The 3rd Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) workshop coordinated by SANSA as the Chair of CEOS Working Group on Capacity Development and Data Democracy (WGCapD) took place in Libreville, Gabon, between 20 and 24 February. In October 2016 the WGCapD conducted a SAR training workshop in Lusaka, Zambia and in January 2017 another SAR workshop was held in Pretoria. These two workshops provided training to participants from both East Africa and SADC countries.
The main objective for conducting these workshops is to build SAR capacity in the region. Having noticed that most training and capacity building initiatives in Earth observation were addressing optical remote sensing, a gap that was identified by the Working Group and had to be filled in building capacity in SAR technology as well. Therefore, the three workshops have been WGCapD's most recent initiative to bridge that gap.
Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is an active form of remote sensing that does not rely on the sun to acquire images. It has applications that are cutting across different disciplines from disaster management, weather monitoring and to maritime surveillance to name but a few. The participants in the workshop will be learning about some of the different SAR applications such as for ship detection, oil spills detection, tracking illegal fishing, land cover mapping, agriculture, flood mapping, biomass & forestry. What will be of benefit to the countries of Central Africa experiencing significant cloud cover is that SAR data is seen as more suitable in a range of specific applications, and not restricted by such frequent cloud cover. However, a good understanding of how to process and analyze the SAR images is required, hence the workshops organized.
The Gabon CEOS SAR workshop was made possible by the support from the Gabonese Space Agency (AGEOS), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the European Space Agency (Copernicus programme). These organisations provided trainers, collectively funded the workshop and ensured that the participants' costs were covered fully.
Other organizations that also made a significant contribution to the success of the latest Gabon workshop by providing SAR experts to conduct specific lectures and hands-on training during the workshop are NASA, the German Aerospace Agency (DLR), SAREDU and the University of Marne-la-Vallee in France.