Abstract

Satellite-acquired, remotely sensed observations of the earth's land areas are substatially advancing knowledge of global vegetation patterns. Recognition that combined visible/near infrared spectral reflectance observations are a general indicator of the presence, condition and magnitude of vegetation foliage provides a basis for explanation. This information is of considerable value in climatic research because of the links between climate variables and vegetation foliage. Presence of vegetation foliage is predominantly determined by a combination of local beat and moisture conditions. In turn, foliar presence determines local rates of photosynthesis, affects surface albedo, and influences local rates of evapotranspiration as well as other elements of surface energy/mass balance. Availability of these remotely sensed data provides, for the first time, a consistent, global means to directly study interactions between climate and vegetation. This understanding is now being incorporated in climatological research and should improve understanding of macroscale bioclimatology. Remote sensing technology and understanding of this technology are continuing to develop rapidly and further major advances in this new field of “satellite bioclimatology” can be expected in the near future.

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