Rasmus Fensholt

Rasmus Fensholt
University of Copenhagen · Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management

PhD.

About

271
Publications
140,862
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14,404
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Additional affiliations
August 2017 - present
University of Copenhagen
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (271)
Preprint
Context Deforestation remains one of the most pressing threats to biodiversity. Characterizing the resulting forest loss and fragmentation efficiently from remotely sensed data therefore has strong practical implications. Data are often separately analyzed for spatial fragmentation and disorder, but no existing metric simultaneously quantifies the...
Article
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Mapping forests with satellite images at local to global scale is done on a routine basis, but to go beyond the mapping of forest cover and towards characterizing forests according to their types, species and use, requires a dense time‐series of images. This knowledge is important, because ecological and economic values differ between forests. A ne...
Preprint
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The consistent monitoring of trees both inside and outside of forests is key to mitigating climate change. Current monitoring systems either ignore trees outside forests or are too expensive to be applied consistently across countries on a repeated basis. Here we make use of the PlanetScope nanosatellite constellation, which delivers global very hi...
Article
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Soil moisture estimates at high spatial and temporal resolution are of great value for optimizing water and agricultural management. To fill the gap between local ground observations and coarse spatial resolution remote sensing products, we use Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and Sentinel-1 data together with a unique data set of ground-based s...
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Aim: Widespread greening and an increasing global terrestrial carbon sink over recent decades have been reported. However, the spatio-temporal relationships between vegetation greenness and productivity and the factors influencing this relationship remain unclear. We define a new metric of ecosystem-scale photosynthetic efficiency (EPE) to analyse...
Article
Savannas cover a wide climatic gradient across large portions of the Earth’s land surface and are an important component of the terrestrial biosphere. Savannas have been undergoing changes that alter the composition and structure of their vegetation such as the encroachment of woody vegetation and increasing land-use intensity. Monitoring the spati...
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Intelligent forest management is the key to mitigating climate warming, fostering a green economy, and protecting valuable habitats. Detailed knowledge about forests is a prerequisite for such management but is conventionally based on costly plot-scale data, rarely available at resolution of relevance for management strategies. Here, we present a d...
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Herbaceous aboveground biomass (HAB) is a key indicator of grassland vegetation and indirect estimation tools, such as remote sensing imagery, increase the potential for covering larger areas in a timely and cost-efficient way. Structure from Motion (SfM) is an image analysis process that can create a variety of 3D spatial models as well as 2D orth...
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Trees sustain livelihoods and mitigate climate change, but a predominance of trees outside forests and limited resources make it difficult for many developing countries to conduct frequent nation-wide inventories. Here, we propose a rapid and accurate approach to map the carbon stock of each individual tree and shrub at the national scale of Rwanda...
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China has experienced unprecedented urbanization and associated rural depopulation during recent decades alongside a massive increase in the total population. By using satellite and demographical datasets, we here test the hypothesis that urbanization and carbon neutrality are not mutually exclusive and that sustainably managed urbanization may eve...
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Urbanization as a global phenomenon is a multifaceted process. Here we do the first global attempt to characterize the complexity of urbanization from 1975 to 2015 in terms of population, built-up structure, and greenness per 5 × 5 km² grid covering global inhabited areas, using Earth Observation data sources. Our results emphasize the multifaceted...
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Multipurpose Faidherbia albida trees represent a vital component of agroforestry park-lands in West Africa as they provide resources (fodder for livestock, fruits and firewood) and support water lifting and nutrient recycling for cropping. Faidherbia albida trees are characterized by their inverse phenology, growing leaf flowers and pods during the...
Preprint
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1.Herbaceous aboveground biomass (HAB) is a key indicator of grassland vegetation and indirect estimation tools, such as remote sensing imagery, increase the potential for covering larger areas in a timely and cost-efficient way. Structure from motion (SfM) is an image analysis process that can create a 3D model from a set of images. 2: Computed fr...
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Large-scale ecological restoration (ER) projects have been implemented in northwest China in recent decades as a means to prevent desertification and improve ecosystem services. However, previous studies have demonstrated adverse impacts in the form of widespread soil water deficit caused by intensive ER activities. Understanding the role of climat...
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In their Letter to the Editor, Giglio and Zubkova (2021; subsequently G&Z) argued that our study underestimated the fire trends in Africa and lacked evidence to support cropland expansion and its role on fire decline in northern Africa. Below we answer their concerns.
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Armed conflicts often hinder food security through cropland abandonment and restrict the collection of on-the-ground information required for targeted relief distribution. Satellite remote sensing provides a means for gathering information about disruptions during armed conflicts and assessing the food security status in conflict zones. Using ~7,50...
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Urban greening can enhance quality of life by generating ecosystem services and has been proposed as a way of mitigating adverse consequences of global warming for human health. However, there is limited knowledge on global trends in urban vegetation and their relation to economic development and climate change. Here we studied 1,688 major cities w...
Article
Changes in soil moisture strongly affect vegetation growth, which may in turn feed back on soil moisture by directly affecting evapotranspiration and indirectly regulating precipitation. Previous studies often focused on the unidirectional effects of soil moisture on temporal vegetation dynamics, yet bidirectional dependencies have rarely been stud...
