Remote Sensing Methods

Remote Sensing of Polar Terrestrial Systems

Experimental Remote Sensing does research on satellite-derived signals and operational remote sensing products and on developing remote sensing applications in innovative ways. Experimental Remote Sensing is also part of the scientific preparation phase of future space missions. We need to work with heterogeneity within the footprint of the sensor-on-satellite and the difficult viewing geometries of the high-latitudes.

Within the programmes of HGF-EDABMWi-EnMAPFP7-PAGE21ESA DUE PermafrostESA GlobPermafrost, BMBF-KoPf we undertake ground assessments of homogenous fields for spatial upscaling. Within REKLIM we evaluate terrestrial surface variables simulated from climate models such as HIRHAM using remote sensing products.

Our aim is understanding the satellite-derived signals and products in relation to vegetation biomass and phenology, and water constituents in lakes.

We will explore the potential of optical and microwave satellite products to map the state of vegetation now and in the past decades that are accessible by satellite acquisitions.

We use

  • in-situ data for evaluation and algorithm development:

    vegetation in-situ:
    on plant coverage, tree stand densities, steam and crown diameters, tree vitality status. see also Arctic Vegetation Analysis
    on Leaf Area Index: LAI-2200 Plant Canopy Analyzer for LAI 

    limnological in-situ:
    chlorophyll, phytoplankton composition, cDOM, DOC. see also Arctic Lake Research

    radiometric in-situ:
    -GER-1500 (GFZ Remote Sensing Laboratory), Spectral Evolution SR 2500 (AWI Periglacial Remote Sensing Laboratory), RAMSES-ACC-VIS (AWI Periglacial Remote Sensing Laboratory).
    -Buchhorn & Petereit (AWI-Workshop) developed a transportable field goniometer: (AWI-Patent DE10-2011117713.A1) for bi-directional spectral measurements (BRDF) in harsh terrain. Experimental Goniometry measurements on sea ice will be carried out by Uni Oldenburg within the frame of MOSAIC.


  • satellite data from operational product Level 2 to 4 (MODIS, MERIS, SENTINEL-3), radiometrical optical: Landsat (in cooperation with Uni Fairbanks, Alaska), RapidEye (in cooperation with TU Berlin), SENTINEL-2; radiometrical SAR: TSX (in cooperation with HGF-EDA, DLR and BGEO) and hyperspectral: AWI-AISA airborne onboard Polar-5, CHRIS-PROBA, EnMAP simulation (in cooperation with GFZ EnMAP).