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The environment has remained at the forefront of scientific interest for well over four decades, and no other topic will likely captivate our attention in the foreseeable future as we struggle to understand the complexities of this planet, we call home. Understanding is the key, but understanding does not take place in a vacuum. To grasp the significance of our relationship with our environment, we need to comprehend the patterns and processes that characterize its many features; how they interact, how they change, and how they influence behaviors that shape our future. Understanding requires information, which helps to reveal the distinct actors and actions that conspire to define the environment. However, being informed implies not only an improved comprehension of the complexities inherent to the study of the environment, but also a greater sensitivity to the limit of our knowledge, the uncertainties that remain, and the unavoidable realities of our ignorance. In this context, information is intelligence that we not only learn from, but also apply to guide us while we strive to make good environmental decisions. The goal of this chapter is to place the environment into a framework that enables our ability to measure, map, and model its features using remote sensing technology to gain intelligence. Too often remote sensing is discussed from a technological perspective that leaves a gap between the obvious technical aspects of this science and the pragmatic need to obtain relevant data to address a problem. This chapter examines the environment by identifying its descriptive elements that can be explored remotely; characteristics that can not only be measured, but also whose measures communicate essential facts that explain the disposition of the environmental complexity. From this discussion, the notion of environmental sensing is introduced as the conduit between the technology, the myriad of applications it can serve, and our environmental system.
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- Environmental Sensing
James K. Lein
- Springer New York
- Chapter 2