The application of remote sensing to environmental monitoring of the AOSERP study area: Volume I

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  • The purpose of this study was to examine the application of remote sensing to environmental monitoring of the Athabasca Oil Sands region and to demonstrate the way in which field-acquired and remotely-sensed data could be integrated. Vegetation field data were acquired and sample plots were subjectively divided into community and class groupings. False color infrared and true color aerial photography were examined. It was concluded that false color infrared aerial photography acquired during the period of maximum foliage development is most valuable for vegetation mapping and the detection of environmental disturbance. Thermal infrared night time imagery was found to be most valuable in the detection of thermal anomalies related to water features, and in the analysis of oil sands plant sites. LANDSAT color composite transparencies were studied and found to be valuable in providing an overview of the major ecological communities in the area, and of the progress of land clearing operations. Digital analysis of two summer images was done using the Image-IOO system at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing in Ottawa. Change detection analysis of open water, cleared land, and disturbance vegetation appeared to be the most valuable application of LANDSAT digital data to environmental monitoring of the region. In an operational environmental monitoring program, remotely sensed data should be acquired at regular intervals. It is suggested that imagery acquisition for different areas within the Oil Sands region be specifically tailored to the current and expected activity in each area.

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