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Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective.

Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective. John R. Jensen. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 2000. ISBN 0-13-489733-1. xvi and 544 pp, appendix, photos, maps, diagrams, tables, 32 pp of color plates. Hardcopy $91.

John R. Jensen's new book, Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective, is a very welcome addition to the existing array of texts dealing with remote sensing, and a most able complement to his widely used book on digital image analysis, Introductory Digital Image Processing: A Remote Sensing Perspective (2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1996). In the preface of the new book it is noted that the "book was written for physical, natural and social scientists interested in how remote sensing ... can be used to solve real-world problems." In this task, it succeeds admirably.

Remote Sensing of the Environment is comprised of 13 chapters, the first nine of which cover the physical fundamentals of remote sensing; principles of electromagnetic radiation; aerial photography and aerial platforms; elements of visual image interpretation and photogrammetry; multispectral remote sensing systems; thermal infrared systems; active and passive microwave remote sensing techniques; and lidar remote sensing. Four concluding chapters deal with applications of remote sensing in the vegetation sciences; water resources sciences; the urban landscape; and investigations of soils, minerals and geomorphology. Each of the book's chapters includes several pages of references, many from journals published as recently as 1999. The text is, in fact, distinguished throughout by its up-to-date coverage, including, for example, thorough treatments of both the IKONOS and Terra satellite systems launched in 1999, and of sensors such as EO-1 that are scheduled to become operational in the near future. An unusually detailed six-page table of contents supplements a comprehensive index to enable the reader to easily find material of interest.

The narrative is enhanced by hundreds of well selected and well designed tables, diagrams, photographs, maps and images, including 32 pages of color plates. The reproduction of both black and white and color graphics is uniformly excellent, and enhanced by the book's relatively large (8.5 x 11 inch) format. Indeed, the artful design of the integrated text and graphics makes for a far more compelling and interesting presentation than that offered in other contemporary introductory remote sensing textbooks.

The book concludes with a thorough appendix that provides guidance to additional sources of information on remote sensing, including listings of major textbooks, on-line tutorials, professional societies, national space agencies, major journals, and sites for acquiring aerial photography and multispectral and radar data. Internet addresses are provided for virtually all listings. To augment the text and to provide for updates, the author has established two Internet sites at rsbook/links/ (still under construction as of August 2000) and rsbook/exercises/. The latter site provides 13 laboratory exercises keyed to the chapters in the book.

Remote sensing is a large, diverse, and rapidly changing area of technology with myriad applications. No single book can be expected to cover all aspects of the field in equal depth, yet Remote Sensing of the Environment is outstanding in a great many areas. Among the book's many strengths are its discussions of energy-matter interactions; physical characteristics and operation of virtually every significant sensor (past, present and near-future); analysis and applications of hyperspectral data; formulation and application of vegetation indices; and estimation of biophysical parameters via remote sensing. Complex topics such as radar interferometry and the bidirectional reflectance distribution function are treated with technical rigor, but in such a way that they will be readily comprehensible to most readers.

Of course, in order to keep the book a reasonable length, some compromises in subject matter were clearly inevitable. Procedures for collecting ground truth and methods for assessing the accuracy of products derived from remote sensing (e.g., development and analysis of error matrices) are, for example, occasionally alluded to, but never presented in detail. Moreover, there is scant discussion of digital image analysis techniques (e.g., multispectral classification), even though images and maps derived via digital image processing are scattered throughout the book (e.g., plates 10-2 and 10-5). In the preface, it is explicitly stated that this book is intended as a companion volume to Jensen's previously published text on digital image processing (in which, incidentally, accuracy assessment is also discussed). Nonetheless, Remote Sensing of the Environment would be strengthened by an addition of an elementary, conceptual overview of some important techniques in digital image analysis, and a brief introduction to accuracy assessment. Such additions would better enable the book to serve as a stand-alone text for a one-semester survey course in remote sensing of the sort that most in the book's intended audience are likely to take.

The many virtues of Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective set it quite apart from other contemporary works covering some of the same subject matter. It is a book that would serve as a superior text for an introductory and/or intermediate level course in remote sensing. As a reference, the volume should be in the library of virtually every remote sensing specialist.

James W. Merchant University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Merchant, James W.
Publication:Cartography and Geographic Information Science
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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