Our latest headlines

January 2016 | Don’t miss RSS live on TV – tune in to listen!
ZDF’s special this Sunday (10.01.2016) delves into the current El Niño phenomenon. The report shows how scientists investigate this remarkable weather pattern and elucidate potential links to climate change. It further discusses how RSS supports GIZ’s climate change mitigation program and employs satellite data to assess when, where and why forest is disappearing in Indonesia. Details surrounding exciting new technologies and our capacity to estimate greenhouse gases will also be unveiled. See planet e.‘s website for further information.
October 2015 | Germany's TET satellite detects extensive forest fires in Indonesia
Extensive forest and peat fires are currently raging across Sumatra and Borneo, putting Indonesia on track to be one of the world’s largest carbon emitters this year (Global Emission Fire Database ). The resulting, thick haze blanketing the country and its neighbours (Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand) is also actively deteriorating the health and economic viability of their communities. Efforts to contain these fires have faltered in part due to the season’s remarkably strong El Niño, but also due to a lack in fire monitoring technology.

Current monitoring algorithms depend on (MODIS) satellite imagery unperturbed by clouds or haze. As a result, Indonesia’s recent fires have been massively underrepresented, misleading ground teams and resulting in failed action to abate their blaze. Hope lies in the novel German satellite, TET, whose sensors operate at a higher sensitivity and superior spatial resolutions. Active research has already demonstrated the instrument’s exceptional ability to detect fires through thick haze and smoke, boding well for future fire prevention, management and control.

Image: a swath of a TET data (black and white) is superimposed on a MODIS image (colour), revealing hundreds of peat and forest fires (shown as yellow to red points) missed by the MODIS-based algorithm.

For more details, please refer to the following news items:
  • RSS Press Release (PDF 641 KB)
  • LMU Munich Press Release (German) (PDF 413 KB)
  • DLR Press Portal
  • September 2015 | Meet us at this year's INTERGEO in Stuttgart, Germany
    Meet us at the INTERGEO fair in Stuttgart from September 15th to 17th, 2015.
    Our stand will be in hall 8, #C8.085.

    We look forward to meeting you and presenting our latest earth observation products in the field of forestry, environment, agriculture and 3D visualization.

    August 2015 | RSS completes two ESA-World Bank collaboration projects in Earth Observation
    VæSSA or “VAE for Sri Lanka: a Satellite-based flood Analysis” supports the World Bank and Sri Lankan authorities through satellite based EO products in the context of climate risk mitigation. VaeSSA is carried out by nazka maps and RSS, in support of the World Bank’s “Climate Resilience Improvement Project for Sri Lanka” project. This project aims to reduce the vulnerability of exposed people & assets exposed to climate risk and improve governments' capacity to respond effectively to disasters. VaeSSA uses satellite EO to support flood risk modelling through Historical Flood Maps, Land Use/Land Cover (Change) Maps and Digital Elevation Models.

    RSS' direct involvement included mapping district-wide, wall-to-wall land cover and forest extents at three moments in time (ca. 2000, 2006 and 2011-13), as well as carrying out subsequent change analyses. These analyses provided proxies by which community land use and land cover transformations can be inferred.

    For more information, watch a short video showcasing some of the project results or visit the VaeSSA 'web story' here.
    June 2015 | High Carbon Stock Draft Synthesis Report open for public consultation
    The High Carbon Stock (HCS) Draft Synthesis Report is now open for public consultation. This scientific study provides a definition of high carbon stock forests, enabling oil palms to be grown more sustainably. The HCS Draft Synthesis Report brings together independent research and discussions to date, conducted by 50 scientific experts in the fields of biomass, soil carbon, remote sensing and socio-economics.

    RSS is responsible for the key area remote sensing and parts of soil carbon.

    To learn more, visit the HCS website here
    May 2015 | RSS becomes a partner in Horizon 2020's new project: SWOS
    SWOS (Satellite-based Wetland Observation Service) is a project partially funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. SWOS will produce wetland maps and indicators for more than 25 wetland sites in 19 countries and 3 continents. The project consortium consists of six user organizations, three NGOs, three universities and four Earth Observation companies.

    SWOS' main objectives are as follows:
    • Promote and ensure the consideration of wetlands in key policy areas
    • Develop an operational, standardized monitoring service based on satellite products
    • Incorporate the possibilities made available through new Sentinel satellite technologies
    • Provide a unique entry point to easily locate, access, process and connect wetland information via the service portal
    Visit the SWOS website to find out more.
    April 2015 | RSS becomes a partner in ESA's DUE GlobBiomass project
    GlobBiomass aims to better characterize and reduce uncertainties in AGB estimates. To achieve this goal, GlobBiomass will develop innovative, synergistic mapping approaches for five regional sites within 2005, 2010 and 2015. One global map will also be completed for 2010.

    The project team consists of leading, European Earth Observation experts, and is networked with national authorities in Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and South Africa. Progress will be closely monitored by an advisory board, a user group, and further intergovernmental organizations.

    Visit the GlobBiomass project website here
    April 2015 | RSS participates in the High Carbon Stock Study synthesis meeting, Kuala Lumpur
    A group of palm oil growers, traders, end users and key stakeholders have launched a new carbon stock study as part of the group’s commitment to the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto.
    The study aims to clearly define High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests, and establish HCS thresholds that take environmental concerns as well as the socio-economics and politics of developing or emerging economies into account. The study will take a wide-reaching and practical approach, using robust, scientific methods to examine four key areas: biomass, soil carbon, remote sensing and socio economics. RSS will assume responsibity for all tasks concerning remote sensing and for components of soil carbon.
    Visit the HCS website here
    March 2015 | RSS participates in the International Workshop on Forest Carbon Emissions
    This March, Jakarta hosted a workshop to gather information on Research and Systematic Observation (RSO) (with respect to deforestation and degradation), identify gaps in RSO methodologies, design programs for capacity building, build financial schemes, and develop a paper to be presented in Paris this December.
    A diversity of presentations were given by international and national forest peat carbon experts as well as practitioners. All participants came from research institutions, universities, NGOs, policy maker offices, local governments and industries.

    Visit the Forest Carbon Emissions website for more information.
    November 2014 | RSS supports the integrated fire management in protected areas of the Brazilian Cerrado
    The Cerrado, a very species-rich savannah region in Brazil, is regularly affected by uncontrolled late dry season large-scale fires that promote deforestation, cause intensive greenhouse gas emissions and are a major threat to biodiversity.
    The Brazilian-German Cooperation Project “Prevention, control and monitoring of bushfires in the Cerrado” aims at improving integrated fire management (MIF) in the Cerrado and implements controlled early burning in protected areas, to reduce the occurrence of large-scale late season fire by fragmentation of areas of different fuel load levels and thereby reducing fire severity.
    The planning and implementation of controlled early burning activities is supported by RSS with geo-information on fuel load conditions derived from remote sensing data over large areas. In November 2014, a workshop was held by Brazilian authorities in Palmas (Brazil) to evaluate the first year of MIF implementation.