Using remote sensing and ecosystem accounting to assess changes in ecosystems, with an illustration for the Orinoco river basin

Vargas, Leonardo


A further step in understanding the connections between ecosystems and the economy has been the development of ecosystem accounting. Ecosystem accounting assess changes on ecosystems and ecosystem services using cartographical and statistic information. However, such information is often non-existent or scarce, inaccessible and expensive. Remote sensing provides timely data over large coverages and can be a useful source of spatially explicit data at relatively low cost. This thesis shows the use of MODIS land surface products to support ecosystem accounting in the assessment of unsustainable changes in ecosystems. Examples of how the MODIS products can be used to populate the extent, condition and capacity accounts have been demonstrated in the chapters of this thesis. Moreover, examples of how ecosystem accounting can be combined with other multidisciplinary quantitative frameworks and on how ecosystem accounting can be applied in the assessment of human-managed ecosystems have been also provided. The potential use of the moderate resolution sensor VIIRS and the high-resolution sensors on board the Landsat 8 and Sentinel satellites as a source of spatially explicit information to populate accounts was recognized in the synthesis chapter. Moreover, the potential use of other MODIS products such as the atmosphere, cryosphere and ocean products to expand the assessment of other ecological areas such as the atmosphere and the sea were identified in the synthesis chapter.