Monday, September 15, 2008

Remote sensing for high mountain ecosystems

The International Symposium on High Mountain Remote Sensing Cartography (HMRSC) was back in Kathmandu after 16 years, coinciding with the 25 years anniversary celebration of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

The 10th International Symposium on High Mountain Remote Sensing Cartography (HMRSC-X) was organised by ICIMOD from 8-11 September 2008 with support from the European Space Agency (ESA) and GIS Development in collaboration with the International Cartography Association (ICA), Austria; Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), Austria; University of Graz (UNI Graz), Austria; and Eurasia Pacific UNINET, Austria.

Mountain geography is composed of diverse physical, cultural, and socio-ecological settings that play together as the single most dominant factor influencing sustainable development. Sustainable development demands special attention in mountain areas because of the remoteness, vastly varying socio-ecological conditions, and distinct spatial and temporal characteristics found in these regions. GIS (geographic information systems) and remote sensing tools and methods provide a useful means to investigate key components of social, economic, and environmental conditions through systematic generation of data indicating their present situation and changing status through space and time.

More than 180 participants from 18 different countries met to discuss five specific themes in six sessions: 1) Remote Sensing Technology, Image Processing and Cartography; 2) Monitoring and Environment; 3) Morphology and Hazard Mapping; 4) Himalaya from Space; and 5) Cryosphere and Water. A poster session highlighted the themes and special sessions were held on the Brahmatwinn Project, Eurasia-Pacific Uninet, and GIS Development.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD, said: “The importance of the earth observation tools and techniques is immense in generating information for better understanding and solving problems related to climate change issues, disaster risk reduction, and environmental management.”

Dr. Manfred Buchroithner of the International Cartography Association (ICA), Austria, and founder of the HMRSC symposia series, elaborated on the bi-annual journey of HMRSC since 1990: “The present day trend in RS techniques to adopt automatic ground features extraction is useful for mountain specific applications and natural resources management.” Other speakers included Dr. M S R Murthy from the National Remote Sensing Centre of India, Basanta Shrestha from ICIMOD, and Dr. Jürg Lichtenegger from the European Space Agency (ESA).

Participants discussed how the fast developing techniques enable more precise monitoring of glaciers and glacial lakes and preparation of mountain hazard and risk maps, and provide instruments for the planning and management of natural resources. The symposium provided a platform for professionals and academicians from the region to share and learn from each others’; experiences and establish networks.

Such formal and informal linkages will go a long way in developing capacities and applications of the tools and technology for the benefit of the region.

Two pre-symposium training programmes on earth observation awareness preceded this symposium for teachers from different higher secondary schools of Nepal, and for university teachers from five different countries of the region.

The Nepal GIS Society, EduSpace of European Space Agency (ESA), Eurasia-Pacific UNINET, and Austrian Academy of Sciences-GIScience from Salzburg, Austria were involved in the training programmes. The symposium was followed by two field excursions to the Khumbu region from 12-19 September, and a day field trip to the Kodari region on 12 September.



Post a Comment