Science Service System

Summary of Proposal LAN2391

TitleAssessment of environmental risks, groundwater potential and population dynamics around IDP/refugee camps.
Investigator Braun, Andreas - University of Tuebingen, Department for Geography
Team Members
Prof. Dr. Hilberg, Sylke - University of Salzburg, Department for Geography and Geology
Dr. Wendt, Lorenz - University of Salzburg, Z_GIS
Mr. Papp, Andreas - Médecins Sans Frontičres – Ärzte ohne Grenzen , MSF Austria
SummaryEO4HumEn stands for "Earth observation-based services to support humanitarian operations: monitoring population and natural resources in refugee/IDP camps". The project is funded by the Austrian Space Applications Program (ASAP) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) over 30 months between 08/2014 and 01/2016. A total number of thirteen persons is involved in the project (including PI and Co-Is). The main objective is to develop workflows that provide useful information which can assist the organization, planning and monitoring of emerging refugee camps in areas of conflict. As time is an critical factor in crisis situations and access to specific areas is often restricted, a this information will be derived from Earth observation (EO) and GIS data. Respective operational services and products will be developed in line with previously identified (short- and midterm) user requirements, such as:
  1. Population estimation based on dwelling structures identified on spaceborne very high spatial resolution (VHR) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data; camp evolution monitored by multi-temporal data,
  2. Identification of potential locations for groundwater extraction using high spatial resolution (HR) satellite data as well as auxiliary SAR data;
  3. Environmental impact assessments to evaluate the implications of environmental degradation on human security and ecosystem integrity in the vicinity of the camps based SAR data and time-series of high spatial resolution (HR) satellite data as a multi-temporal approach.
Two key methodologies are used in the EO4HumEn project:
  • Image fusion will be one of the main challenges in order to combine SAR images with high resolution optical data. As both are based on completely different acquisition techniques regarding incidence angle or wavelength for example, they contain a wide range of complementary information. While optical data contribute high spatial resolutions, radar signals provide additional information on the surface characteristics which HR and VHR data are not able to detect. Especially these surface characteristics are a valuable source of information for environmental parameters, such as soil conditions, surface wetness or biomass. The fusion of both information sources can either be technically achieved by creating one merged output image with maximized and non-redundant variability or by geostatistical combinations of both sources for regression purposes such as random-forest or support vector machine (SVM) approaches.
  • Object based image analysis (OBIA) aims at automating image analysis and developing transferable classification routines. OBIA methods will be developed, tested and applied for automated extraction of dwelling structures, land use/land cover (LULC) classifications as well as for change analysis. Potential locations for groundwater extraction will be identified based on earth observation data and auxiliary data. In this context the EO4HumEn project aims at integrating different data sources and developing (semi-automated) methods for identifying relevant geological structures (i.e. lineaments).
Besides the data addressed in this proposal, the Z_GIS has access to the corresponding HR and VHR data, including WorldView-2, RapidEye, SPOT-5, QuickBird, IKONOS and Landsat ETM+/OLI. Additional data will be ordered as agreed in the projects funding according to the research proposal. Additional access to conventional TerraSAR-X products is granted by a PI proposal accepted in October 2013 (LAN0625).
The accuracy of the results will be assessed by the producers taking into account ground reference data provided by the user. The developed products will be provided as maps, reports and will be fully validated by the user in terms of their relevance and usability. In addition to traditional maps, the results will be presented to the users via a web-portal, available for querying and visualization purpose.

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