The rangelands project has 3 major objectives:
Identifying correlations between spectral signatures and biophysical parameters. These relationships are analysed in an extensive field experiment carried out in the Syrian Steppe, East of Aleppo. The spectral signature and other parameters of some dominant plant species are measured at weekly intervals. The intention is to analyse parameters triggering vegetation growth for later modelling, and to link the spectral response and/or the growing characteristics of plants/plant associations to its phenology, grazability, or carrying capacity.
Improving the possibilities for describing the status quo and the monitoring of range-lands by analysing possibilities for distinguishing between annual and perennial plants. Analyses of green biomass such as NDVI calculations, where annuals and perennials are treated as one class, do not reflect the distinct value of each group sufficiently well. The ability to separate the two classes will decisively improve judgements on range condition/degradation, especially those on soil erosion risk or on carbon storage.
Results obtained from the above objectives shall be fed into a systematic remote sensing approach, to support range management. Specific problems to be addressed are the identification of suitable grazing periods and carrying capacities, short-term projections on upcoming grazing capacities, and outlining areas for rehabilitation.
Field surveys are currently concentrating on the Steppe areas of Syria that can be generally described as areas that receive less than 200 - 220 mm total annual precipitation.