Contribution of GIS and remote sensing technologies to an integrated coastal and marine environmental management framework
The coasts and islands that flank the United Arab Emirates (UAE), host an important number of benthic habitats; seagrass beds and coral reefs that should be the focus of conservation actions. Well-designed conservation and management plans require efficient monitoring systems that include mapping the extent and location of the major habitats and also understanding their status and trends over time. The coastal waters of the UAE are optically complex and heterogeneous, thus providing a challenging environment for mapping and monitoring seagrass beds and coral reefs. This is due to the similarity in reflectance characteristics of benthic features such as seagrass, corals and macroalgae. The mapping limitations are mainly faced by broadband multispectral sensors usually advantageous for their affordability. These challenges are taken on by providing more accurate knowledge on the UAE benthic habitats’ spatial distribution and more insights into their temporal variations. Advances in GIS, remote sensing instrumentation, data availability, and processing methods are presented and discussed. Additional tools to better evaluate and monitor the conditions of the UAE’s marine environment are presented. An integrated framework for future investigations that are at the forefront of contemporary marine environment science and management issues is suggested.
Dr. Haifa Ben-RomdhaneVisiting assistant professor
Haïfa Ben-Romdhane is presently a visiting assistant professor to the department of Geography and Planning, and the Environment: Dynamics of Territories and Societies programme at the Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Dr. Ben-Romdhane received her PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering (2016) from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She conducted her master’s studies at the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, Japan, and received her MSc degree in Aquatic Biosciences – Ecology, Behaviour and Observation Systems (2009). Before that, she received her BEng degree in Marine Environmental Engineering (2005) from the National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia. Before joining Sorbonne University, she was a researcher at the Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment (ReCREMA), Khalifa University, Masdar Campus. Before joining Khalifa University, she worked as a project manager, data processing and data quality specialist at the Military Survey Department – Bayanat for Mapping and Surveying Services, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Her expertise falls in the fields of statistical methods and image processing with applications in the general fields of environmental data analysis, land use, land cover, change detection and analysis, time series analysis of environmental and climatic variables, water resources monitoring, etc. Her aspirations are to help protect the ocean and marine environments through the establishment of adaptive management plans, highlighting the role of science to provide a basis for robust decision-making against urgent problems and long-term management outcomes.