Our latest headlines

August 2013 | Iceland 3D
In the framework of the IsViews project (Application of innovative methods using high-resolution remote sensing data for an early detection of subglacial volcanic eruptions in Iceland), RSS GmbH visualized Iceland in 3D using high-resolution data. The interactive 3D visualization was created based on RapidEye satellite imagery with 5 meters ground resolution and a Digital Elevation Model with 10 meters resolution. A multitemporal set of about 270 RapidEye image tiles were used to create an almost cloud-free and seamless image mosaic of Iceland. Part of the Vatnajökull glacier is shown in a higher resolution of 0.3 meters and was created from HRSC aerial imagery.
Watch the video to see some highlights of Iceland 3D.
IsViews is partly funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Transportation and Technology.
August 2013 | Recent fires in Sumatra
RSS maps affected areas of recent fires in Sumatra with high-spatial resolution data
Once the main smoke of the recent forest fires in Sumatra disappeared, which caused massive air pollution in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, the actual extent of the damage becomes apparent using high-resolution satellite imagery. While low resolution satellite data (such as MODIS hotspots) are valuable to identify hotspots and clusters of fires over large areas, these lack the spatial detail to precisely map the extent of the burned areas. Reliable quantifications of fire affected areas, assessments of the burned land cover and estimations of carbon emissions caused by these fires require spatially detailed and up-to-date geo-information.
RSS is therefore currently mapping the burned area in the Riau province with RapidEye data with 5m spatial resolution. RapidEye data was acquired during and after the fires in June and July 2013. The high spatial resolution makes a very precise assessment of the burned area possible and even small remaining forest patches within the burned area are visible. By the use of additional pre-fire land cover information, also retrieved from satellite imagery, accurate estimates of the fire-related carbon emissions will be established by RSS. The final geo-information can also help to better understand the very complex causes of the fires through supporting local authorities and experts.

May 2013 | Capacity building workshop in Kalimantan, Indonesia
RSS and WWF Indonesia conducted a capacity building workshop for the planning of hydrological restoration measures for the rewetting of drained peatlands in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia from April 18 – April 19 2013.
Participants of the training were staff of the Sebangau National Park and the WWF Field office in Palangkaraya, as well as the Forest Administration of the Province of Central Kalimantan.
RSS provided technical training for the 25 participants, who are all employed in GIS positions in their institutions. The training agenda included topographic analysis of digital terrain models (DTM), analysis of the drainage infrastructure of the study area in Sebangau National Park and the planning of dam locations along drainage canals which are to be built in order to efficiently reduce drainage of the peat swamp.
The lowering of water tables by drainage canals causes significant Greenhouse Gas emissions from peatlands. These effects can be considerably reduced by the blocking of the canals with dams and the resulting rise in water levels in the swamps.
The training workshop was very well received by the participants and RSS was able to contribute significantly to the improvement of the local GIS capacity.
March 2013 | MALAREO MapAtlas published
RSS – Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH just successfully completed the FP7 MALAREO project by publishing the MALAREO MapAtlas. The Atlas summarizes the Earth Observation (EO) products generated for supporting the National Malaria Control Programmes in Southern Africa and contains high-resolution thematic maps such as land cover/use map, water bodies and wetlands maps, habitat foci and potential vector breeding site maps, malaria incidence predictions as well as population density maps for the project area in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. The Map Atlas and all geo-data as well as training material can be downloaded via the MALAREO project website.
In January, a final meeting with end-users from the Southern African National Malaria Control Programmes and the MALAREO project team took place in Durban, South Africa, where all EO products were presented. The end-users emphasized the benefit of these EO products and the Map Atlas for malaria control, since it greatly improves planning of malaria control measures and will complement the approach of linking environmental and epidemiological data, which is a first step towards an early warning system for malaria.
March 2013 | Final REDD-FLAME workshop in Bogor, Indonesia
Dr. Jonas Franke of RSS GmbH is one of the key speakers in the international workshop, the first leg of a series of international workshops on the environment. Eric van Valkengoed, the chief executive of the workshop in Indonesia, said that the workshop on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation — Fast Logging Assessment and Monitoring Environment (REDD-FLAME) would be taking place at the International Convention Center of the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB-ICC), on Jan. 31.The project, he said, was part of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development for collaborative research on space science (FP7-SPACE) funded by the European Commission. The workshops would also be held in Mozambique in February and then in Brazil in March.“The REDD-FLAME project has designed and demonstrated a system capable of monitoring tropical and subtropical forests using high-resolution, cloud-penetrating radar data and optical imagery acquired by satellites. By focusing on the early detection of logging activities, the system provides the means to quickly identify the first signs of deforestation,” said van Valkengoed of the Netherlands-based TerraSphere Imaging & GIS B.V. According to him, the system has been developed in collaboration with authorities in countries on three continents in an effort to build lasting partnerships and share expertise.Test sites, including the one in Mawas, Central Kalimantan, have been chosen to represent a variety of forest types and deforestation issues, and thus prove the system’s versatility.“As the two-year project draws to a close, this one-day workshop will serve to showcase the main results of the EC-funded FP7-SPACE project, REDD-FLAME, and make recommendations for its operational implementation,” van Valkengoed said, adding that the presentation would demonstrate how the system could be integrated into a national forest monitoring system as well as into future REDD projects in Indonesia.The key speakers in the workshop will include forest inventory expert Dirk H. Hoekman of Wageningen University, BS Barkah from Balikpapan Orangutan Survival Foundation, R. Verhoeven of software developer Savision BV and J. Franke of environmental monitoring provider RSS GmbH.

