Hydrologists Find Environmental Damage From Fog Reduction Is Observable From Outer Space

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Fog Related Vegetation Changes Namib Desert

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Two satellite images reveal plants modification from fog in 2 locations of the Namib desert. The left image reveals the locations throughout durations of lower fog; the best image reveals the locations throughout durations of greater fog. Greener locations inside the squares show plants greening. Credit: Image thanks to Lixin Wang, Indiana University

IUPUI-led research study is the very first to discover satellite information can discover fog’s influence on plants levels under environment modification.

A brand-new research study led by ecohydrologists at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has actually revealed for the very first time that it’s possible to utilize satellite information to determine the hazard of environment modification to environmental systems that depend upon water from fog.

The paper, released in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, provides the very first clear proof that the relationship in between fog levels and plants status is quantifiable utilizing remote picking up. The discovery opens the capacity to quickly and quickly evaluate fog’s influence on environmental health throughout big land masses — as compared to painstaking ground-level observation.

“It’s never been shown before that you can observe the effect of fog on vegetation from outer space,” stated Lixin Wang, an associate teacher in the School of Science at IUPUI, who is the senior author on the research study. “The ability to use the satellite data for this purpose is a major technological advance.”

The require to comprehend the relationship in between fog and plants is immediate given that ecological modification is minimizing fog levels around the world. The shift most highly impacts areas that rely on fog as a significant source of water, consisting of the redwood forests in California, the Atacama desert in Chile and the Namib desert in Namibia, with the latter 2 presently acknowledged as World Heritage websites under the United Nations due to their environmental rarity.

Gobabeb Namib Research Institute

Fog readings were taken at 2 weather condition stations near the Gobabeb Namib Research Institute in the Namib desert of Namibia. Credit: Photo thanks to Lixin Wang, Indiana University

“The loss of fog endangers plant and insect species in these regions, many of which don’t exist elsewhere in the world,” stated Na Qiao, a going to trainee at IUPUI, who is the research study’s very first author. “The impact of fog loss on vegetation is already very clear. If we can couple this data with large-scale impact assessments based on satellite data, it could potentially influence environmental protection policies related to these regions.”

The IUPUI-led research study is based upon optical and microwave satellite information, together with info on fog levels from weather condition stations at 2 places run by the Gobabeb Namib Research Institute in the Namib desert. The satellite information was gotten from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The fog readings were taken in between 2015 and 2017.

Wang’s deal with the Gobabeb center is supported under a National Science Foundation PROFESSION grant. At least when a year, he and trainee scientists, consisting of both graduate and undergraduate trainees from IUPUI, travel to the remote center — a two-hour drive on a dirt roadway from the closest city — to carry out field research study.

Lixin Wang

Lixin Wang, left, and a coworker conduct water research study in the Namib Desert of Namibia. Credit: Photo thanks to Lixin Wang, Indiana University

The research study discovered a substantial connection in between fog levels and plants status near both weather condition stations throughout the whole time of the research study. Among other findings, the optical information from the website near the research study center exposed apparent indications of plant greening following fog, and approximately 15 percent greater steps throughout durations of fog versus durations without fog.

Similar patterns were seen at the 2nd website, situated near a regional rock development. The microwave information likewise discovered substantial connection in between fog and plant development near the research study center, and approximately 60 percent greater steps throughout durations of fog versus durations without fog.

The research study’s conclusions are based upon 3 approaches of from another location determining plants: 2 based upon optical information, which is delicate to the vibrance of greens in plants, and a 3rd based on microwave information, which is delicate to general plant mass, consisting of the quantity of water in stems and leaves. Although observable by devices, the modifications in plants color are faint sufficient to go undiscovered by the human eye.

Next, the group will build on their existing work to determine the impact of fog on plants over longer amount of times, which will help with future forecasts. Wang likewise intends to study the relationship in other areas, consisting of the redwood forests in California.

“We didn’t even know you could use satellite data to measure the impact of fog on vegetation until this study,” he stated. “If we can extend the period under investigation, that will show an even more robust relationship. If we have 10 years of data, for example, we can make future predictions about the strength of this relationship and how this relationship has been changing over time due to climate change.”

Reference: “Satellite observed positive impacts of fog on vegetation” by Na Qiao, Lifu Zhang, Changping Huang, Wenzhe Jiao, Gillian Maggs‐Kölling, Eugene Marais and Lixin Wang, 4 June 2020, Geophysical Research Letters.
DOI: 10.1029/2020GL088428

Additional authors were Wenzhe Jiao, a Ph.D. trainee at IUPUI, who made substantial contributions to the satellite information processing, in addition to Changping Huang and Lifu Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Science and Maggs-Kölling and Eugene Marais of the Gobabeb Namib Research Institute. Qiao is likewise a trainee at the Chinese Academy of Science.



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