Preprint
Soil moisture estimates at high spatial and temporal resolution are of great value for optimizing water and agricultural management. To fill the gap between local ground observations and coarse spatial resolution remote sensing products we use SMAP and Sentinel-1 data together with a unique dataset of ground based soil moisture estimates by cosmic...
Article
Full-text available
Mapping of the Arctic region is increasingly important in light of global warming as land cover maps can provide the foundation for upscaling of ecosystem properties and processes. To this end, satellite images provide an invaluable source of Earth observations to monitor land cover in areas that are otherwise difficult to access. With the continuo...
Article
RESUME L’objectif de cette étude est d’évaluer l’influence de la saison des pluies sur quelques paramètres de la phytomasse herbacée. L’étude s’est déroulée dans une zone de libre pâturage où les mesures de phytomasse sont faites tous les dix jours et les pluies journalières relevées durant toute la saison des pluies pendant onze ans. Le test de co...
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In Ethiopia land degradation through soil erosion is of major concern. Land degradation mainly results from heavy rainfall events and droughts and is associated with a loss of vegetation and a reduction in soil fertility. To counteract land degradation in Ethiopia, initiatives such as the Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) have been imple...
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Monitoring spatio-temporal changes in winter wheat planting areas is of high importance for the evaluation of food security. This is particularly the case in China, having the world’s largest population and experiencing rapid urban expansion, concurrently, it puts high pressure on food demands and the availability of arable land. The relatively hig...
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Land conversion is causing habitat loss and fragmentation worldwide, particularly in Africa, where the proliferation of agricultural development corridors may threaten vital areas for ecological connectivity and wildlife survival. To conserve connectivity, careful landscape planning is necessary, which strongly relies on remotely sensed land cover...
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p>The following authors were omitted from the original version of this Data Descriptor: Markus Reichstein and Nicolas Vuichard. Both contributed to the code development and N. Vuichard contributed to the processing of the ERA-Interim data downscaling. Furthermore, the contribution of the co-author Frank Tiedemann was re-evaluated relative to the co...
Article
The Tibetan Plateau is the highest and largest plateau in the world, hosting unique alpine grassland and having a much higher snow cover than any other region at the same latitude, thus representing a “climate change hot-spot”. Land surface phenology characterizes the timing of vegetation seasonality at the per-pixel level using remote sensing syst...
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Dryland ecosystems are a major source of land cover, account for about 40% of Earth's terrestrial surface and net primary productivity, and house more than 30 % of the human population. These ecosystems are subject to climate extremes (e.g. large-scale droughts and extreme floods) that are projected to increase in frequency and severity under most...
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Global climate change is projected to lead to an increase in both the areal extent and degree of aridity in the world’s drylands. At the same time, the majority of drylands are located in developing countries where high population densities and rapid population growth place additional pressure on the ecosystem. Thus, drylands are particularly vulne...
Preprint
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The vegetation optical depth (VOD), a vegetation index retrieved from passive or active microwave remote sensing systems, is related to the intensity of microwave extinction effects within the vegetation canopy layer. This index is only marginally impacted by effects from atmosphere, clouds and sun illumination, and thus increasingly used for ecolo...
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Woody vegetation dynamics in the Sahel have been debated since the great droughts of the 1970s–1980s. Here, we combined high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery, field inventory, and historical botanical records to study woody vegetation trends over the years 1965, 1980, 2008, and 2018 in the Ferlo, the Sahelian sylvo-pastoral zone of Senegal....
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Rapid population growth in West Africa has exerted increasing pressures on land resources, leading to observable changes in the land cover and land use. However, spatially explicit and thematically detailed quantitative analyses of land cover change over long time periods and at regional scale have been lacking. Here we present a change intensity a...
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Historical land cover maps are of high importance for scientists and policy makers studying the dynamic character of land cover change in the Sudano-Sahel, including anthropogenic and climatological drivers. Despite its relevance, an accurate high resolution record of historical land cover maps is currently lacking over the Sudano-Sahel. In this st...
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A large proportion of dryland trees and shrubs (hereafter referred to collectively as trees) grow in isolation, without canopy closure. These non-forest trees have a crucial role in biodiversity, and provide ecosystem services such as carbon storage, food resources and shelter for humans and animals1,2. However, most public interest relating to tre...
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Earth observation‐based estimates of global gross primary production (GPP) are essential for understanding the response of the terrestrial biosphere to climatic change and other anthropogenic forcing. In this study, we attempt an ecosystem‐level physiological approach of estimating GPP using an asymptotic light response function (LRF) between GPP a...
Article
The vegetation optical depth (VOD), a vegetation index retrieved from passive or active microwave remote sensing systems, is related to the intensity of microwave extinction effects within the vegetation canopy layer. This index is only marginally impacted by effects from atmosphere, clouds and sun illumination, and thus increasingly used for ecolo...
