Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectroscopy

  • Global food security poses large challenges to a fast changing human society and has been a key topic for scientists, agriculturist, and policy makers in the 21st century. The United Nation predicts a total world population of 9.15 billion in 2050 and defines the provision of food security as the second major point in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As the capacities of both, land and water resources, are finite and locally heavily overused, reducing agriculture’s environmental impact while meeting an increasing demand for food of a constantly growing population is one of the greatest challenges of our century. Therefore, a multifaceted solution is required, including approaches using geospatial data to optimize agricultural food production. The availability of precise and up-to-date information on vegetation parameters is mandatory to fulfill the requirements of agricultural applications. Direct field measurements of such vegetation parameters are expensive and time-consuming. On the contrary, remote sensing offers a variety of techniques for a cost-effective and non-destructive retrieval of vegetation parameters. Although not widely used, hyperspectral thermal infrared (TIR) remote sensing has demonstrated being a valuable addition to existing remote sensing techniques for the retrieval of vegetation parameters. This thesis examined the potential of TIR imaging spectroscopy as an important contribution to the growing need of food security. The main scientific question dealt with the extraction of vegetation parameters from imaging TIR spectroscopy. To this end, two studies impressively demonstrated the ability of extracting vegetation related parameters from leaf emissivity spectra: (i) the discrimination of eight plant species based on their emissivity spectra and (ii) the detection of drought stress in potato plants using temperature measures and emissivity spectra. The datasets used in these studies were collected using the Telops Hyper-Cam LW, a novel imaging spectrometer. Since this FTIR spectrometer presents some particularities, special attention was paid on the development of dedicated experimental data acquisition setups and on data processing chains. The latter include data preprocessing and the development of algorithms for extracting precise surface temperatures, reproducible emissivity spectra and, in the end, vegetation parameters. The spectrometer’s versatility allows the collection of airborne imaging spectroscopy datasets. Since the general availability of airborne TIR spectrometers is limited, the preprocessing and data extraction methods are underexplored compared to reflective remote sensing. This counts especially for atmospheric correction (AC) and temperature and emissivity separation (TES) algorithms. Therefore, we implemented a powerful simulation environment for the development of preprocessing algorithms for airborne hyperspectral TIR image data. This simulation tool is designed in a modular way and includes the image data acquisition and processing chain from surface temperature and emissivity to the final at-sensor radiance data. It includes a series of available algorithms for TES, AC as well as combined AC and TES approaches. Using this simulator, one of the most promising algorithms for the preprocessing of airborne TIR data – ARTEMISS – was significantly optimized. The retrieval error of the atmospheric water vapor during the atmospheric characterization was reduced. As a result, this improvement in atmospheric characterization accuracy enhanced the subsequent retrieval of surface temperatures and surface emissivities intensely. Although, the potential of hyperspectral TIR applications in ecology, agriculture, and biodiversity has been impressively demonstrated, a serious contribution to a global provision of food security requires the retrieval of vegetation related parameters with global coverage, high spatial resolution and at high revisit frequencies. Emerging from the findings in this thesis, the spectral configuration of a spaceborne TIR spectrometer concept was developed. The sensors spectral configuration aims at the retrieval of precise land surface temperatures and land surface emissivity spectra. Complemented with additional characteristics, i.e. short revisit times and a high spatial resolution, this sensor potentially allows the retrieval of valuable vegetation parameters needed for agricultural optimizations. The technical feasibility of such a sensor concept underlines the potential contribution to the multifaceted solution required for achieving the challenging goal of guaranteeing global food security in a world of increasing population. In conclusion, thermal remote sensing and more precisely hyperspectral thermal remote sensing has been presented as a valuable technique for a variety of applications contributing to the final goal of a global food security.

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Author:Gilles Rock
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2019/12/16
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Granting institution:Universität Trier, Fachbereich 6
Date of final exam:2016/12/19
Release Date:2019/12/18
Institutes:Fachbereich 6
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY-NC-ND: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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