John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Colloquium Series Presentation on April 22nd to Feature REmote Sensing Expert Dr. Prasad Thenkabail

The Spring 2015 Space Studies Colloquium Series focuses on the NASA Discovery Program–the development of a planetary science mission– and will feature several leading experts in the field.  Our special guest scheduled for April 22nd is off-topic, but is a leading expert in the field of remote sensing.

This presentation will feature Dr. Prasad S. Thenkabail, Research Geographer, U.S. Geological Survey, USGS Western Geographic Science Center, Flagstaff, Arizona

Topic:  “Remote Sensing of Global Croplands for Food Security”

Date:  Wednesday, April 22nd 2015 (note change from normal Monday schedule)

Time:  3:00 p.m. (Central DST)

Location:  Ryan Hall, Room 111

About the Topic: Monitoring of global croplands (GCs) is imperative for ensuring sustainable water and food security for the people of the world in the Twenty-first Century. However, the currently available cropland products suffer from major limitations such as: (1) Absence of precise spatial location of the cropped areas; (b) Coarse resolution nature of the map products and their significant uncertainties in areas, locations, and detail; (b) Uncertainties in differentiating irrigated areas from rainfed areas; (c) Absence of crop types and cropping intensities; and (e) Absence of a dedicated web-based data portal for dissemination of the cropland map products.


This research aims overcome the above mentioned limitations through development of a set of Global Food Security-support analysis data at 30 m (GFSAD30) resolution consisting of four distinct products:

1. Cropland extent/area,

2. Crop types with focus on the 8 types that occupy 70% of the global cropland areas,

3. Irrigated versus rainfed croplands, and

4. Cropping intensities: single, double, triple, and continuous cropping.


These products are produced using multi-resolution time-series remotely sensed data and a suite of automated and\or semi-automated cropland mapping algorithms (ACMAs). Data include Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) time-series, and Landsat Time-series from various epochs. Methods include spectral matching techniques (SMTs), automated cropland classification algorithms (ACCA’s), decision tree algorithms (DTAs), and linear discriminant analysis algorithms (LDAA). Massively large big data (MLBD) are computed over several platforms that include parallel computing over NASA NEX supercomputers, and Google Earth Engine (GEE). Large volumes of ground data are sourced through various crowdsourcing mechanisms and integrated on a web platform:


About the Speaker:  Dr. Prasad S. Thenkabail is a Research Geographer-15 with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), USA. He has 27 years experience working as a well-recognized international expert in remote sensing and geographic information systems (RS/GIS) and their application to agriculture, wetlands, natural resource management, water resources, forests, sustainable development, and environmental studies. His work experience spans over 25 countries spread across West and Central Africa (Rep. of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo), southern Africa (Mozambique, South Africa), South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (Cambodia), the Middle East (Israel, Syria), East Asia (China), Central Asia (Uzbekistan), North America (the United States), South America (Brazil), and Pacific (Japan).


A live webcast which includes PowerPoint slides will be available here. Please note:  this option is currently not operational on portable devices/tablets.

The Connect-Pro webcast is available here. Sign in as a guest, or use your Connect-Pro log-in.

Colloquium presentations will be added to the colloquium website after the live event for later viewing.