NASA to Provide Scientists With Satellite Data to Assess Southeast Asian Land Use


From May 7th to 16th, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially launched the Land-Cover and Land-Use Change project in the three countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Vietnamese and NASA scientists are working on a joint project to monitor Southeast Asian land use, local Vietnamese media have reported from an international scientific seminar with the direct and indirect participation of more than 60 national and international scientists and fieldwork programs implemented by NASA in collaboration with the University of Natural Sciences (Hanoi National University).

Entitled “Land Use Status, Change and Impacts in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos,” the project aims to build a quantitative database on land coverage and land use, and to create maps on the changing populations and the demography in these nations. To this end, NASA would allow scientists to use data from its remote sensing satellites to investigate, assess land use, change and impact in the area.

Photo Credit: Vietnam News Agency

Assoc. Prof. Dr Pham Quang Tuan, Head of the Faculty of Geography, University of Science, Vietnam National University, said that the cooperation with NASA’s scientists will help local scientists approach modern technology in space technology and remote sensing. Therefore, Vietnamese scientists will have the opportunity to access new technologies to solve problems in urban development management and land use issue in Vietnam taking into account natural disaster risk management.

Nghiem Van Son, a senior researcher from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and one of the project’s founders, said that data retrieved from satellites will help create a comprehensive picture of Vietnam’s landmass so that scientists can monitor the entire area instead of having to rely on individual reports, a local Vietnamese agency reported. Quantitative research, including the monitoring of drought-prone areas and volumetric flow rates in rivers, will be included in the reports.

The project is expected to run for three years.

NASA is an independent agency of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government responsible for its civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. The agency was established in 1958, and is currently led by Jim Bridenstine, the first elected official ever to lead it.


Read more about this specific NASA project in this general abstract taken from the official website:

The overall science objective of this research is to quantitatively document the current status and rate of change of how land cover and land use and how trajectories of these changes are linked to population and demographic transitions for the Southeast Asian countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In the scope of this proposal, given the finite resources and schedule, we will focus the research on three interconnected science questions, each with specific aspects:
Q1: It is known that rapid LCLUC (Land-Cover Land-Use Change) has occurred over Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, especially the loss of important forest regions since the turn of the 21st century, considered as ecocide. Now a key question is what has happened over those deforested land as well as non-deforested land in terms of the current land use status, specifically: (1) Whether the deforested areas are still denuded and/or deforestation has expanded to other areas; (2) whether the deforested land has converted to a more natural state (e.g., grass land) or is being used for agriculture (e.g., rice fields); and (3) where reforestation exists, whether it is on previously denuded land, or the natural forests are replaced by commercial tree plantations (e.g., rubber trees).
Q2: From the quantitative delineation of the above current land cover and land use status (denoted as LCLUS henceforth), the next connected component is quantifying spatial patterns and temporal trends of LCLUC, specifically: (1) How does multi-scale spatial fragmentation in rural and natural landscapes vary within a country and across borders of different countries; (2) with recent shifts in LCLUC, what type of seasonal vegetation change has emerged over rural and natural land in a country and in different countries? And (3) what is the quantitative characterization of the recent rate of LCLUC since year 2000.
Q3: The above observations of LCLUS together with the LCLUC patterns, trends, and rate of change are coupled/integrated with population and demographic data for each country, specifically to address: (1) How population distribution (e.g., rural versus urban) is associated with LCLUS for built, agricultural, and forested lands and how the population change trajectories in relation to the observed LCLUC patterns occur differently in the tri-nations; (2) how subnational demographic changes in working-age versus dependent populations may affect or be impacted by LCLUC; and (3) how policies in different regions and in different countries may be driving or impacted by LCLUC. Here, we consider specific case studies of factors that may drive the differences in LCLUC and force different impacts within and across borders of the different countries (e.g., plantation development in VN, Economic Land Concessions policy in CB, and population resettlement policy in LS). We expect an array of new products that accurately and quantitatively document the LCLUS and LCLUC to answer Q1, Q2, and Q3 in the interconnected physical and socioeconomic dimensions in the tri-nations.
Source: VN Express International, Devdiscourse