How Remote Sensing used in Mine Action

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Remote Sensing is a unique method of analysis in GIS that allows for a multi-temporal analysis of a contaminated or potentially contaminated area to monitor clearance, or identify potential contamination and contaminated areas. In addition remote sensing can be used to update baseline geo-data such as transportation, water ways, land use and urban areas.

Whenever remote sensing analysis is done it is typical that analysis is performed in comparison between two images of different points in time. An “archive” image (image taken over an area from before a conflict) is used for comparison with the main image which will be analyzed (ideally a recent image). This comparison allows between the two images allows for a clearer understanding of changes that have occurred in an area between pre and post conflict, highlighting indicators of contamination and areas where contamination is less likely. For example, if an area shows heavy agricultural use in both the archive and main image, it can be safely assumed this may be an indicator of an area with potentially no contamination. However the reverse can be true as well, an area which was shown to be used for agriculture pre-conflict but shows no agricultural activity having occurred since the conflict may be an indicator of potential contamination in the area.

Another use of the multi-temporal analysis is the monitoring of clearance progress. A series of images over the course of operations can be taken and compared to monitor the speed of clearance and the amount of land being released over the duration of an operation. In addition, post land release, imagery can provide a monitoring of how the land is being once again used by the local community. Imagery can show an increase of urban development, infrastructure and agriculture. Also it can show when released land is still not being used by the community. In cases like these, it can be an indicator of either, residual contamination occurring or a community still insecure about the safety of the area.

Another aspect of remote sensing is multi-spectral analysis. This is the analysis of an image’s various bands. An image will contain a number of “bands” which represent the various wavelengths of light used to capture the image. From near infrared to the basic red, green and blue bands, each one will highlight different aspects of an areas features and can be used to show soil disturbances, recent vegetation clearance and other forms of human activity. In mine action, such analysis could be used to discover potential indicators of contamination which otherwise would be difficult to detect in the field.

For more information visit the following links for additional reading on the topic:

Spatial information Clearinghouse
Remote Sensing based detection of landmine suspect areas and minefields
A validated method to help area reduction in mine action with remote sensing data
Fuzzy Multi-temporal Land-use Analysis and Mine Clearance Application
Model-based approaches for the extraction of minefield indicators
Methods for visualizing the explosive remnants of war