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Radar und optical remote sensing for analysis of geohazards

Our research is concerned with the utilization of radar and optical remote sensing data for understanding of processes related to natural and anthropogenic geohazards and the impact that they have on the human habitat. Hereby, we focus on earthquakes, landslides, glacier dynamics, permafrost and deformation fields related to anthropogenic activities. Methodological focus is on the development of automated methods for monitoring and assessment of changes related to these processes by integration of large quantities of multi-sensor remote sensing data, including both optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery.  Currently, our activities are focused on study areas in Germany, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Arctic.

In the field of radar remote sensing our research interest is to obtain high-resolution and high precision measurements of ground deformation associated with various processes caused by geohazards using differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar (DInSAR) techniques. The obtained results form the basis for subsequent interpretation and constraining of the underlying geoprocesses. In the field of optical remote sensing we deal with the development of automated methods for change detection based on multi-sensor time series data and the subsequent derivation of process information. Another research focus is the synergetic use of optical and radar data. 

In the field of remote sensing based analysis of geohazards we focus on the following processes:

One of the major objectives of our research is to obtain deformation fields associated with earthquake-cycle processes.

Gravitational mass movements frequently occur in combination with other natural hazards, such as earthquakes and floods leading to severe losses of life and infrastructure worldwide.

Since long-term changes in temperature and precipitation have direct effects on a glacier's mass balance, the variations in the kinematics of glaciers can be seen as a climate change indicator giving clues about the potential development.

Remote sensing measurements with their large spatial coverage and high spatial resolution are able to monitor precisely seasonal and long-term changes due to thawing/freezing of the active layer in permafrost.

Surface deformations in urban and agricultural areas require special consideration, because they immediately affect the infrastructure and security of human beings.

Artificial water reservoirs are regularly subject to large water level variations. The resulting significant load changes result in elastic deformation of the surrounding area in the form of uplift when discharging a large amount of water and in the form of subsidence when replenishing a large amount of water again.

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