opens a window. The window is composed by twelve menus (File, DRASTIC, Forest Fire Risk, Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), Bioclimatic Index, Cultural Heritage, Fauna and Flora, Ortofoto, Normalizes Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Digital Elevation Model (DEM), Land Use Land Cover Cover (LULC) and Help. Several inputs are requires to generate these maps, e.g. DEM, geologic information, soil map, hydraulic conductivity information, LULC map, vulnerability and economic information, NDVI. Six buttons were added to the toolbar which allows to manipulate the information in the map canvas: Zoom in, Zoom out, Pan, Print/Layout and Clear. This integrated and open source GIS environment management system was developed for the HC area, but could be easily adapted to other natural or protected area. Despite the lack of data, the methodology presented fulfills the objectives.
FORMOSAT-2, launched in May 2004, is a Taiwanese satellite developed by the National Space Organization (NSPO) of Taiwan. The Remote Sensing Instrument (RSI) is a high spatial- resolution optical sensor onboard FORMOSAT-2 with a 2 m spatial resolution in the panchromatic (PAN) band and a 8 m spatial resolution in four multispectral (MS) bands from the visible to near-infrared region. The RSI images acquired during the daytime can be used for land cover/use studies, natural and forestry resources, disaster prevention and rescue works. The main objectives of this work were to investigate the application of FORMOSAT-2 data in order to: (1) identify beach patterns; (2) correctly extract a sand spit boundary. Different pixel-based and object-based classification algorithms were applied to four FORMOSAT-2 scenes and the results were compared with the results already obtained in previous works. Analyzing the results obtained, is possible to conclude that the FORMOSAT-2 data are adequate to the correct identification of beach patterns and to an accurately extraction of the sand spit boundary (Douro river estuary, Porto, Portugal). The results obtained were compared with the results already achieved with IKONOS-2 images. In conclusion, this research has demonstrated that the FORMOSAT-2 data and image processing techniques employed are an effective methodology to identify beach patterns and to correctly extract sand spit boundaries. In the future more FORMOSAT-2 images will be processed and will be consider the use of pan sharped images and data mining algorithms.
Vegetation indices have been commonly used over the past 30 years for studying vegetation characteristics using images collected by remote sensing satellites. One of the most commonly used is the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The various stages that green vegetation undergoes during a complete growing season can be summarized through time-series analysis of NDVI data. The analysis of such time-series allow for extracting key phenological variables or metrics of a particular season. These characteristics may not necessarily correspond directly to conventional, ground-based phenological events, but do provide indications of ecosystem dynamics. A complete list of the phenological metrics that can be extracted from smoothed, time-series NDVI data is available in the USGS online resources (http://phenology.cr.usgs.gov/methods_deriving.php).This work aims to develop an open source application to automatically extract these phenological metrics from a set of satellite input data. The main advantage of QGIS for this specific application relies on the easiness and quickness in developing new plug-ins, using Python language, based on the experience of the research group in other related works. QGIS has its own application programming interface (API) with functionalities and programs to develop new features. The toolbar developed for this application was implemented using the plug-in NDVIToolbar.py. The user introduces the raster files as input and obtains a plot and a report with the metrics. The report includes the following eight metrics: SOST (Start Of Season – Time) corresponding to the day of the year identified as having a consistent upward trend in the NDVI time series; SOSN (Start Of Season – NDVI) corresponding to the NDVI value associated with SOST; EOST (End of Season – Time) which corresponds to the day of year identified at the end of a consistent downward trend in the NDVI time series; EOSN (End of Season – NDVI) corresponding to the NDVI value associated with EOST; MAXN (Maximum NDVI) which corresponds to the maximum NDVI value; MAXT (Time of Maximum) which is the day associated with MAXN; DUR (Duration) defined as the number of days between SOST and EOST; and AMP (Amplitude) which is the difference between MAXN and SOSN. This application provides all these metrics in a single step. Initially, the data points are interpolated using a moving average graphic with five and three points. The eight metrics previously described are then obtained from the spline using numpy functions. In the present work, the developed toolbar was applied to MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data covering a particular region of Portugal, which can be generally applied to other satellite data and study area. The code is open and can be modified according to the user requirements. Other advantage in publishing the plug-ins and the application code is the possibility of other users to improve this application.
Several biogeographic theories propose that the species richness depends on the structure and ecosystems diversity. The
habitat productivity, a surrogate for these variables, can be evaluated through satellite imagery, namely using vegetation
indexes (e.g. NDVI). We analyzed the correlation between species richness (from the Portuguese Atlas of Amphibians
and Reptiles) and NDVI (from Landsat, MODIS, and Vegetation images). The species richness database contains more
than 80000 records, collected from bibliographic sources (at 1 or 10 km of spatial resolution) and fieldwork sampling
stations (recorded with GPS devices). Several study areas were chosen for Landsat images (three subsets), and all
Portugal for MODIS and Vegetation images. The Landsat subareas had different climatic and habitat characteristics,
located in the north, center and south of Portugal. Different species richness datasets were used depending on the image
spatial resolution: data with metric resolution were used for Landsat, and with 1 km resolution, for MODIS and
Vegetation images. The NDVI indexes and all the images were calculated/processed in an open source software
(Quantum GIS). Several plug-ins were applied in order to automatize several procedures. We did not find any correlation
between the species richness of amphibians and reptiles (not even after separating both groups by species of Atlantic and
Mediterranean affinity) and the NDVI calculated with Landsat, MODIS and Vegetation images. Our results may fail to
find a relationship because as the species richness is not correlated with only one variable (NDVI), and thus other
environmental variables must be considered.