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Using the ‘magic’ of satellite images as support for education: Understanding climate change effects on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (“SIDSAT”)

Onderzoeksproject SR/02/166 (Onderzoeksactie SR)


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Context and objectives

The project deals with the topic of space science and technology to support awareness raising and education with respect to natural and human-induced threats, including the effects of climate change. The project wants to show and to convince researchers and decision-makers of the usefulness of remote sensing in the discussion about environmental and climate change. Images from space can also provide compelling educational information about large processes which are taking place. Satellite images compared through time provide an effective tool to assess natural or human induced processes. The scale of SIDS is ideal for this kind of analysis. They are also the regions of the world experiencing some of the earliest and severest impacts of climate change. It also provides an accurate scientific assessment with a relatively low degree of investment which can provide guidance to decision makers in identifying and addressing SIDS priorities. During the whole process, national and regional networks with local universities were established. A database in the form of a web-based platform storing multi-scale satellite images was developed. All satellite images were georeferenced and the different satellite image mosaics that constitute the whole cover for each island are used at the web-based platform to store, visualize and retrieve simple information.

Methodology

The satellite data consists of images of Pléiades, SPOT, ASTER and Landsat. These images are processed: georeferenced, orthorectified, pansharpened and mosaicked. The remotely sensed data is being used in order to elaborate, for each selected SIDS: a satellite mosaic covering the whole island; 3D models of the whole island; some capital cities are illustrated with high-resolution imagery. For each selected island there are showcases illustrating the use of remote sensing in topics like climate change, sea level rise, coral bleaching, uncontrolled urban and tourism development, severe deforestation and selected natural hazards.

Results

The output is threefold: a series of cases illustrating how satellites can be used to assess threats in SIDS; some educational material and a web-based platform.
The series of cases show how earth observation from space can assist in understanding, monitoring and managing issues related with climate change. For example measuring effects before and after natural disasters; assessing how (urban and touristic) settlements are evolving. All these examples constitute the educational and awareness package, in the form of online posters and a book. The cases and images are collected in a web-based database that is available to consult at the online platform.
Another output is a collaboration between the universities and governments of the selected SIDS as a result of the workshop organized by UNESCO and Ghent University in December in Kingston, Jamaica.


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