The team “Coasts and River Basins” identifies and analyses natural, as well as anthropogenic induced processes and impacts, within coastal zones and river basins by means of Earth Observation technologies. Image data at different resolutions from a variety of remote sensing sensors are interpreted by modern machine learning approaches and state of the art image analyses techniques, and converted to value-added geoinformation for environmental monitoring. Derived information leads to new geoscientific findings, and forms the basis for tackling the most fundamental challenges in coastal zones and river basins in the context of global change.
Within river basins, these challenges are usually characterized by interventions in the water cycle as well as changes in its interactions with soils, vegetation, atmosphere, and the anthroposphere. Socio-economic growth, increased energy and food demands and accompanied changes in land use exert increased pressure on available water and land resources. Particularly in transboundary river basins, different access and utilization possibilities may cause regional competition and conflicts of interest. Resource exploitation upstream, for instance, can lead to serious problems on socio-ecological systems in the downstream areas, river deltas and coastal zones. For example, when dams trap sediments and divert fresh water from estuaries or when land-based pollutants from agriculture or urban agglomerations enter river systems and coastal waters. Challenges such as eutrophication, coastal erosion, subsidence, or salt water intrusion may be the consequences, which are exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise. Beside such feedbacks and teleconnections, also internal exploitation pressures on water and land resources are particularly high in the world’s coastal zones. Here, 40% of the global population and 75% of the world’s mega cities can be found. Urbanization, industrialization, and the development of coastal economies, such as aquaculture or tourism, compete for coastal space and resources with the result of significant ecological changes, continuing loss of coastal habitats, and an overall decline in many ecosystem services.
The main objective is it to understand these kinds of natural and anthropogenic processes and their mutual interactions, by developing and testing application-oriented methods and processors in the field of Earth Observation. Furthermore, in the framework of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research projects, derived geoinformation products support the development of innovative and efficient concepts and solutions for the sustainable management of coastal zones and river basins. Key applications of the team are:
1. Socio-economic change in coastal zones and river basins
2. Vulnerability, adaptation and resilience
3. Interactions between land and water
Applications are based on remote sensing data from various sensors (optical/ multispectral, thermal, SAR) and resolutions. The methodological lies on: