Monday, July 20, 2009

Using remote sensors in South Africa

IRIN: The use of remote sensing and satellite imaging looks set to become more widespread in South Africa as sustainable agriculture and natural resource management become more urgent in the face of climate change.

Remote sensing, a technique that uses recorded or real-time wireless sensing devices to collect information on an object or phenomenon, is proving more successful in South Africa than other African countries for two reasons: South Africa has the required telecommunications network infrastructure to support remote sensing, and its higher internet capacity means that information can be transmitted consistently and timeously.

"For the past decade we have used remote sensing to evaluate and monitor land use, and its impact on the land. We also use remote sensing for mapping land cover and ecosystems, and for monitoring drought outlooks," a specialist researcher for the Limpopo Department of Agriculture, Brilliant Mareme Petja, told IRIN.

During the general election campaign, the ruling African National Congress - which won the April 2009 poll - promised to speed up land redistribution to address the racially skewed ownership system inherited from apartheid.

President Jacob Zuma's government appears committed to their election promise, as suppliers in the remote sensing industry have experienced an increasing demand for their products since the poll.

… Scientists at the Department of Agriculture in Limpopo Province have begun using remote sensing techniques to monitor the impact of climate change, with a view to mitigating and adapting to altered conditions. "Remote sensor data combined with meteorological data from the rainfall stations enables us to demarcate areas that are more likely to be affected by climate change," Petja said….

South Africa's St. Lucia Estuary, view by NASA

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