Urban Remote Sensing

Project Description
Remote Sensing generally refers to the science, technology and physical processes involved in the detection, analysis and interpretation of information collected without coming into physical contact with the object of interest. In the context of our research and applications, urban remote sensing focuses primarily on understanding the physical properties and processes of urban environments and on the mapping and monitoring of urban land cover and spatial extent. These two objectives are related in the sense that it is necessary to understand the physical properties of the urban mosaic in order to rigorously define, map and monitor urban areas.

The research presented at SEDAC is primarily focused on the physical properties of a wide range of urban environments using passive measurement of optical reflectance and thermal emission as well as optical emission of nighttime lights. Comparative analyses of urban reflectance (visible and infrared color) and surface temperature allow us to develop robust criteria for distinguishing urban land cover from non-anthropogenic land covers. These analyses also provide important constraints on the physical properties that control mass and energy fluxes through the urban environment. These constraints are used as inputs to physical models of climatic, hydrologic and ecologic processes.