The Earth system and society's use of ecological resources are tightly coupled through exchanges of water, energy, and nutrients. Terrestrial vegetation transfers materials between the atmosphere, biosphere, and water bodies in the coupled system. Vegetation is also a primary interface between human society and the Earth system through land-cover conversion, cultivation of favorable species, and transfer of organisms between locations. Remote sensing aids analyses of these interactions and, ultimately, contributes information to decision makers for improved management. Multidecadal records from multispectral sensors have been the mainstay for studying terrestrial vegetation at regional and global scales. Representation of vegetation and carbon dynamics is now routine in Earth system models. Challenges remain to incorporate realistic ecological disturbances and human land-use activities based on remote sensing observations. Hyperspectral, LIDAR, and radar systems contribute new capabilities for observing nitrogen fluxes, vegetation stress, canopy structure, and in some cases individual species.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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