Presented at the occasion of the Tropenbos Seminar

Research in Tropical Rain Forests

Wageningen, November 25-26, 1997


Project JRA #143 - Group 3

(Analysis and Applications)

Principal Investigators:

(1) PRIVATEERS N.V., Philipsburg, NA

(2) TREEMAIL, Heelsum, NL

Project Plan:

The joint Treemail and Privateers project ‘Using TRMM data to assess environmental monitoring of agriculture & forestry in the Republic of Surinam’ has been accepted by NASDA, the Japanese Space Agency, for its ‘scientific excellence’ and its content that was ‘vital to the Tropical Raifall Measuring Mission program’

This project is a collaborative action between two private value-added companies that operate in the field of remote sensing applications and international forestry. Our complementary role as researchers is to help develop processing methods for remote sensing data and to demonstrate the usefulness of spaceborne sensors to economically important applications, in particular to crop inventory and production monitoring and to forest inventory and management in the developing countries of the inter-tropical belt.

Surinam is located on the Guyana shield. This is one of the oldest geomorphologic formations on the planet and carries some of the world's poorest soils. Environmentally sound forest operations in this important area to Latin American biodiversity have been well researched and have proven to be more difficult than in area's with richer soils such as the forested regions of volcanic origin in Central America.

On the other hand, geomorphologic formations located in the coastal plain consist mainly of sedimentary clay and loam deposits. Although the coastal zone is fertile, the density of population remains low and it holds the potential for the extension of the existing polders. In these polders the main cash crop grown is irrigated rice. For planning of the extensive polders system and its associated infra-structure, meteorological data is needed. Information on the quantity and the distribution of precipitation is of major importance.

In this context, the objectives of this project are manifold. Using TRMM Ku-band Precipitation Radar (PR) images (1B-21 products), we will assess their potential for the monitoring of extended forest areas and agricultural crop cultivations. Emphasis will be put, first on the detection of degraded, depleted and regrowing forest, second on the cartography and monitoring of rice polders. To reach these objectives, the wide swath of the PR instrument is a major advantage, while the PR spatial resolution is expected to be adequate (rice polders are very large, and forest depletion occurs at large scale. In addition, our unique resolution improvement methods will be used).

The TMI instruments provide instantaneous 3D structure observations of precipitation which are related to Latent Heat. This Latent Heat information may provide valuable information on the absorption energy of crops grown in the polders which, in turn, may provide an indication of the production. To reach these results TRMM 2A-12, 2A-25 and 3B-43 geophysical data originating from the TMI and PR will be introduced in agro-meteorological models.

Research related to this project will be performed mainly by the principal investigators at the facilities of their respective companies in The Netherlands, Italy and France. PRIVATEERS and TREEMAIL’s investigators have both the qualifications and the long-standing experience in international cooperation that are required to conduct this project successfully.

As this project is proposed in the framework of a joint and private PRIVATEERS and TREEMAIL initiative, it shall contribute directly to helping development efforts in Surinam. Ground- and ancillary- data necessary for the project shall be provided by the cooperative authorities and farmers in Surinam.

By pooling of the PRIVATEERS and TREEMAIL expertize to monitor rice and forest developments simultaneously, the project provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate rational use of the resources required for image processing and interpretation and for cost-effective distribution of research results.

In addition to the research goals of this project, the TRMM offers an outstanding opportunity for the development of reliable information that can enhance and rationalize ground truth verification of the sensitive developments in the Republic of Surinam's natural rain forest.

Such information is timely and it is considered to be of political, environmental and economical importance.