2004-2006, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Turkey,

[b]Monitoring and modelling Desertification[/b]
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Combating desertification is essential to ensuring the long-term productivity of inhabited drylands. Unfortunately, past efforts have too often failed, and around the world the problem of land degradation continues to worsen. Recognizing the need for a fresh approach, 179 governments have joined as of March 2002 the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. This Convention aims to promote effective action through innovative local programmes and supportive international partnerships. The treaty acknowledges that the struggle to protect drylands will be a long one. This is because the causes of desertification are many and complex, ranging from international trade patterns to unsustainable land management practices. Real and difficult changes will have to be made, both at the international and the local levels. Countries affected by desertification are implementing the Convention by developing and carrying out national, sub-regional, and regional action programmes.

As part of the ESA-DUE programme the DesertWatch information system will be developed with the aim to contribute to:

  • The creation of standard and comparable geo-information products from country to country about the status and trends in desertification;

  • The creation of a common framework for reporting to the UNCCD for Annex IV countries;

  • The creation of a common basic infrastructure as a base for further developments where Earth Observation (EO) plays a key role;

  • The development of a common methodological approach for all countries in Annex IV to assess and monitor the desertification problems and identify trends and potential scenarios.

From a methodological point of view the project shall exploit the most consolidated scientific results derived from the several research and application projects funded by the EC, ESA and the R&D national programmes in the last years (e.g., TESEO-Desertification, DISMED, LADAMER, MedAction, MODULUS, DESERTLINKS, MEDALUS, DEMON, RIADE, MEDRAP, etc…). In this context, the project aims at bridging the gap between the extensive research work carried out in the last decade and the operational needs of the user community.

[b]RIKS' role in DesertWatch[/b]
In the DesertWatch consortium, RIKS will partake in modelling the cause and effect relations between socio-economic pressures, land use, land cover and desertification. To that effect, descriptive static models, indicators along with dynamic land use change models will be developed and incorporated in the DesertWatch system to be available for generic usage in affected countries. As part of the project, they will be implemented with participating end-user organisations in a number of selected case regions.

RIKS will:

  • assess different models with regards to their capabilities for exploring future land use scenarios and their aptness for incorporation in the DesertWatch system;

  • develop the SCENDES (Scenarios for Desertification) model and the associated end-user oriented analytical tools for exploring ongoing and expected trends causing desertification in the Northern Mediterranean, as well as assessing the effectiveness of management and policy measures aimed at mitigating or reversing it. SCENDES will be based on RIKS’ METRONAMICA land use modelling system. It will be a spatially-dynamic land use model projecting future land use on a yearly basis and for geographical, cellular, entities measuring less than 1km2. It will enable exploring the impacts of endogenous autonomous developments, intended policy interventions and external factors (climate change, socio-economic growth, …) on a region, its land use and its degradation status;

  • equip SCENDES with dynamic and spatial indicators enabling the evaluation of successful desertification mitigation measures in terms of their detailed temporal and spatial dimensions;

  • with a view to interactively design, amend and explore strategies and measures to combat desertification, and, to assess their appropriateness and effectiveness in an integrated, spatial and dynamic context, provide two tools tailored to the needs of SCENDES. The OVERLAY-TOOL is an instrument geared at the creation of input maps used at the cellular level of the model. It takes (factor) maps from a GIS as an input and combines them into a single composite map by weighing the relative importance of the information presented on the maps. The MAP COMPARISON KIT is an instrument enabling the pair-wise comparison of the many maps, containing categorical data or data on ratio or ordinal scales that are generated during runs with SCENDES;

  • incorporate SCENDES, the OVERLAY-TOOL and the MAP COMPARISON KIT in the DesertWatch system and apply it to a selected number of cases in close collaboration with its intended end-users;

  • provide sufficient documentation, training material and procedures for on-site support to enable the application of the tool in other regions than those represented in the project.

More information about applications developed with the METRONAMICA framework can be found on the page of the Environment Explorer and MOLAND. Information on the (semi-automatic) calibration carried out for the former can be found on the LOV Calibration page.

Previous and ongoing work carried out by RIKS in the context of desertification can be found on the MedAction, MODULUS and LADAMER project pages. Soon we will start our work in DeSurvey and inform you about this on a dedicated DeSurvey page.
For this project RIKS applies its METRONAMICA modelling framework.