Article
Full-text available
This study is based on the analysis of field-measured nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from a Sahelian semi-arid grassland site in Senegal (Dahra), tropical humid agricultural plots in Kenya (Mbita region) and simulations using a 1D model designed for semi arid ecosystems in Dahra. This study aims at improving present knowledge and inventories of N2O...
Preprint
Full-text available
Armed conflicts often result in cropland abandonment with significant impacts on food security. Moreover, conflicts restrict the collection of on-the-ground information required for organizing targeted relief distribution. Satellite remote sensing provides a way of observationally gathering information about disruptions during armed conflicts and f...
Article
The spatial pattern of forests impacts on biodiversity, stability and sustainability of forest ecosystems. Afforestation and reforestation projects have massively increased forested areas on the Chinese Loess Plateau, however, the spatial pattern of the new and old forests, as well as their interaction, remains unknown. Here we study the spatiotemp...
Article
Drylands occupy 43% of the African continent and play an important role in the global carbon cycle and in supporting local livelihoods. Understanding how dryland ecosystems respond to environmental changes, both structurally and functionally, is of great significance for sustainable dryland management. In this article, we review the current remote...
Preprint
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Monitoring long-term landslide activity is important for risk assessment and land management. Despite the widespread use of open-access 30m Landsat imagery, their utility for landslide detection is often limited when separating landslides from other anthropogenic disturbances. Here, we produce landslide maps retrospectively from 1998 to 2017 for la...
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Dryland ecosystems are frequently struck by droughts. Yet, woody vegetation is often able to recover from mortality events once precipitation returns to pre-drought conditions. Climate change, however, may impact woody vegetation resilience due to more extreme and frequent droughts. Thus, better understanding how woody vegetation responds to drough...
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The FLUXNET2015 dataset provides ecosystem-scale data on CO2, water, and energy exchange between the biosphere and the atmosphere, and other meteorological and biological measurements, from 212 sites around the globe (over 1500 site-years, up to and including year 2014). These sites, independently managed and operated, voluntarily contributed their...
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Full-text available
The FLUXNET2015 dataset provides ecosystem-scale data on CO2, water, and energy exchange between the biosphere and the atmosphere, and other meteorological and biological measurements, from 212 sites around the globe (over 1500 site-years, up to and including year 2014). These sites, independently managed and operated, voluntarily contributed their...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dryland ecosystems form a major land cover, accounting for about 40 % of Earth's terrestrial surface and net primary productivity, and housing more than 30 % of the human population. These ecosystems are subject to climate extremes (e.g. large-scale droughts) that are projected to increase in frequency and severity under most future climate scenari...
Article
Full-text available
ContextSouth China karst is undergoing large scale land-use conversions driven by reforestation projects aiming at combating land degradation. However, the spatial extent of these human induced land-use changes is largely unknown.Objectives This study aims at quantifying land use changes in South China karst in the context of large scale restoratio...
Poster
Full-text available
Ecosystems in drylands are highly susceptible to changes in their way of functioning due to extreme and prolonged droughts or anthropogenic perturbation. Long-standing pressure, from climate or human action, may result in severe alterations in their dynamics. Moreover, changes in dryland ecosystems functioning can take place abruptly (Horion et al....
Article
Dynamics of fires in Africa are of critical importance for understanding changes in ecosystem properties and effects on the global carbon cycle. Given increasing fire risk from projected warming on the one hand and a documented human driven decline in fires on the other, it is still unknown how the complex interplay between climate and human factor...
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Aim Changes in dryland ecosystem functioning are threatening the well‐being of human populations worldwide, and land degradation, exacerbated by climate change, contributes to biodiversity loss and puts pressures on sustainable livelihoods. Here, abrupt changes in ecosystem functioning [so‐called turning points (TPs)] were detected using time serie...
Article
Remote sensing-derived cropland products have depicted the location and extent of agricultural lands with an ever increasing accuracy. However, limited attention has been devoted to distinguishing between actively cropped fields and fallowed fields within agricultural lands, and in particular so in grass fallow systems of semi-arid areas. In the Sa...
Article
Aim To study global patterns and temporal changes in the seasonal dynamics (quantity and seasonal distribution) of terrestrial gross carbon uptake in response to global environmental change. Location Global. Time period 2000–2016. Major taxa studied Terrestrial ecosystems. Methods Following a phenology‐based definition of photosynthetic seasona...
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Anthropogenic land use and land cover changes (LULCC) have a large impact on the global terrestrial carbon sink, but this effect is not well characterized according to biogeographical region. Here, using state-of-the-art Earth observation data and a dynamic global vegetation model, we estimate the impact of LULCC on the contribution of biomes to th...
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Severe drought and extreme heat associated with the 2015–2016 El Niño event have led to large carbon emissions from the tropical vegetation to the atmosphere. With the return to normal climatic conditions in 2017, tropical forest aboveground carbon (AGC) stocks are expected to partly recover due to increased productivity, but the intensity and spat...
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Land use policies have turned southern China into one of the most intensively managed forest regions in the world, with actions maximizing forest cover on soils with marginal agricultural potential while concurrently increasing livelihoods and mitigating climate change. Based on satellite observations, here we show that diverse land use changes in...