Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Satellite view highlights Europe’s changing landscape

12.11.2004



Image2000 coverage


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.


"What we are able to see from satellite data is that the increase in soil that is sealed off by human infrastructure activities is even greater than we anticipated", says Chris Steenmans, Project Manager for Land and Remote Sensing at the EEA. "Fragmentation of land is a time bomb. Each year only a small fraction of the landscape will change its function. This is not enough for you to really feel the change as dramatic. But if you use satellite data over a span of ten years you can really see a difference".

The project is contributing to shaping Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative, which will provide environmental information from a combination of ground-, air- and space-based observation systems. Both EEA and ESA are partners in GMES.

The EEA performed its first survey of Europe using data from the early 1990s. With this new Image2000 survey based on data from 2000 one is able to compare and draw conclusions on trends in the landscape. Technological improvements during the decade also allow much more detailed studies.

"In many areas the data will prove that current policies are insufficient. We hope the tool will assist policy makers to make decisions in a more timely way, along integrated land planning concerns", comments Ronan Uhel, head of Spatial Analysis at the EEA.


Fragmenting landscape

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!
Further information:
http://www.esa.int

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New gene catalog of ocean microbiome reveals surprises

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device

18.08.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>