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Summary of Proposal HYD2578

TitleTerrasar-X applications in reconstructing Holocene dynamics between societies and water resources in marginal zones
Investigator C. Cecilia, Francesc - Spanish National Researh Council, Institucio Milà i Fontanals
Team Member
Markofsky, Steve B. - University College of London, Ancient Merv Project
Investigador Balbo, Andrea - Institución Milà y Fontanals (CSIC), Anthropology and Archaeology
PhD Candidate Devanthéry, Núria - Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), Active Remote Sensing Unit
Director, Crosetto, Michele - Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), Department of Remote Sensing
Researcher Monserrat, Oriol - Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), Department of Remote Sensing
SummaryHeritage landscapes are continuously evolving entities that illustrate the long-term co-evolution of societies and landscapes. These relationships are particularly important in marginal ecotones: transitional and often unstable environments that lie between habitable environments and more adverse regions. Water is central to such relationships, both as a natural resource of varying availability and as an active process in landscape formation. This research examines capabilities of Terrasar X data to assess local geomorphological and hydrological characteristics of two such landscapes, one in an inland ‘oasis’ environment in Turkmenistan, part of the UNESCO world heritage site of Ancient Merv, and one in the monsoonal environment of northwestern India in the periphery of Dholavira archaeological site, currently under review for UNESCO inscription. These case studies offer untested research grounds to apply Terrasar X data to explore the co-development of humans and water resources in marginal environments and influence more sustainable agricultural and economic policy. . Optical remote sensing data has been used in disciplines such as archaeology, soil science and environmental science to investigate hydrology, geomorphology and environmental dynamics, as well as climatic effects of seasonal monsoonal systems and their effects on landscapes and society. However, this research is often regional in scope, due in part to the high costs of high-resolution imagery that could shed light on local dynamics. Also, clouds, dunes and other obstructions can restrict the utility of optical approaches. SAR data can circumvent some of these problems by offering a different type of dataset. Backscattering responses have been shown to respond well to soil texture, directionality (e.g. walls, palaeochannels), and can in certain cases provide limited subsurface data, particularly in arid environments. Moreover, Terrasar X may penetrate up to 25 cm in arid, sandy regions (Linck et al. 2013), a capability that can greatly improve our understanding of dune formation, soil moisture and groundwater. These capabilities are expected to be particularly valuable in the case study areas, in which past and present hydrology and geomorphology are highly dynamic, non-uniform and often obstructed. Four key research objectives have been identified:Identify present and past micro-environments by integrating Terrasar-X data with other imagery and proxy data (e.g. optical imagery, geoarchaeological data).Investigate the capability of Terrasar-X data to detect hydrographic features that may lie beneath shallow aeolian deposits.Evaluate seasonal changes in backscattering responses (pre/post monsoon in India, rainy/dry season in Turkmenistan).Assess points of similarity and departure in exploitation of water resources and land management practices for the study areas.Development of software tools for processing Terrasar X data in heritage contexts. The research comprises one aspect of work within the framework of the P.I’s Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship and falls within the scope of the NoGAP project and Simulpast initiatives of the CaSEs research group. The project will be conducted in collaboration with the Active Remote Sensing Unit of the the Catalan Telecommunications Technology Centre. The collaboration between these institutions represents one of a series of cooperations and partnerships designed to promote interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research in socio-ecology, remote sensing and sustainability. Work on the project will yield the following deliverables: Maps of local hydrological activity (including fluvial systems, active irrigation channels and palaeochannels, aquifers and seasonal wet/dry regions).Comparative maps of alluvial deposits and fluvial signatures as evidenced from Terrasar-X vs. visible and multispectral data.Technical reports on the applicability of Terrasar-X imagery in marginal arid/semi-arid regions.

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