GIS and Remote Sensing in Environmental Risk Assessment and Management

GIS and Remote Sensing in Environmental Risk Assessment and Management

X. Mara Chen
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch308
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Environmental risks, ranging from natural to human-induced hazards, present growing threats to communities at different spatial and temporal scales. Effective and timely risk assessment and management has become part of the comprehensive approach to ensuring sustainable functions of modern civilization.

Remote sensing and GIS are geospatial information technologies that allow rapid data and information collection, integration and processing from various sources and formulating possible comprehensive strategies and even solutions to complex environmental problems. In particular, GIS and remote sensing together offer the capabilities of communicating analytical data from bio-physical and socio-economic areas into geographic-referenced images, maps and reports to decision-makers more effectively and timely.

Environmental professionals have increasingly utilized remote sensing and GIS to study human activities and the environment (Chen et al., 2003; Turner, 2003; Brown et al., 2012; Kokaly et al., 2013). Multi-spectral and multi-resolution sensors on different platforms have become our “eyes” in space, providing constant and consistent environmental surveillance. In the mean time, GIS has provided us with the extended processing “brain” power to store, analyze, and display unprecedented vast amount of complex data and information. The technological marriage of remote sensing and GIS created a powerhouse that allows remotely sensed data to be directly fed into GIS for integrated analysis and visualization. Satellite remote sensing provides a systematic and synoptic knowledge base about the earth’s complex geophysical phenomena (Trallie et al., 2005). A GIS integrated approach can be used for the risk management of natural hazards (Chen et al., 2003; Levin & Heimowitz, 2012)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Risk Management: The responding practices to better mitigate hazards or recover from any associated adversary impact. Typically, effective risk management includes pre-disaster mitigation planning by means of insurance, land use regulation, and technology; rapid and effective emergency responses during the emergency; post-disaster recovery and rebuilding management; and increased public awareness education.

GIS: A digital-based data storage, data manipulation and analysis, and visualization system and science, consisting of hardware, software, and organization structure. The modern GIS began in the 1960s, and it has evolved into a maturing science discipline. GIS was an acronym for Geographic Information Systems, but was first used to represent Geographic Information Science in 1992 by Michael F. Goodchild.

Remote Sensing: The technology of obtaining, analyzing, and displaying the information about an object or a phenomenon through remote detection of its reflected and emitted electromagnetic energy. The term “remote sensing” was first used in the United States in the 1950s by Ms. Evelyn Pruitt of the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Human Environment: The complete continuum of matter and conditions that surround human and human society. The state of the earth’s environment dictates the existence, safety and health conditions of human and is affected by the interactions between human and the natural environment.

Risk and Vulnerability: Risk is the possibility for human to suffer the loss and/or injury (physical, social, economic, property) from hazards. Vulnerability is an area’s susceptibility to damage and degradation. Risk and vulnerability: often there are risks there are vulnerabilities, or vice versa.

Risk Assessment: A process to identify hazard types, their intensities/magnitudes, occurring probabilities, and the associated consequences of impact.

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