CSIRO’s technologies provide vital information about land cover change across Australia.
Putting remote sensing on the map
CSIRO remote sensing technologies contributed to Australia's National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS), regarded as world's best, to allow accurate measurement of greenhouse gas emissions.
9 January 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011
CSIRO has helped create a revolution in the way remote sensing data is used in Australia, from mapping at the local level to quantative monitoring at a continental scale.
As a result of CSIRO's work over more than a decade, remote sensing is now a key technology for:
Now these technologies will be part of the platform for a global carbon monitoring system.
What CSIRO did
CSIRO scientists realised that remotely sensed images from satellites were a treasure chest of information on land use and its impacts, especially if a way could be found to compare data across time.
CSIRO, in partnership with the Department of Climate Change (formerly the Australian Greenhouse Office), developed technologies for transforming large archives of data from the Landsat satellites into information which can be used as a basis for a National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS).
NCAS has been developed to help estimate Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
A key component is the monitoring of forestry and agriculture activities.
NCAS's developers received the 2008 Sherman Eureka Award for Environmental Research.
To achieve this, the scientists:
defined new Landsat processing standards
developed new techniques for extracting information from satellite data
provided training and licensed software products for data processing.
Working with the private sector, CSIRO and the Department of Climate Change were able to complete the project on a scale ten times greater and at a fraction of the cost of previous benchmarks.
For the NCAS project, CSIRO and the Department of Climate Change created a series of maps showing how vegetation cover has changed in Australia, at a resolution of 25 metres, from 1972 to 2002.
These maps are now used as the foundation of NCAS.
Following a worldwide search for suitable technologies, Australia's NCAS was recently chosen by the Clinton Climate Initiative to be the platform for a global carbon monitoring system.
This project will help support developing countries reduce deforestation and achieve sustainable forest management.
About the scientists
Dr Peter Caccetta and his Terrestrial Mapping and Monitoring Team at CSIRO were awarded the CSIRO Chairman's Medal in 2004 for their work, the culmination of 20 years of research initiated by Dr Norm Campbell.
The scientists shared a 2008 Sherman Eureka Award for Environmental Research as part of the National Carbon Accounting Team. The winning team included people from the:
the Department of Climate Change
CSIRO (including scientists from Mathematical and Information Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering, and Land and Water)
the Australian National University, Canberra.
This was in recognition that the NCAS technology has become 'the international trailblazer in measuring carbon at national, regional and project level'.
Among the team's other collaborations are projects with several Western Australian State Government agencies on a range of remote sensing projects including Land Monitor, a A$7 million multi-agency project.
Dr Caccetta's group is based in Perth, Western Australia. Group members include:
Read more about research in Terrestrial mapping and monitoring.