We at TERN acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians throughout Australia, New Zealand and all nations. We honour their profound connections to land, water, biodiversity and culture and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
This dataset was produced by the Joint Remote Sensing Research Program using data sourced from the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel Progam.
This product captures variability in fractional cover at seasonal (i.e. three-monthly) time scales, forming a consistent time series from late 2015 - present. It is useful for investigating recent inter-annual changes in vegetation cover and analysing regional comparisons. For applications that focus on non-woody vegetation the Landsat-derived ground cover product may be more suitable. For applications investigating rapid change during a season, the monthly composite or single-date (available on request) fractional cover products may be more appropriate. This product is based upon the JRSRP Fractional Cover 3.0 algorithm.
A 3 band (byte) image is produced: band 1 – bare ground fraction (bare ground, rock, disturbed) in percent, band 2 - green vegetation fraction in percent, band 3 – non-green vegetation fraction (litter, dead leaf and branches) in percent. The no data value is 255.
Summary of processing: Sentinel 2 surface reflectance data > multiple single-date fractional cover datasets > seasonal composite of fractional cover
Further details are provided in the Methods section.
Image Pre-processing: Sentinel-2 data was downloaded from the ESA as Level 1C (version 02.04 system). Masks for cloud, cloud shadow, topographic shadow and water were applied as described in Flood (2017).
Fractional Cover Model: A multilayer perceptron (MLP) model is used to estimate percentage cover in three fractions – bare ground, photosynthetic vegetation (PV) and non-photosynthetic vegetation (NPV) from surface reflectance, for every image captured within the season. The MLP model was trained with Tensorflow using Landsat TM, ETM+ and OLI surface reflectance and a collection of approimately 4000 field observations of overstorey and ground cover. The field observations covered a wide variety of vegetation, soil and climate types across Australia, collected between 1997 and 2018 following the procedure outlined in Muir et al (2011). As the model is trained on Landsat imagery, the Sentinel-2 reflectance values are slightly adjusted to more closely resemble Landsat imagery, then the fractional cover model is applied. The model was assessed to predict the vegetation cover fractions with MAE/wMAPE/RMSE of: bare - 6.9%/34.9%/14.5% photosynthetic vegetation (PV) - 4.6%/37.9%/10.6% non-photosynthetic vegetation (NPV) - 9.8%/25.2%/16.9%.
Data Compositing: The method of compositing selected representative pixels through the determination of the medoid (multi-dimensional equivalent of the median) of at least three observations of fractional cover imagery. The medoid is the point which minimises the total distance between the selected point and all other points. Thus the selected point is “in the middle” of the set of points. It is robust against extreme values, inherently avoiding the selection of outliers, such as occurs when cloud or cloud shadow goes undetected. Unfortunately, due to the high level of cloud cover in some areas, often three cloud free pixels are not available, resulting in data gaps in the seasonal fractional cover image. For further details on this method see Flood (2013).