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Vegetation Indices, Change Detection & Time Series Analysis

Traces of Fire in Satellite Images (Biology)

The concrete example of the devastating 2007 forest fires in Greece serves to introduce the pupils to the dynamics and the stability of ecosystems. The pupils take on the role of an expert who is asked on behalf of the European Commission to make statements on the development of the vegetation in Greece after the forest fires by making use of remote sensing methods. At first, the pupils get to know the different spectral bands of a satellite and calculate a vegetation index (NDVI) which can supply information on plant vitality. As a last task, they are asked to combine single NDVI images in order to create and analyse a time series.

Time required
3 - 4 hours
4: advanced
Recommended Prior Knowledge

Knowledge in the fields of photosynthesis, ecology and optics (physics)


Roland Goetzke

Henryk Hodam

Kerstin Voß


change detection
ecosystem dynamics
electromagnetic spectrum
natural hazards
the seasons
vegetation index


classify the dynamics of ecosystems in connection with the example of the 2007 forest fires in Greece.

describe the electromagnetic spectrum.

compare the reflection characteristics of plants.

allocate the wavelength range relevant for photosynthesis.

explain the relevance of vegetation indices and apply vegetation indices to change detection.