EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Monitoring Landscape Change: Fundamental Spectral Signatures and the Adaptive Management of Nature-Based Infrastructure  

Michael Luegering and William Basener
Michael Luegering and William Basener
  • University of Virginia, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Charlottesville, United States of America (

Nature-Based Infrastructure (NBI) should be designed to evolve over time with the ability to adapt to changing conditions while providing ecosystem benefits to form culturally valuable landscapes. There are substantial differences between NBI and traditional infrastructure - whose forms specifically do not change over time and do not migrate or evolve. Given these differences as well as the substantial operational scale of NBI, how do we monitor and determine their management needs?

Professors Basener and Luegering’s research examines the role of plants as vital elements of NBI, whose capacity to indicate climate change impacts as well as respond to varying conditions through existing genetic capacities such as rapid resprouting, rhizomatous or tillering root systems, present an immense opportunity to track, induce and manage these changes.  With plants at the center of the research, our work builds on emerging remote sensing techniques, to develop ‘Fundamental Signatures’ (FS), which are signatures whose development methods anticipate atmospheric material interference, increase and vary resolution, and increase seasonal collection frequency with sensitivity towards species habits and growth patterns. FS engage the chemistry and geometry of plants through the intentional usage of emerging technology in the form of Hyperspectral and LiDAR sensors.

We argue that the 2020 spectral research survey performed by Hennessy, Clarke and Andrew Hennessy in Hyperspectral Classification of Plants: A Review of Waveband Selection Generalizability, points to a need for a greatly expanded capture and classification of signatures associated with seasonal variation as well as environmental disturbance.  As such, we are working to develop controlled studies at our test plots at the University of Virginia’s Morven Sustainability Lab. With these test plots, we can track spectral changes with regular intervals, but further, we will create controlled inundations with salt and fresh water as well as manipulate the pH and soil composition to track a full range of spectral signatures within each species. We have teamed with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) to assist in study development as well as plant and knowledge exchange.

Our scale of study stretches from the single plant and test plot scale (CM scale) to the Chesapeake Bay (KM scale). As we develop Fundamental Signatures for indicator and disturbance invigorated species, we will begin to test them against seasonal large-scale data collections performed by the University of Vermont, including LiDAR and Hyperspectral data collected via manned aircraft. At the scale of the Chesapeake Bay, we can study the effectiveness of fundamental signatures in identifying existing plant communities as well as the identification of stressors through variegated portions of the fundamental signature.

The project continues to work towards several key outcomes, including the construction of a public fundamental signature library, the development of workflows for incorporating and updated landcover and Manning’s classifications for hydrodynamic modeling and design studies as well as field techniques for the propagation and manipulation of plants in Nature-Based Infrastructure. 

How to cite: Luegering, M. and Basener, W.: Monitoring Landscape Change: Fundamental Spectral Signatures and the Adaptive Management of Nature-Based Infrastructure  , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-1922,, 2023.