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Vegetation Indices, Change Detection & Time Series Analysis

Traces of Fire in Satellite Images (Geography)

The concrete example of the devastating 2007 forest fires in Greece serves to introduce the pupils to the causes and the effects of humans interfering in geo-ecological cycles. 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 lessons
4: advanced
Recommended Prior Knowledge

Recommended Prior Knowledge: Knowledge in the fields of photosynthesis, ecology (biology) and optics (physics)


Roland Goetzke

Henryk Hodam

Kerstin Voß


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


The pupils ought to be able to classify the dynamics of ecosystems in connection to the example of the 2007 forest fires in Greece.

The electromagnetic spectrum has to be described and used for comparing the reflection characteristics of plants.

The wave-length range relevant for photosynthesis will be allocated

The pupils ought to explain the relevance of vegetation indices and apply vegetation indices for change detection.