Satellite shows impact of human footprint on landscape

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 11/12/2004 - 17:58.

Future Forum presenter David Beach spoke of the impact of the "human footprint" on our landscape, and a project in Europe uses satellite data to show how mankind is trampling the environment there. Results of these findings will raise consiousness and lower impacts of development like flooding. Read a few highlights here, link to story at PhysOrg for more info.

A new tool based on satellite data shows trends in the way Europeans use
our landscape. Seen from the ground these changes appear gradual, but viewed
from above they are often dramatic. Each day new roads or buildings bury the
equivalent of 240 football fields of German soil, around 120 hectares of land.
This is just one example of the information available from a new virtual atlas
of Europe’s landscape based on satellite data.

we are able to see from satellite data is that the increase in soil that is
sealed off by human infrastructure activities is even greater than we
anticipated", says Chris Steenmans, Project Manager for Land and Remote
Sensing at the EEA. "Fragmentation of land is a time bomb. Each year only
a small fraction of the landscape will change its function. This is not enough
for you to really feel the change as dramatic. But if you use satellite data
over a span of ten years you can really see a difference".

The project is contributing to shaping Europe’s Global Monitoring for
Environment and Security (GMES) initiative, which will provide environmental
information from a combination of ground-, air- and space-based observation
systems. Both EEA and ESA are partners in GMES.


Go to to read the entire article