Whiting, Michael


Mike Whiting

    Mike Whiting is an Assistant Professional Researcher (recently retired) and Lecturer whose interests include spectroscopy techniques of minerals and vegetation for hyperspectral field and image data.  Dr. Whiting lectures the Environmental Science and Management (ESM-185) Aerial Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing class in the fall quarters of odd years.  


Ph.D. Soils and Biogeochemistry, 2004. University of California, Davis.

M.S. Soil Science, 1975. University of California, Davis.

B.S. Renewable Natural Resources, 1970. University of California, Davis.

Research Interests

Specifically, his research interests are in applying image spectroscopy to determine surface water content to significantly improve abundance estimation of mineral, biological soil crust, conservation tillage residue, and other inorganic and organic materials.  The past few years, primary research funding has been in precision agricultural applications of field, airborne, and satellite imagery for leaf area, and water and pigment contents of cotton, grape, almond, and pistachio.  In addition, past projects included submerged aquatic vegetation and oil spill absorption products.

Current research focuses on:

  • Applying time-series analysis to satellite and weather data to determine the relationships between phenology and yield in almond trees (link).
  • Calibrating airborne imagery to water content and water potential in cotton, almond, pistachio, and grape leaves and canopy.
  • Developing user interfaces for improving soil mineral and water quantification.

Current Project:

US Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, to determine water and nutrient stress for improved management and yield.

Recent Past Projects

Cotton Incorporated, State Advisory Committee, funded determining the readiness of cotton crop for harvest aid chemical applications using field and airborne hyperspectral and multiband data, including evaluating commercially available ruggedized instrument for determining high leaf area.

US Department of Energy, National Global Environmental Change Institute, funded determining the surface abundance of biological soil crust for modeling CO2 exchange rates in SW US deserts.

California State Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (SSEP) funded determining the effectiveness of sorbent materials for reducing stickiness of oil on water fowl and mammals.

Previous Career

Previously, Dr. Whiting completed a full career (1978-2004) with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) as the State Resources Inventory Specialist for California, and later Regional Resources Inventory Specialist for the ten western states.  He provided remote sensing training, satellite and airborne imagery acquisitions, GIS training and support, and led the California effort of the National Resources Inventory (1982, 1987, and 1992).

Before joining USDA-SCS, he lectured at Lassen Community College, Susanville, California, and was an owner/operator of a small hay/grain and garlic farm.

Selected Publications

Cheng, T.,Riaño, D., Koltunov, A., Whiting, M.L., Ustin, S.L., and Rodriguez, J. 2013. Detection of diurnal variation in orchard canopy water content using MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) data. Remote Sensing of Environment 132:1-12.

Palacios-Orueta, A., Huesca,M., Whiting, M.L., Litago, J., Khanna, S., Garcia, M., and Ustin, S.L., 2012. Derivation of phenological metrics by function fitting to time-series of Spectral Shape Indexes AS1 and AS2: Mapping cotton phenological stages using MODIS time series. Remote Sensing of Environment 126:148-159.

Zarate-Valdez, J.L., Whiting, M.L., Lampinen, B.D., Metcalf, S., Ustin, S.L., and Brown, P.H., 2012. Prediction of leaf area index in almonds by vegetation indexes. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 85:24-32.

Cheng, T., Riaño, D., Koltunov, A., Whiting, M.L., and Ustin, S.L. 2011. Remote detection of water stress in orchard canopies using MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) data. Optics & Photonics Symposium, San Diego, CA. 15-18 August 2011).

Ruiz, J.A.M., Riaño, D., Arbelo, M., French, N.H.F., Ustin, S.L., and Whiting, M.L., 2011. Burned area mapping time series in Canada (1984–1999) from NOAA-AVHRR LTDR: A comparison with other remote sensing products and fire perimeters. Remote Sensing of Environment 117:407-414.

Whiting, M.L. 2009. Measuring surface water in soil with light reflectance. In Wei Gao, Thomas J. Jackson, ed. Optics & Photonics Symposium, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), Remote Sensing and Modeling of Ecosystems for Sustainability VI, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7454, 74540D.

Ustin, S.L., Palacios-Orueta, A., Whiting, M.L., Jacquemoud, S., and Li, L., 2009. Remote sensing based assessment of biophysical indicators for land degradation and desertification, In: Roder, A. and Hill, J. (eds.), Recent Advances in Remote  Sensing and Geoinformation Processing for Land Degradation Assessment. Taylor & Francis Group (CRC Press/Balkema), London, UK.

Ben-Dor, E., S. Chabrillat, J.A.M. Demattê, G.R. Taylor, J. Hill, M.L. Whiting, and S. Sommer. 2009. Using Imaging Spectroscopy to study soil properties. Remote Sensing of Environment 113:538-555.

Ben-Dor, E., R.G. Taylor, J. Hill, J.A.M. Dematte, M.L. Whiting, S. Chabrillat, and S. Sommer. 2008. Chapter 8. Imaging Spectrometry for Soil Applications., In D. Spark, ed. Advances in Agronomy 97: 321-391. Elsevier Inc.

Khanna, S., S.L. Ustin, A. Palacios-Orueta, M.L. Whiting, D. Riaño, and J. Litago. 2007. Development of angle indexes for soil moisture estimation, dry matter detection and land-cover discrimination. Remote Sensing of Environment 109:154-165.

Whiting, M.L., S.L. Ustin, P. Zarco-Tejada, A. Palacios-Orueta, and V.C. Vanderbilt. 2006. Hyperspectral mapping of crop and soils for precision agriculture.  In Wei Gao, ed. Optics & Photonics Symposium, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), The International Society of Optical Engineering, Remote Sensing and Modeling of Ecosystems for Sustainability VI, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 6298-11.

Zarco-Tejada, P.J., S.L. Ustin, and M.L. Whiting. 2005. Temporal and spatial relationships between cotton yield and high-spatial hyperspectral remote sensing imagery. Agronomy Journal 97:641–653.

Ustin, S.L., D. Darling, S. Kefauver, J. Greenberg, Y.-B. Cheng, and M.L. Whiting. 2004. Remotely sensed estimates of crop water demand. Optics & Photonics Symposium, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), International Society for Optical Engineering, 2-6 August 2004, Denver, CO.  number: 5544-31.

Whiting, M.L., L. Li, and S.L. Ustin. 2004. Predicting water content using Gaussian model on soil spectra. Remote Sensing of Environment 89:535-552.

Whiting, M.L. 2004. Improving clay and carbonate hyperspectral image estimates by integrating soil moisture model. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Davis.

Whiting, M.L., DeGloria, S.D., Benson, A.S., and Wall, S.L., 1987. Estimating conservation tillage residue using aerial photography. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 42:130-132.

DeGloria, S.D., Wall, S.L., Benson, A.S., and Whiting, M.L., 1986. Monitoring conservation tillage practices using Landsat multispectral data. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 41:187-190.

Research Project

  • Time Series of Landsat Imagery to Evaluate Canopy Variation OVer Multiple Seasons (LINK here)
  • Quantitative mapping of surface soil moisture with hyperspectral imagery using the HYSOMA Interface (LINK here)
  • Determination of Crop Residue Cover Using Field Spectroscopy (LINK here)
  • Precision Farming Field Studies for Cotton Harvest Aid Chemical Management (LINK here)
  • Quantifying Surface Soil and Biological Crust (LINK here)


Contact Information

Michael L. Whiting
Center for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing (CSTARS)
Dept. Land, Air, and Water Resources,
University of California
121 Veihmeyer Hall, One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Phone: +1 530.304.2864
Fax: +1 530.752.5262

email: mwhiting@ucdavis.edu