Watching a Forest's Recovery

This month's image shows a multifrequency image created from data collected during the joint U.S./German/Italian SIR-C/X-SAR shuttle mission in October 1994, covering the eastern Ore Mountains (German Erzgebirge) around the township of Altenberg. The border to the Czech Republic is shown in black for ease of orientation. In the high altitude areas of these mountains, the forest had suffered severe stress from industrial pollution, especially sulfides, resulting in large areas with damaged and dead wood in the mid-to-late 1980's. At the end of that decade, a large reforestation program was started southwest of Altenberg (white areas in the image center) and in other forest areas. In this false color image, old forest, mainly spruce, is shown in orange and light brown, regrowth and open forest areas in tones between dark brown and dark green, and agricultural areas in dark blue-green.

Multifrequency SIR-C/X-SAR data are being used to assist vegetation mapping in the framework of a forest regeneration program, within a cooperation project between DLR-DFD, the GAF company, and the Saxon State Institute for Forestry. These activities supplement an available forest damage map based on Landsat TM data, where a differentiation of the young forest states was quite difficult to achieve. The evaluations of forest situation and regeneration are part of DFD's XEP project to demonstrate applications for SIR-C/X-SAR data in vegetation mapping, coastal management and structural geology studies.

This geocoded, terrain-corrected SIR-C/X-SAR image is a combination of L-band (HV polarization), C-band (total power) and X-band (VV polarization) in red, green and blue.

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