On 6 October 2015 the Earth Observation Center (EOC) was privileged to welcome the new DLR executive board chairman, Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund, on her first visit to DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. After introductory speeches by directors Prof. Richard Bamler and Prof. Stefan Dech about the work being undertaken at the two EOC institutes, Dr. Ehrenfreund gained a first impression of some of the EOC activities on a brief tour.
After visiting the spectrometry lab and hearing about reference measurements of atmospheric trace gases from Dr. Manfred Birk, Dr. Ehrenfreund was informed about the responsibilities of the “Center for Satellite based Crisis Information” (ZKI). On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and within the framework of the “International Charter Space and Major Disasters” ZKI provides rapid emergency mapping services to support the efforts of local rapid-response teams in cases of natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies.
In further specialist presentations, Dr. Thomas Fritz and Dipl.-Ing. Achim Roth described how radar data is employed to derive elevation models and generate useful geoinformation to create a foundation for a wide variety of research topics. Then Dr. Elisabeth Schöpfer explained how satellite data is analysed to obtain information on refugee camps, such as the number of buildings and the settlement structure, as well as the environmental effects on the surroundings. Particularly at the present time, when refugees are increasingly fleeing crisis areas, earth observation can provide valuable support for humanitarian aid efforts.
The subject of “global urbanisation” is also becoming increasingly important in this context. By analysing satellite data changes over time can be made visible and the evolution of informal settlements (slums) in megacities can be studied, as Dr. Hannes Taubenböck explained in his presentation.
Dr. Ehrenfreund’s visit ended at the German Satellite Data Archive (D-SDA), where all DLR satellite data are stored and made available long-term.