Earth Observation and Modelling

Synergetic use of remote sensing in shallow water (Baltic Seagrass)

To obtain spatially explicit and synoptic information on the extent of seagrass meadows in the Baltic Sea, this project aims to investigate the possibilities of various remote sensing techniques for seagrass monitoring.

In the Baltic Sea, sea grass meadows represent essential habitats in coastal shallow waters; they further have a positive effect on coastal protection due to their wave energy-reducing properties.  Their sensitivity to environmental changes also makes them an important indicator of water quality and the ecological status of coastal waters. Monitoring by diver-based mapping cannot completely record the temporal variability and spatial extent of the sea grass meadows in the Baltic Sea. The implied re-eutrophication of the Baltic Sea reduces the visibility depth and promotes algae growth, which in turn has a negative effect on the ecological status of the sea grass meadows.

The project is closely related to the EU project ECOMAP of the CAU Kiel group ‚Marine Geophysics and Hydroacoustics“.

Using analytical and empirical modelling as well as in situ measurement campaigns in a study area north-east of Kiel, the following questions are to be answered:

  • Can sea grass meadows and their health status be monitored with satellite sensors such as Sentinel-2 MSI?
  • To which water depth can we detect sea grasses?
  • What synergies result from the combined use of satellite remote sensing, hydroacoustic techniques, airborne lidar techniques and drones?
  • Can we use historical aerial photographs to analyse previous extents of sea grass meadows?
  • Coastal sea grass meadows near Heidkate, northeast of Kiel, form the study area.


Funding: KMS Kiel Marine Science - Centre for Interdisciplinary Marine Science at Kiel University

FKZ: KMS1701

Funding period: 5/2018 - 12/2019

Coordinators: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Krastel, Prof. Dr. Natascha Oppelt

Project staff: Katja Dörnhöfer