Nordic Network on Physically Based Remote Sensing of Forests 

PHYSENSE is a Nordic network which focuses on the development, validation and application of physically based approaches in the interpretation of remotely sensed data of forest ecosystems.

Creating a synoptic view of global and regional ecological systems and environmental trends requires extensive geographical data sets which are difficult to collect with field measurements. Remotely sensed data provide the only cost-effective technique for the data collection. The data are used to characterize various ecological variables that are applicable in monitoring, for example, changes in land and vegetation cover, land use, vegetation structure, phenological cycles, natural disasters or biodiversity of habitats. In addition, remotely sensed data are continuous, verifiable (for other parties) and comparable over different countries and years.

During the past decade, along with the rapid technological and methodological development of satellite derived products, a range of new possibilities has risen
in global monitoring and assessment of forest and vegetation status from remotely sensed data with physically-based image interpretation techniques.

The physically-based approach formulates mathematically the transfer of solar radiation in vegetation canopies using reflectance models which relate the spectral signature of the vegetation to a set of vegetation parameters. Physical models also play a key role in the design of new earth observation missions and instruments as well as techniques to utilize satellite images in estimating ecosystem balances at regional and global scales. In addition to obtaining biophysical parameters, physically-based reflectance models are also needed for instance in calibrating and correcting radiometric problems present in remotely sensed data.

First PHYSENSE-workshop was organized September 25, 2007 in Tartu, Estonia. Abstract book

Second PHYSENSE-workshop was organized June 3-4, 2008, in Helsinki, Finland. Abstract book


Miina Rautiainen
PHYSENSE network secretary
Tartu Observatory, 61602 Tõravere, Estonia.
Steering group:

Tiit Nilson (network director), Tartu Observatory
Miina Rautiainen, Univ. of Helsinki / Tartu Observatory
Pontus Olofsson, Boston Univ. / Lund University
Matti Mõttus, Tartu Observatory
Mait Lang, Estonian University of Life Sciences
Lauri Korhonen, Univ. of Joensuu
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