VAE - ESA Value Adding Element


Remote Sensing of Intertidal Flats

Intertidal flats are ecologically and economically of very high importance. Monitoring methods are in place to assess the status of this ecosystem. However, these are limited by the difficulty to access the area and high costs of field campaigns. Therefore, utilisation of remote sensing techniques can provide additional valuable information about this highly dynamic system. Techniques for classification of remote sensing data of intertidal flats have been developed at Brockmann Consult during the past 8 years in national and international projects, namely the EU projects BIOPTIS (1998-2001) and HIMOM (2002-2004), the national projects OFEW (2005-2007) and DeMarine Environment (running since 2008). A standardised method has been developed in these projects dealing with the classification of the intertidal flat surfaces using remote sensing data. The figure below (left side) shows an example of a classification result based on optical data of the German Wadden Sea. The close interaction with the users in all projects enables the development of products and services dedicated to serving the requirements of end users, especially in respect to the reporting duties for TMAP, WFD and Natura 2000.


VAE – Monitoring of Intertidal Flats

The Value Adding Element Programme of the European Space Agency focuses on the needs of the Earth Observation service industry to address new and evolving market opportunities. This programme gives us the opportunity to transfer the method developed in former projects to other test sites, raise its technical robustness to an operational status and enlarge the awareness for the potential of remote sensing for intertidal flats. Users will be involved closely in the product specification as well as in the validation and assessment of the quality of the products and services.


The main subjects of the project are:

  • Study the international market for monitoring of intertidal flats; collect requirements and identify market opportunities
  • Develop the classification beyond the current state in order to adapt it to other regions. This will be tested at the example of the Portuguese Tagus Estuary. This step requires collection of in-situ data for calibration of the algorithms and for validation.
  • Validate the classification maps and assess their quality by the users. This is the most critical step of the project and key to sustainable success.
  • Present the service to additional stakeholders of international intertidal flats.