Observe landscape changes

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As earth observation is providing new means to monitor and access the status and changes in land and land-use, Sentinel-2 satellite imagery from Copernicus’ missions has been added to Labs.

Observing changes

One of the goals of the Knowledge Hub for Landscape Practices is to provide means to map, assess, protect, and manage the functions, services, and values of cultural landscapes at local scale. We believe that visualization and analysis of land changes in time is playing a crucial role here as well. Sentinel-2 data - a free public dataset from Copernicus' missions - is perfect for observation of land changes through time. This data (satellite multi-spectral imagery of 10-meter resolution) makes it possible to identify different land-uses (e.g. built-up areas, forests, arable land, waters, etc.) and fits well with landscape change observation.

Sentinel-2 imagery has been integrated into the Knowledge Hub using Sentinel-Hub services, provided by Sinergise. The service revolutionizes access to Earth observation satellite imagery, reducing the time required to visualize and exploit the data from hours down to seconds. Sentinel Hub triumphed in the 2016 Copernicus Masters Competition organised by AZO on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). 

Sentinel Hub uses Amazon Web Services cloud and innovative methods to efficiently process and distribute data in a matter of seconds. It can be integrated into any mapping application for web application allowing for any easy-to-use and cost-effective way to exploit the data. It removes the major hassle of downloading, archiving and processing petabytes of data and simply makes the full and global archive easily available immediately via web services. Application developers can focus on added value services and end-user applications rather than having to deal with the complexity of remote sensing data.

A demo application with advanced satellite data analysis tools and means to visualize and measure the changes through time has been added to the HERCULES Labs. It provides an easy-to-use land monitoring service primarily targeted to the study landscapes of HERCULES project, where users will be able to pinpoint and mark the changes they feel mostly affect the (cultural) landscapes.

Predefined set of EO products, together with custom script that allows for advanced data manipulation.

Users can switch between a predefined set of typical earth observation products (e.g. true and false color, natural density vegetation index - NDVI, and similar), or write his own rendering of multiband data from Sentinel-2 imagery, which enables advanced data modelling and manipulation. The custom script provides means for general public to interact with data via dragging and dropping the channels available from Sentinel-2 satellite as well as powerful scripting mode for experienced users.

Custom script mode for both general and expert users. The equation on the right will show water bodies’ probability in blue shades. Equation is adapted from Hollstein et al., Ready-To-use Methods for the Detection of Clouds, Cirrus, Snow, Shadow, Water and Clear Sky Pixels in Sentinel-2 MSI Images”, Remote Sensing, submitted 4/2016.

In the top banner users can find the location of their interest, choose date of the imagery, and set maximal cloud coverage percentage when they are still interested in seeing the data. Upon entering the second date, they can compare the two images by means of changing opacity of the second image with the slider.

With opacity slider user can see the differences between two dates superimposed one on another. The images below the slider show differences in colour infrared product of the same area.

To provide some quantifiable data as well, user can select the icon and then click anywhere on the map to get the graph of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values through time.

Plot of normalized difference vegetation index through time, clearly showing dense vegetation in August and possible harvest sometime in September 2016. Please note that data was obtained from a farmland area.

Users can also mark the locations (both temporally and spatially) they feel influenced (cultural) to landscape changes, thus providing the KH with citizen observatory functionality. The user interface to add marker is simplistic in order to make users more inclined to contribute.

Users can mark discovered changes they feel contribute to (cultural) landscape changes.