Time, Tides, and Human Activities

This image showing part of Germany's Elbe River estuary illustrates how remote sensing data can be used to monitor changes in topography. Data from scenes recorded by the Synthetic Aperture Radar on board the European Remote Sensing satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2 over the course of five years have been suitably processed and combined at DFD into one image. The red line indicates the water level on August 3, 1992, the white line the situation on March 22, 1995, and the blue line on February 8, 1997, all at comparable tidal situations. This information has been superimposed over a topographic model of the area derived from shipboard measurements in 1992 and with a color bar indicating depth.

Elbe River estuary

The three horizontal lines in the red circle indicate that the 1992 radar data closely correlate to the 1992 ground measurements. The white line indicates the extent of erosion of the Medem Sand sandbank that had taken place by 1995, and the blue line the status in 1997. This changing situation has implications for a wide range of activities in the area, from the protection of economically significant shipping channels to the protection of environmentally sensitive tidal zones.

This image is one of the early results of a German project to investigate the usefulness of satellite radar data to monitor the effects of natural and human activity in a dynamic tidal zone.

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