On July 14th, 2022, Dr. Pinki Mondal from the department of Geography and Spatial Sciences presented virtually on Global Vegetation in a Changing Climate. This was part of the university’s Ocean Currents Lecture Series.

While Dr. Mondal has been a part of many different research projects, she is currently a part of the Earth Observation for Sustainable Ecosystem and Livelihood (EASEL) Research Group. This group works on remote sensing of the environment using primarily Landsat and Sentinel global satellite data. EASEL researchers use a combination of sunlight-dependent images (passive remote sensing) and sunlight-independent images (active remote sensing). EASEL works to interpret the information extracted from satellite images and relay it to policymakers and the community.

Read more about EASEL’s research on their website: http://www.easel-lab-mondal.com/

Dr. Mondal discussed her research on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and how she uses this index to quantify the healthiness of plants. An NDVI can be any number between -1 and +1. The NDVI is based on the difference between the green light and red light that infrared technology detects in vegetation. Healthy vegetation reflects a negligible amount of red light, so this vegetation would have a higher NDVI. The healthiest plants have NDVIs that are 0.66-1. 

Dr. Mondal later discussed the application of her satellite research to the deforestation of the Amazon, which can be quantified using satellite imagery. In the first six months of 2022, 3,988 square kilometers of Amazonian forest have been destroyed. This area is five times the size of New York City. 

Dr. Mondal closed the discussion of her research by talking about food security versus drought. She explained how her research in India helped her to understand how small farmers in India cope with the negative effects of droughts and what factors caused certain farmers to have greater vulnerability to these effects. 

Dr. Mondal concluded her presentation with a brief overview of the concept of SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals, and how these can be applied to the global issues she presented.

Image from https://scitechdaily.com/changing-vegetation-a-key-driver-of-global-temperatures-over-last-10000-years/