Fractional Cover (FC) provides a representation of the proportions of living vegetation, dry and dying vegetation (including deciduous trees during autumn, dying grass, etc.), and bare soils across the Australian continent for any point in time in the Landsat archive since 1987. FC can potentially provide insight into areas of dry/dying vegetation and/or bare soil as well as allowing the mapping of living vegetation extent.
Fractional cover data can be used to identify large scale patterns and trends and inform evidence based decision making and policy on topics including wind and water erosion risk, soil carbon dynamics, land management practices and rangeland condition. This information could enable policy agencies, natural and agricultural land resource managers, and scientists to monitor land conditions over large areas over long time frames.
The Fractional Cover (FC) algorithm was developed by the Joint Remote Sensing Research Program and is described in described in Scarth et al. (2010). It has been implemented by Geoscience Australia for every observation from Landsat Thematic Mapper (Landsat 5), Enhanced Thematic Mapper (Landsat 7) and Operational Land Imager (Landsat 8) acquired since 1987. It is calculated from surface reflectance data.
FC provides a fractional cover representation of the proportions of green or photosynthetic vegetation, non-photosynthetic vegetation, and bare surface cover across the Australian continent. The fractions are retrieved by inverting multiple linear regression estimates and using synthetic endmembers in a constrained non-negative least squares unmixing model. For further information please see the articles below describing the method implemented which are free to read:
Scarth, P, Roder, A and Schmidt, M 2010, 'Tracking grazing pressure and climate interaction - the role of Landsat fractional cover in time series analysis', Proceedings of the 15th Australasian Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Conference,
Schmidt, M, Denham, R and Scarth, P 2010, 'Fractional ground cover monitoring of pastures and agricultural areas in Queensland', Proceedings of the 15th Australasian Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Conference
A summary of the algorithm developed by the Joint Remote Sensing Centre is also available from the AusCover website: http://www.auscover.org.au/purl/landsat-fractional-cover-jrsrp