The role of geographical information systems in remote sensing

16.4.2014 Simon Bradley


A number of GIS applications have been developed to process data for remote sensing. In some aspects , GIS remote sensing software is similar to software used for graphics, the difference being its use for generating geographical information out of data received from airbased sensors and satellites.



GIS remote sensing applications are able to read formats containing sensor data of images, metadata of sensors, geo-referencing data. There are a number of file formats for the software to conduct these research, which include NITF, GeoTIFF, JPEG 2000, MrSID, NetCDF and HDF.



GIS remote sensing applications perform many tasks, one of the important ones being cited as – detection of changes. This enables us to understand the changes that have taken place over periods of time, in a given region.



Another important function is called orthorectification, which pertains to warping an image to match corresponding ground coordinates. Spectral analysis refers to GIS application making use of invisible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, to understand whether a forest area is healthy, and find out whether there are any forest fires raging.



Classifying images by pixels categorization, using the reflectance into various land cover classes is achieved through GIS software. This enables one to distinguish from supervised classification, unsupervised and un-supervised classifications, apart from classification through object orientations.



Despite the special tasked performed by GIS applications in remote sensing software, it should be understood that these applications are constructed through using usual remote sensing tool kits like OSSIM and GDL. This is also useful in aerial photography.


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