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Environmental sensor networks for vegetation, animal and soil sciences
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by A Zerger, R Viscarra Rossel, David SwainDavid Swain, T Wark, R Handcock, V Doerr, G Bishop-Hurley, E Doerr, P Gibbons, C Lobsey
Environmental sensor networks (ESNs) provide new opportunities for improving our understanding of the environment. In contrast to remote sensing technologies where measurements are made from large distances (e.g. satellite imagery, aerial photography, airborne radiometric surveys), ESNs focus on measurements that are made in close proximity to the target environmental phenomenon. Sensors can be used to collect a much larger number of measurements, which are quantitative and repeatable. They can also be deployed in locations that may otherwise be difficult to visit regularly. Sensors that are commonly used in the environmental sciences include ground-based multispectral vegetation sensors, soil moisture sensors, GPS tracking and bioacoustics for tracking movement in wild and domesticated animals. Sensors may also be coupled with wireless networks to more effectively capture, synthesise and transmit data to decision-makers. The climate and weather monitoring domains provide useful examples of how ESNs can provide real-time monitoring of environmental change (e.g. temperature, rainfall, sea-surface temperature) to many users. The objective of this review is to examine state-of-the-art use of ESNs for three environmental monitoring domains: (a) terrestrial vegetation, (b) animal movement and diversity, and (c) soil. Climate and aquatic monitoring sensor applications are so extensive that they are beyond the scope of this review. In each of the three application domains (vegetation, animals and soils) we review the technologies, the attributes that they sense and briefly examine the technical limitations. We conclude with a discussion of future directions.