You will find this article here: Nurni Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, Balikpapan | January 29 2013 | Page: 9 or online
July 2012| Monitoring Fire and Selective Logging Activities in Tropical Peat Swamp Forests
Climate change mitigation schemes, such as REDD and biodiversity conservation in tropical rainforests, necessitate remote sensing based forest monitoring capabilities with high spatial resolution and temporal coverage. Regular monitoring has to be capable of detecting rapid changes in forest extent, i.e. deforestation, and subtle changes to the forest cover caused by logging and/or fire, described as forest degradation. Particularly the early detection of illegal logging activities is important for the conservation of tropical forests. In the present study, a forest disturbance monitoring approach was developed and tested, which makes use of high resolution satellite imagery.Atime series consisting of three images, acquired between May 2009 and June 2010, was analyzed covering a remote area of tropical peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. The forest area was assessed by an object-oriented classification. Logging activities and the impact of fire were detected by a pixel-based spectral mixture analysis. Forest, non-forest and logging trails could be differentiated with an overall classification accuracy of 91.5% (Kappa of 0.87). A high forest disturbance rate of 8.7% was found in the study area. Low impact logging could be detected reliably and the progress was tracked over time. The results show that the timely detection of forest disturbances is necessary because of the fast regrowth of vegetation. The study emphasises the importance of high resolution satellite imagery for tropical forest monitoring and for timely updating forest status assessments, which is important for the implementation of REDD.
Get access to complete paper as pdf.
March 2012 | Assessment of grassland use intensity by remote sensing to support conservation schemes
Grassland is a land cover in the area of conflict between agriculture and conservation, where intensification of land use is a major threat to grassland biodiversity. Grassland use intensity is a key factor for the conservation value of grassland, and detailed spatial data on grassland use intensity is needed to improve strategies for biodiversity conservation. A new remote sensing-based approach using multi-temporal high resolution RapidEye satellite data was developed in the present study that makes a large-scale assessment of grassland use intensity possible. RapidEye is a constellation of five satellites with 6.5 m spatial resolution, which allows frequent and timely image acquisition targeted at specific growing seasons. Semi-natural grassland, extensively used grassland, intensively used grassland and tilled grassland could be reliably differentiated at the management plot level in a study area in southern Germany. Various combinations of images from different observation dates have been tested as classification input and their overall classification accuracies were validated by field data. Best results were achieved using a combination of five multi-temporal scenes with an overall accuracy of 85.7%. A three-scene combination resulted in an overall accuracy of 82.2%. The analysis showed that seasonal aspects are very important when selecting adequate observation dates. Grassland use intensity was also assessed on peatlands using a peat soil map, since land use intensity significantly affects greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands. The results demonstrate the potential of targeted multi-spectral, high spatial resolution remote sensing for the large-scale monitoring of dynamic habitats, which is of vital importance to support various environmental conservation schemes through improved monitoring and reporting capabilities.
Get access to complete paper as pdf here
March 2012 | African Malaria Control Project
RapidEye, the leader in high-resolution, wide area repetitive coverage of earth through its constellation of satellites announced that its imagery is being used by the MALAREO project to assist with malaria control programs in countries in southern Africa. RSS - Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH, partner in the project consortium, is responsible for data processing and the development of Earth Observation (EO) products.
Read the press release for more information.
February 2012 | Above ground biomass estimation across forest types at different degradation levels in Central Kalimantan using LiDAR data
Highlights of this paper
► Field measured above ground biomass (AGB) estimates of Central Kalimantan's forest ranges from 15 to 547 Mg ha−1 depending on forest type and degradation level.
► The angle count sampling method was tested to be adequate for fast sampling in tropical forest.
► AGB-predicting regression models for peat swamp forest and lowland dipterocarp forest could be developed by linking field inventory and LiDAR data within 1-ha-plots.
► Models explain 83% of the variation in lowland dipterocarp forest plots (RMSE = 21.37%), 32% in peat swamp forest plots (RMSE = 41.02%) and 71% taking both types together (RMSE = 33.85%).
► Quantifying above ground biomass of whole LiDAR tracks showed the ability of our approach to extract spatial biomass variability from LiDAR data. The detection of forest degradation, i.e. logging could be improved compared to the analysis of Landsat imagery.

Get access to complete paper as pdf here.
November 2012 | RSS supports Krombacher climate care - project
The project, which the WWF Germany runs with the Krombacher Brewery has set itself the goal to renature 176,000 acres of Sebangau National Park in Borneo, one of the largest remaining peat swamp forests around the world. Thus, a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions can be saved.The RSS GmbH was commissioned by WWF Germany to support the renaturation and afforestation in Indonesia's peat forests using satellite information and lidar measurements.The area of ​​the Sebangau has been damaged by intensive loggingin the past: The swamp area is crossed by a network of small canals that were dug by loggers to transport the logs to the peat. This leads to a severe drying of the peat. By the microbiological decay of peat, considerable amounts of greenhouse gases are released. In addition, by clearcutting and fire large areas of natural forest have been destroyed, which is an important habitat for many endangered species like the orangutan and in which also huge amounts of carbon are stored.The tasks of RSS GmbH include the planning of dam construction and the evaluation of potential reforestation areas through advanced remote sensing techniques to ensure optimum rewetting and restoration of the peatland in Sebangau.Highly accurate terrain models using LiDAR data (Light Detection And Ranging) are created, which are recorded as part of an aerial survey of the area. This elevation data with accuracy in the centimeter range can be used to accurately determine the optimum location of dams. In addition the latest satellite data of the RapidEye satellites are used to identify areas suitable for afforestation. As part of a field campaign, reference data is collected, as well as local project managers are trained in the mapping with GPS and how to make use of the results.
Further links: