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 Catching Land Changes

Monitoring the Forests

The synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) mounted on the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS/Daichi) and ALOS-2 (Daichi-2) can observe the Earth’s surface even through cloud and rain cover. This capability enables ALOS and ALOS-2 to observe forests worldwide, including those in the frequently cloudy tropics. JAXA joins up the images captured by SAR to create a single, seamless mosaic. It then uses this mosaic to form a global forest/non-forest map, distinguishing forested from non-forested areas of the world. JAXA publishes the mosaics together with conventional maps.


▲PALSAR global mosaic, 2009


▲PALSAR global mosaic, 2015


▲PALSAR forest/non-forest map, 2009


▲PALSAR forest/non-forest map, 2015


Crustal Deformation Monitoring

The Synthetic Array Radar (SAR) mounted on the ALOS and ALOS-2 can render visible in their entirety deformations in the Earth’s surface caused by earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides and other geological phenomena, with centimeter-level precision. Using techniques such as Interferometric SAR. EORC applies displacement sampling and conducts research on enhancing its effectiveness.


▲Crustal deformation from the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, whose strongest temblor reached a magnitude of 7.0. This image was obtained by processing data from the PALSAR-2 synthetic-array radar on ALOS-2. Applications include earthquake source-fault modeling.


Land-Cover Classification and Ecosystem Modeling

Changes in land cover, due to changes in forestation, urbanization, disasters and other phenomena, are currently accelerating. Land-cover maps that capture the current state of land cover, which changes day by day and moment by moment, are a vital necessity for a wide range of research efforts, ranging from global-scale simulations of climate, hydrology and ecosystems to policymaking and problem-solving of global issues such as biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, the environment, disaster preparedness and publish health. Creating such maps requires high-level calibration of satellite data, collation of databases of instructors and proving-test information, and the development and improvement of classification algorithms. EORC partners with various universities and research facilities to pursue these efforts. EORC prepares land-cover data sets by integrating and combining data from diverse sensors, including optical, microwave, active and passive sensors, leveraging JAXA satellite data to maximum advantage. By furnishing comprehensive, high-quality land-cover data sets, EORC contributes to the search for solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.


▲High-resolution land-cover map of central Vietnam


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