This page contains links to the field data collection protocols and supporting information for all TERN field calibration/validation datasets.

Airborne Hyperspectral and LiDAR data

TERN Landscape Assessment worked together with Airborne Research Australia (ARA) to deliver airborne hyperspectral and lidar data for a number of selected homogenous 5 km x 5 km field sites across several locations in Australia (formally known as the AusCover Supersites). A Riegl Q560 Lidar, a SPECIM AisaEAGLE II hyperspectral scanner (VNIR) and a SPECIM AisaHAWK hyper-spectral scanner were mounted in underwing pods of ARA's ECO-Dimona research aircraft VH-EOS, each one together with its own navigation and attitude system.

Airborne Hyperspectral and LiDAR metadata

Biomass Plot Library

The Biomass Plot Library is a collation of stem inventory data across federal, state and local government departments, universities, private companies and other agencies. It was motivated to the need for calibration/validation data to underpin national mapping of above-ground biomass from integration of Landsat time-series, ICESat/GLAS lidar, and ALOS PALSAR backscatter data under the auspices of the JAXA Kyoto & Carbon (K&C) Initiative (Armston et al., 2016). The data has been translated to a common set of tree, plot and site level observations with explicit plot footprints where available.

Biomass Plot Library metadata

Ground Lidar

Ground lidar, also known as Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), is a ranging instrument that provides detailed 3D measurements directly related to the quantity and distribution of plant materials in the canopy. Measurements can be used for applications requiring quantification of vegetation structure parameters, tree and stand reconstruction, and terrain analysis.

Scans have been collected in Australia using two Riegl VZ400 waveform recording TLS instruments. One is co-owned and operated by the Remote Sensing Centre, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) and the TERN AusCover Brisbane Node, University of Queensland. The second is owned and operated by Wageningen University, Netherlands. The field protocols are designed with these instruments in mind, however can be adapted to other TLS instruments.

Terrestrial Laser Scanner metadata

Terrestrial Laser Scanner protocol

Hemispherical Photography

Hemispherical photography has been used in studies of LAI, measuring canopy architecture of boreal forests, and the light environment in old growth temperate rain forests. Hemispherical photography can provide a number of structural measurements that can be used for calibration and validation of LiDAR derived products.

Hemispherical Photography metadata

Hemispherical Photography protocol

Hyperspectral Ground Calibration data

Field spectroradiometer measurements are collected to relate field based measurements to satellite data products (e.g. Landsat and MODIS NBAR products). For calibration and validation of at-surface reflectance of airborne hyper-spectral image data. Once the at-surface reflectance values of the hyper-spectral image data have been validated, the data can be used for up-scaling to medium spatial resolution Landsat and MODIS data for cal/val of NBAR products.

Hyperspectral Ground Calibration metadata

ASD Field Protocol - Ground Features

ASD Field Protocol - Calibration Targets


Leaf Area Index

Leaf Area Index has been collected at the TERN Landscapes Supersites around Australia, using the LAI2200 and CI-110 instruments.

LAI 2200 Plant Canopy Analyzer

LAI2000 Protocol

Leaf Sampling

High temporal frequency satellite observations of landscapes are necessary to capture highly dynamic spatio-temporal patterns of vegetation growth and productivity and landscape processes of carbon and water fluxes.  Satellite observations of landscape seasonality include co-varying phenological changes in vegetation foliage quantity, phenological variations in foliage quality (leaf age, pigment contents, nitrogen, leaf stress...), and external variations in clouds, aerosols, and sun-view angle geometries.  Satellite phenology observations of Australian landscapes are additionally complex due to the extensive prevalence of tree-shrub-grass canopies in which each vegetation functional class exhibit unique phonologies.  For example, the productivity of the tree layer may increase simultaneous with decreases in grass layer productivity, potentially resulting in a mis-diagnosed satellite phenology.  Validating satellite phenology is necessary for proper interpretation of climate variability and consequent shifts in seasonal and interannual biome responses.

Why are the measurements being made:

Leaf Data Protocol - Spectroradiometer


MicroTops Sunphotometer

The acquisition of sunphotometer measurements are critical to capture vital data on atmospheric properties during airborne hyperspectral imaging campaigns as well as for measurements coinciding with the overpass of satellite sensors. The atmospheric properties measured are used in atmospheric correction of the remotely sensed image data. This data is primarily for input into atmospheric correction systems. The MicroTops instruments referred to here capture solar radiance data in 5 wavelengths which are used to extract information on aerosol optical thickness and water vapour content. These two key parameters of interest are used as inputs for the atmospheric correction of remotely sensed image data.

Sunphotometer metadata

MicroTops Sunphotometer protocol

Pasture Biomass

Pasture Biomass field protocol.

SLATS Star Transects

The metric of overstorey vegetation cover adopted in many Australian vegetation classification frameworks is Foliage Projective Cover (FPC). FPC is defined as the vertically projected percentage cover of photosynthetic foliage of all strata, or equivalently, the fraction of the vertical view that is occluded by foliage. Overstorey FPC is defined as the vertically projected percentage cover of photosynthetic foliage from tree and shrub life forms greater than 2 m height and was the definition of woody vegetation cover adopted by SLATS. Overstorey FPC is one minus the gap probability at a zenith angle of zero and therefore it has a logarithmic relationship with effective leaf area index . Since Australian plant communities are dominated by trees and shrubs with sparse foliage and irregular crown shapes, overstorey FPC is a more suitable indicator of a plant community’s radiation interception and transpiration than crown cover.

Ground cover is the non-woody vegetation (forbs, grasses and herbs), litter, cryptogamic crusts and rock in contact with the soil surface. Ground cover changes in response to climate variables, vegetation dynamics and land management. Factors such as grazing pressure, tillage and stubble practices, drought and fire all affect ground cover. The quantity of ground cover affects water infiltration, runoff, erosion and carbon sequestration. It is a key indicator of land condition such as soil degradation, pasture production and biodiversity. Estimates of ground cover and changes in the quantity and spatial arrangement of ground cover over time provide land managers, policy-makers and scientists with valuable information for use in planning, monitoring and modelling applications.  

FPC and Ground cover can be monitored using remote sensing. From a remote sensing perspective, FPC is the woody green cover in the overstorey while ground cover is the fractional cover of the non-woody vegetation and litter near the soil surface. The field measurement protocol described here is used to derive three categories of cover from satellite imagery— photosynthetic vegetation (PV), non-photosynthetic vegetation (NPV) and bare soil (BS).

SLATS Star Transects metadata

SLATS Star Transects protocol

Muir, et al., 2011, Field Measurements of Fractional Ground Cover, prepared by Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

Tree Structural Characteristics

Field data on tree structural characteristics can be used for the calibration and validation of LiDAR derived products of tree height, canopy height profiles and allometrically derived Diameter Breast Height (DBH).

Tree Structural Characteristics metadata

Tree Structural Characteristics protocol