ARTeMISat-2: Advanced processing of remote sensing data for the monitoring and sustainable management of marine and land resources in vulnerable ecosystems

Spain is the country with the highest biodiversity in the Europe. Protected areas cover 27.21% of its total surface and the coastline length is about 7,880 km, with preserved marine regions exceeding the 8%. These areas are essential for the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of basic services for the society. They are also a source of "green" jobs, because Spanish parks yearly receive over 21 million visitors. However, to achieve their full potential and their efficient management, adequate mechanisms for the monitoring and evaluation are necessary (Europarc, 2014).

In this context, the ARTeMISat-2 project aims to develop novel processing techniques that, applied to high spatial resolution remote sensing imagery captured by multispectral, hyperspectral, radar and lidar sensors, allowing the sustainable management of natural resources and the estimation of parameters related to climate change and human pressure. Mountain (Teide National Park) and littoral (Natural Parks of Maspalomas, La Graciosa and Ses Salines) areas of Canary and Balearic Islands have been selected, because island ecosystems stand out for its richness in endemic species but are most vulnerable because of climate change, tourism and the introduction of exotic species. In addition, we have chosen the Medas Islands, in Catalonia, for its natural wealth and for being considered the best natural reserve in the western Mediterranean (Sanz, 2014).

To achieve the foreseen objectives, advanced techniques will be applied to the remote sensing data recorded by the latest sensors carried onboard different platforms (satellites, aircraft and drones). The ultimate purpose is the generation of knowledge that materializes in the development of methodologies for monitoring vulnerable ecosystems at the maximum spatial resolution. Specifically, advanced techniques will be developed for coastal marine resources in order to obtain validated water quality products, bathymetry and seabed mapping (focused on the classification of algae and seagrass meadows, like posidonia and cymodocea). Similarly, in the field of land resources, products will be generated that enable the detection of endemic and invasive species and the systematic generation of precise mapping to analyze its distribution, density, health and dynamics.

In short, assuming the enormous potential of multiplatform remote sensing systems for environmental conservation, this project addresses the generation of scientific and technological knowledge involving a major breakthrough in solving one of the great challenges facing society and identified in R&D strategies at national and European (H2020, LIFE+, INTERREG, RIS3, etc.) level. The project is based on two main pillars: research of high quality, thanks to the consolidation of a research team with experience and international recognition, and the multidisciplinary approach needed to successfully meet the real challenges, thanks to a team involving engineers, biologists, geographers, oceanographers, chemists, physicists, etc. This model, along with the applicability of remote sensing to any region of the planet, gives the project an enormous potential and a clear international vocation.

Contact person: 
Javier Marcello Ruiz
Funding agency: 
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad - FEDER