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Summary of Proposal LAN0625

TitleX-POD – Population dynamics in Sub-Saharan Refugee and IDP camps and their environmental footprints
Investigator Lang, Stefan - Paris-Lodron University Salzburg, Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics - Z_GIS
Team Member
Prof. Dr. Hochschild, Volker - University of Tuebingen, Physical Geography and GIS
Dipl.-Geogr. Tiede, Dirk - University of Salzburg, Centre for Geoinformatics
Cand. Dipl-Geogr. Hagenlocher, Michael - University of Tuebingen, Physical Geography and GIS
SummaryTriggered by conflict situations and resulting population and environmental dynamics, humanitarian and environmental monitoring is of great importance for the international community. Accurate and up-to date, EO-based information about conflict related dynamics are key to both research and human intervention in this field. The environmental impact of refugee or IDP (internally displaced persons) camps is a relevant threat to the host countries environments, while greatly varying according to physical setting, and type of camp (refugee or IDP). According to UNEP, deforestation, due to fuel-wood crisis in dry-land camp areas, land degradation and unsustainable groundwater extraction and pollution are observable impacts. The multipolarimetric capabilities of TerraSAR-X provide a promising source for the measurement of relevant environmental factors, as for instance vegetation dynamics, changes in land use/land cover or surface moisture contents. First objective is to evaluatie and test state-of-the-art geospatial, EO-based analysis techniques. The application of object-based image analysis (OBIA) methods on TerraSAR-X data, as well as the development and evaluation of suitable crisis indicators are key-issues in this context. X-POD follows a synergetic approach, combining object-based analysis of TerraSAR-X data (high spatial resolution, fast repetition cycle and full-polarimetric capabilities) with complementary high resolution optical data. By this and align with the high spatial resolution of TerraSAR-X Spotlight (1m) and Stripmap (3m) mode data, the project will develop and scientifically evaluate OBIA approaches for applications in the field of humanitarian and environmental monitoring in Sub-Saharan African crisis areas. This includes research on the transferability of the developed methods for extracting dwellings and infrastructure and relevant information on land use and resources from the reference test site to five complementary transfer sites. A second methodological focus will be set on the multi-temporal and multi-sensoral quantification of population dynamics and their environmental impact, making use of change-detection approaches. A third research line will analyse the effects of utilizing different imaging modes (ScanSAR, StripMap and Spotlight) of the TerraSAR-X sensor at various incidence angles (flat, moderate, steep), to determine the modes with highest potential for environmental applications in the humanitarian context. Apart from these multi-temporal object-based evaluations a multi-sensoral approach will be applied for the comparative analysis of very high spatial resolution (VHSR) optical and SAR data. Image fusion techniques will be adopted to combine high resolution TerraSAR-X data with already available VHSR optical data. The data requirements focus on TerraSAR-X Spotlight- and Stripmap Mode data (dual polarization mode) for several time steps at various incidence angles. In general no seasonal emphasis is necessary, although e.g. failed cropping seasons (from August until November), the outbreak of local conflicts, etc. may cause enormous (temporally limited) migration to the camps. Data will be acquired throughout the whole year in image modes SM, SL and SH with different incidence angles (flat, moderate, steep). The intended product types are .MGD and .GEC. Expected deliverables of the project are: infrastructure maps of the refugee/IDP camps based on the detection of metal roofs, dwellings and other housing materials and environmental impact assessment maps, validated by existing high resolution optical data. A ‘footprint index’ will be developed, based on the derived analysis products, integrating camp evolution with estimated carrying capacity of the environmental surroundings. Research conducted within the project receives funding from EC’s FP6 and FP7 projects and will also rely on institutional funds provided by project partners.

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