Iceland is exposed to rapid and dynamic landscape changes caused by natural processes and man-made activities, which impact and challenge the socio-economic situation of the country. Fast and reliable mapping and monitoring techniques are needed on a big spatial scale with a high temporal resolution. Such mapping and monitoring will be crucial to both mitigate and understand the scale of processes and their often complex interlinked feedback mechanisms.

Satellite and airborne remote sensing (RS) has undergone a technical revolution providing a massive amount of data with high spatial, spectral and temporal resolution via many different sensors and satellite missions. The wealth of the RS data provides an opportunity for detailed analysis and information extraction. However, currently there is lack of operational advanced information processing techniques, which are needed for end-users to incorporate data from multiple data sources, but the data can be on the scale of terabytes. Hence, the full potential of the recent RS data explosion is not being fully exploited.

The project Environmental Mapping and Monitoring of Iceland by Remote Sensing (EMMIRS) will bring Iceland into the international forefront by bridging this gap between advanced information processing capabilities and the end-user mapping of the Icelandic environment. This is done by a multidisciplinary assessment of two selected remote sensing super sites, Hekla and Öræfajökull, which encompass many of the rapid natural and man-made landscape changes Iceland is exposed to. The integration of contributions from the Signal Processing Lab., the Institute of Earth Sciences, and Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Iceland along with excellent partners and collaborators from international and domestic institutions provides a strong platform to develop and implement state-of the art mapping and monitoring techniques that are fine-tuned to Icelandic geology and terrestrial ecology.

The goals of EMMIRS are to:

  1. Build an open-access benchmark repository of the two remote sensing supersites; Hekla and Öræfajökull. Having a benchmark repository in Iceland is necessary for EMMIRS to test the proficiency of the developed mapping techniques. Furthermore, it ensures that new analysis techniques that are being developed internationally in the coming years will be tested with respect to Icelandic conditions.
  2. Develop and implement methods for automation of geological and ecological mapping tuned to Icelandic nature.
  3. Develop and implement methods for automated change detection allowing monitoring of geological and ecological changes in Iceland.
  4. Investigate the complex landscape dynamics between geological and ecological processes. This is done through cross-correlation of mapping results and implementation of cutting-edge modelling techniques that simulate geological and ecological processes in order to extrapolate the landscape evolution.