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Applications of Remote Sensing in Geomorphology

Thu, 16 Jul 2009

Smith, M.J. and Pain, C.F. (2009)
Progress in Physical Geography, 33, 4, 568-582.


Remotely sensed imagery has been used extensively in geomorphology since the availability of early Landsat data, with its value measurable by the extent to which it can meet the investigative requirements of geomorphologists. Geomorphology focuses upon landform description/classification, process characterisation and the association between landforms and processes, whilst remote sensing is able to provide information on the location/distribution of landforms, surface/subsurface composition and surface elevation. The current context for the application of remote sensing in geomorphology is presented with a particular focus upon the impact of new technologies, in particular: (i) the wide availability of digital elevation models and (ii) the introduction of hyperspectral imaging, radiometrics and electromagnetics. Remote sensing is also beginning to offer capacity in terms of close-range (<200 m) techniques for very high resolution imaging.

This paper reviews the primary sources for DEMs from satellite and airborne platforms, as well as briefly reviewing more traditional multi-spectral scanners, and radiometric and electromagnetic systems. Examples of the applications of these techniques are summarised and presented within the context of geomorphometric analysis and spectral modelling. Finally, the wider issues of access to geographic information and data distribution are discussed.

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