A new tool based on satellite data shows trends in the way Europeans use our landscape. Seen from the ground these changes appear gradual, but viewed from above they are often dramatic.
Each day new roads or buildings bury the equivalent of 240 football fields of German soil, around 120 hectares of land. This is just one example of the information available from a new virtual atlas of Europe’s landscape based on satellite data.
The European Environment Agency (EEA), assisted by ESA’s Earth Observation Directorate, is publishing the data on 17 November.
As an example of an area in need of better policies, Steenmans points to the impact of new motorways on the landscape: "Every day another 10 hectares – the equivalent of 20 football fields – of motorway is constructed in Europe. If you look at this development over a 50-year span you will see dramatic consequences for example for wildlife.
"One has to take into account that once this fragmentation of the landscape has happened, the situation is practically irreversible. Some countries – like Denmark – have tried to re-establish fragmented wetlands but this is very expensive".
Both the 1990 and the new survey are a part of an EEA programme called Corine (Coordination of Information on the Environment). ESA has assisted in the development of services based on satellite data.
"From ESA’s side we view this as a process which is more pulled by the users than pushed by technology. There is almost no end to the possibilities within the technology, so we focus on first developing services in the fields with the greatest demand", says Oliver Arino of ESA’s Earth Observation Directorate.
He explains that, in the case of monitoring changes in the landscape one can choose practically any scale depending on whether the focus is local, county, national or regional: "Depending on what kind of detail the user wants, we will have to use data from a different kind of satellite. But the processing of the data will be almost the same".
"Will my house be flooded?"
Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA, believes remote sensing from space opens plenty of new ground. She takes flooding as an example: “Based on satellite observations of actual floodings in recent years we will be able to see some trends. We can point out which areas are at higher risk of future flooding, and we can analyse how roads and other forms of sealing of the soil will impact flooding.
"This information is obviously of interest to policy makers. At the same time information on flooding will attract attention from people living in these areas. They might not be so interested in the overall trends but they want to know ’Will my house be flooded?’ Similarly people might want to check a number of other environmental developments in their neighbourhood."
The first edition of the virtual atlas based on 1990 data attracted more than 10 000 users. A dramatic increase in the number of users can be expected with the new version, as users will have much more detail and also be able to compare the changes over a decade.
Mariangela D’Acunto | EurekAlert!
Supercomputing helps researchers understand Earth's interior
23.05.2017 | University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
How is climate change affecting fauna in the Arctic?
22.05.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering