Operational Systems

A satellite view of the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions. -image: HZG-

Remote Sensing

Satellites provide a large-scale view of coastal regions across the globe.
The Department of Remote Sensing analyses satellite data using methods developed in-house. The colour of the ocean is used to determine the seawater’s optical and biogeochemical properties.

Highly precise and complex measurements of optical seawater properties are performed in parallel, in both the laboratory and on-site. Such properties, for example, include light beam paths in various types of water.
This information, which is directly measured, is integrated into optical models and measurement methods to improve these tools.

By comparing directly obtained data with satellite data, the desired quantities can then be determined from the satellite data itself. This includes scattering and absorption of sunlight in water, the transparency of the water or determining the concentration of phytoplankton, yellow substance and suspended matter in the water. Each alteration of these quantities can be seen in the changes of the ocean’s colour.

These analysis methods are especially utilised by the European Space Agency (ESA). They allow scientists to obtain important environmental information about the coastal regions. The data supplies information, for example, on the occurrence of algal blooms, which could become more or less frequent due to climate change.

Satellite data covering several decades is now available and can be evaluated in regard to natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change. Future satellite missions will continue to supplement this data.