Urbanization and global warming present enormous risks for our cities. Green space is increasingly being converted to densely built-up environments that are vulnerable to heat and water stress. At the same time extreme meteorological events are becoming more common and intense. Sustainable development and scientifically supported management of urban areas are crucial to protect our quality of life in the city. Most policy support tools and environmental models are however not adapted to the spatial complexity of urban landscapes. Using environmental data provided by remote sensing can help us in overcoming this knowledge gap.

In UrbanEARS we explore the potential of state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies for detailed, spatially explicit characterization of the urban environment. Investigated data sources include imaging spectroscopy, multispectral remote sensing and laser altimetry. Acquired information on the characteristics of green and built-up areas is subsequently used to improve the parametrization of urban biophysical models. As such, we strive at improving the operational value of urban ecosystem services related to temperature and water regulation.




The urbanEARS project consists of five thematic parts, with clear linkages existing between each of them:

Within the URBAN MAPPING and URBAN GREEN parts, we aim to map and characterize the urban environment based on recent remote sensing technologies. Our focus is on the integration of multi- and hyperspectral imagery with airborne LiDAR and on the development of generic workflows which can easily be transfered to other sensors and locations. The produced land cover and urban green maps are subsequently used in the URBAN HEAT AND WATER REGULATION parts for the enhanced parameterization of urban biophysical models. These models in turn result in ecosystem service indicator maps related to temperature and runoff reduction. Using a variety of GIS and socio-economic data in combination with an agent-based modelling approach, different realistic urban growth scenarios are produced in the URBAN PLANNING part. These different scenarios are evaluated with regard to their impact on the urban climate and water cycle using the aforementioned models. Based on this research, valuable guidelines related to sustainable urban development will be formulated for urban planners and managers.

Click on the individual themes below for more detailed information.


Urban mapping

Deriving discrete and quantitative thematic information from remote sensing data

Urban Green

Mapping urban green type and properties with remote sensing data

Urban Heat regulation

Modelling climatologic ecosystem service indicators

Urban water regulation

Modelling hydrologic ecosystem service indicators

Urban planning

Assessing the impact of alternative urban growth and planning scenarios

This project is funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy (Belspo) within the RESEARCH PROGRAMME FOR EARTH OBSERVATION - “STEREO III”.

© 2015 UrbanEARS

UrbanEARS @ the field

Measurment of grass reflectance spectra in the context of urban water regulation.

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