Satellite imagery in water management and land use

  1. Laura Piedelobo Martín
Supervised by:
  1. Diego González Aguilera Director
  2. Andrea Taramelli Director
  3. José Luis Molina González Director

Defence university: Universidad de Salamanca

Year of defence: 2020

  1. Ángel Luis Muñoz Nieto Chair
  2. Salvatore Barba Secretary
  3. Damián Ortega Terol Committee member

Type: Thesis


Earth’s ecosystems are constantly changing due to the existing nature and atmospheric conditions and the pressure of human activities. Monitoring the environment and its condition helps to mitigate the feedback loop that exists between climate change impacts, ecosystem degradation and increased disaster risk. The interpretation of remotely-sensed biophysical parameters can substitute or complement classical vegetation monitoring methods. In order to substantiate the potential of remote sensing in environmental management, this Doctoral Thesis has been developed in response to the following research questions: “Which biophysical parameters are available as full, open and free?” and “How can biophysical parameters interpretation and local stakeholder needs be bridged?”. The Thesis has been presented as a “Compendium of scientific papers”, peer-reviewed and published in JCR journals of high impact factor, and with “International Mention”. As main result, this Thesis proves the potential of the interpretation of remotely-sensed biophysical parameters to monitor the Earth's environment, its condition, and thereby benefits to society. Specifically, the Thesis proves the potential of Copernicus products to help in accomplishing EU's policies and environmental challenges. The thesis focused in enhancing the monitoring of agricultural water use and crop types and in the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services. Firstly, the development of this Thesis led to find out that biophysical parameters are available at a global scale in the Copernicus programme, as full, open and free products, already processed and qualified. Given the fact of the products' low spatial resolution, this Thesis proposes the development of scalable demand-driven tools, based on open high-resolution satellite data, to bridge biophysical parameters interpretation and local stakeholder needs. The tools developed contribute to the evolution of Copernicus downstream sector in Europe tailored to users' needs, specifically in the accomplishment of EU's policies. HidroMap software helps the Duero Hydrographic Confederation with monitoring agricultural water use and crop types to accomplish the Common Agricultural Policy and the Water Framework Directive. The number of agricultural crops irrigating without water rights has decreased by 81% since the development of the tool in 2017 and crops are classified with an overall accuracy of 92%. The Green Infrastructure (GI) model approach helps the Member States with the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services to accomplish Action 5 of the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. It enables to detect, to monitor the capability of providing regulating ecosystem services, and to assess the condition of GI in riparian areas of a river network. It has been applied in the delta area of Po river basin, allowing the prioritisation of GI's need of restoration.