Activities  Capacity Building Coastal Zone Information System for Lebanon

GRID-Europe has conducted remote sensing projects on the Lebanon Coastal zone, with local partners. This contributed to UNEP/DEWA's capacity building programme on Environment and Natural Resources Information Networking.

In 1999, GRID-Europe worked on development of a GIS/Remote Sensing project in the eastern Mediterranean region. Partner included the Centre for Environment and Development in the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), an intergovernmental organisation based in Cairo, Egypt and UNEP's Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) Coordinating Unit based in Athens. This work falls under the broad framework of UNEPís efforts to monitor and control land-based sources of marine pollution, as well as DEWA's capacity building programme on Environment and Natural Resources Information Networking (ENRIN).

Following a preparatory mission to Lebanon in July 1999, a project document entitled "Capacity Building in GIS and Remote Sensing: A Coastal Information System for Lebanon" was prepared. The details of the work programme were negotiated with a series of national partner organisations, which include: Lebanonís Council for Development and Reconstruction, the Lebanese Environment and Development Observatory (LEDO) within the Ministry of Environment and the National Centre for Remote Sensing. The projectís immediate objective was to develop a Coastal Information System for Lebanon by integrating coastal zone geographic information and marine water quality data derived from satellite image analysis. More specific problems to which the project aimed to contribute a solution included:

    1. reducing pollution of coastal waters
    2. improved management of public access to beaches and
    3. controlling coastal erosion.

In 2000, GRID-Europe provided remote sensing training to LEDO staff.

In 2002, GRID-Europe conducted, in collaboration with the Lebanese National Center for Remote Sensing, the project Coastal Zone Information System for Lebanon (CZISL) with the aim to map land-derived pollution along the Lebanese coast and to create an information system to assist the coastal zone management. (Click here to download the report in pdf format - 2.09Mb)

Correlating chlorophyll concentration data with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data provides a good way to determine polluted areas. Phytoplankton growth is limited by nutrients (phosphates, nitrates, silicates) which can be found in the natural cold-water upwellings or in the anthropogenic land sources, such as sewage. Whereas high chlorophyll concentration would be related to a low SST in the former case, there would be no such correlation in the latter.

The acquisition and processing of 30 images from SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor) aboard the Orbview-2 platform allowed the monitoring of the chlorophyll concentration evolution in the Eastern Mediterranean between May 2000 and June 2001. SeaWiFS major advantages are its spectral bands specially dedicated to ocean color studies, daily and free data accessible through internet ( and the possibility to process them with SeaDAS (SeaWiFS Data Analysis System), a software specially conceived for this purpose and also freely accessible through internet. This sensor weak point is its 1 km resolution, which is quite low in relation to the present study needs.

This method has proved efficient to obtain chlorophyll and other parameters data, but not to get SST data. These are calculated by an algorithm based on monthly averaged data from the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) sensor. Instantaneous data concordant to the time of chlorophyll data acquisition are essential to correlate these two parameters.

The results show the persistence of certain high chlorophyll concentration areas along the Lebanese coast, particularly in the Beirut and Tripoli regions, during the whole period of time, in spite of seasonal SST variations. Because of their big size, these high phytoplanktonic productive areas appear to be related to coastal upwelling. Nevertheless, some smaller plumes (in the Beirut bay, for example) could be due to anthropogenic land source nutrients (sewage, for example).

A comparison with the Landsat TM reflectance patterns, for the moment limited to the single date of the 21-05-01, reveals that they are complex and difficult to interpret (surface and bottom water effects).

To see the PowerPoint presentation on mapping land-derived pollution along the Lebanese coast (in french), click here.
To see the report in french in pdf format (2.09Mb), click here.