The team “Urban Areas and Land Management” addresses a large range of thematic applications. The most important thematic focus points are described below:
Due to their central role in economy, politics, society and culture, the impact of urban agglomerations extends far beyond their geographic location. Hence, the sustainable development of human settlements is a key element in the implementation of strategies for sustainable development on a regional, national and global scale. Besides others, the effectiveness and success of corresponding concepts depends on the availability of up-to-date, area-wide and spatially as well as thematically detailed information on the characteristics and development of the urban system.
Currently, most of this information and data is collected by means of statistics, surveys and mapping or digitizing from aerial imagery. However, in consideration of statistical information, these approaches often show a comparably coarse spatial and temporal resolution while surveying and mapping is time consuming and cost-intensive - properties which significantly restrict periodic updates and regional, national or even global analyses. Space- and airborne earth observation (EO) has demonstrated its potential to provide various geo-information independently, with flexible repetition rates and in various spatial scales ranging from the characteristics of single-buildings to global studies of urban footprints.
Contact: Thomas Esch
Cultural landscapes are - in contrast to natural environments - affected by the long-time interaction of human activity. The composition of the landscape and the use of resources, especially in agriculture and forestry, are characterised by processes that last over centuries. Cultural landscapes are also characterized by competing interests, frequently resulting in land use conflicts – e.g., between agriculture, nature conservation or urban development.. The structure of the landscape is constantly changing as a result of urban development and transport infrastructure, primary production, intensive agriculture and forestry as well as recreational use. The preservation of biodiversity and habitat diversity as well as ecosystem functions of landscapes came into the focus of public interest only recently. Our cultural landscapes – e.g. in central Europe – benefit from the balanced coexistence of intensively managed regions and retreat areas. Therefore, a sustainable landscape management is of great importance. Guidelines for sustainable land management have found its way into European policies, such as the Water Framework Directive, soil conservation directives and the NATURA 2000 directive.
Satellite and airborne remote sensing enables capturing spatial information about the current status of land use and land cover as well as its changes. In the framework of various European programs, e.g. COPERNICUS (previously GMES), databases of the land use / land cover on the basis of satellite images have been established.
Contact: Manfred Keil
Global climate change and sustainable energy supply are two of the main challenges for a sustainable development of the built area and cultural landscapes.
The climate in the city differs from that in the surrounding rural area. Therefore, it is important to include mitigation strategies regarding the global climate change into urban planning. The best known phenomenon showing the special urban climate is the urban heat island (UHI), indicating the fact that the temperature in urban areas is higher than in the rural surroundings, especially at night. But also other climate parameters such as surface temperature or wind speed show considerable differences in urban areas. They are strongly influenced by buildings, vegetation or impervious surfaces. Simultaneously, these parameters describe also the quality of life in abstract form, because they influence thermal comfort (too hot, always shady) as well as they represent appealing urban characteristics (green parks are prefered above grey parking lots). Remote sensing techniques are used to support the mapping of the spatial characteristics that influence the urban (micro) climate. For this both optical and thermal remote sensing data are used. The products (e.g. detailed land cover maps, surface temperature) are used as input data for (micro) climate models or to derive climate relevant indicators.
To support a sustainable energy supply spatial data are very useful, especially regarding the evaluation of energy potentials, site selection, avoidance of conflicting uses and the monitoring of consequences and trends. Remote sensing can help to retrieve valuable spatial data at different scales. Examples are area wide mapping of net primary production (biomass) or parcel-based mapping of agricultural crops to map regional biomass or straw potentials. Additionally, remote sensing techniques are suitable for the mapping, visualisation and documentation of developments and trends, e.g. to monitor transformations of the cultural landscape or crop patterns resulting from political decisions or highlight conflicts such as the loss of cultivable land due to continuous land consumption by built-up areas and infrastructure.