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Special UNISPACE III volume
Marsteller, Deborah

International Arcliives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Vol. XXXII Part 7C2, UNISPACE HI. Vienna, 1999
“Remote Sensing for the Detection, Monitoring
and Mitigation of Natural Disasters”
2:30-5:30 pm, 22 July 1999, VIC Room B
Vienna, Austria
Prof. Ian Dowman (UCL, United Kingdom)
Dr. Lucien Wald (Ecole des Mines de Pans. France)
The workshop brought together speakers who are experienced in tire use of remotely sensed data for detection, monitoring and mitigation of
natural disasters. They covered most of the hazards and disasters to which our planet is prone. A brief summary of the current status and
future prospects in these areas is given below. The workshop started however with a review by Gudmandsen (Technical University of
Denmark) of the capabilities of remote sensing techniques for monitoring natural disasters. He discussed a wide range of sensors including
those little used at present such as real aperture radar, which is relatively low cost, and passive microwave systems which may be used for
biomass determination and to measuring oil slicks. He evaluates the advantages and limitations of remote sensing and the possibilities of
use for prediction.
Gudmandsen presented a possible scenario to communities living in disaster-prone areas the full benefit of the remote sensing techniques
when needed. This requires considerable advanced activities and a large-scale co-operation between scientists in a number of disciplines and
regional authorities. Existing data and information must be collected and co-ordinated. Planning and prediction is essential and real time
interaction at the time of a disaster is very desirable. In many cases a co-ordination of the efforts by authorities in two or more countries will
be required. Since disasters often involves large financial losses insurance companies may have an interest in participating. This involvement
could lead to a change of the policies of urban and environmental planning. These themes were repeated throughout the workshop.
contribute to the scientific research and to general measures in earthquake management. Most earthquakes occur in well-known areas and
while this is still a difficult task, risk maps and vulnerability maps may be drawn Other techniques such as accurate positioning systems,
involving laser tracking, and VLBI have been used for a long time. Nowadays, dense networks of GPS systems equip areas such as the Los
Angeles basin. Such systems, and the novel technique of differential SAR interferometry', can accurately measure ground deformation,
seismic displacements and plate motion rates.
It can be concluded that space systems can provide general purpose support such as telecommunications and mapping, they may also
provide special support such as ground deformation monitoring but earthquake prediction remains largely beyond our capabilities, despite a
number of on going research efforts. Earth observation can play a role in damage assessment and can play an important part in strategic
activities but is of little tactical use. It is essential that all data is used effectively and there is wide scope of more research in generic
teclmiques such as data integration as well as specific research related to earthquakes. Some new satellite systems will deliver more
appropriate information and others will continue to contribute to the necessary basic research.
Monitoring Oil Spills from Space
Cauneau of Ecole des Mines de Paris discussed the use of space technology to monitor oil spills in tire context of tire constantly increasing
pressure of human activities on tire environment. Oil spilling has been highlighted as one of the most representative pollution mechanisms.
Advanced monitoring techniques have brought evidence that for the most part marine oil pollution is not accidental, but chronic, covering the
whole domain of sliipping activity.
Synthetic Aperture Radar has been the dominant technology used during the last decade, among the results achieved, it has been shown tliat:
anthropogenic oil spills at sea may be easily identified, at least on a statistical basis, since global mapping brings to evidence the correlation
between slicks locations and the main shipping lanes; spilling appears to be less from oil tanker than classic ship transport and that there is a
strong need for advanced tools to discriminate natural and anthropogenic slicks, especially in areas where the natural production of
surfactants is significant.
Béquignon of ESA reviewed tire contribution of space techniques to earthquake hazard management and showed that space technology does