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Coral reefs


The western side of the Reunion island is characterised by a reef coast spreading over 20 km long. It is a fringe type reef, split up in 5 heterogeneous units. This coast quickly reacts to changes of natural conditions and must therefore be regularly monitored on a cartographic basis.

Activities currently carried out by scientific teams

In order to contribute to the monitoring of Reunion reef formations, a project has been set up, which aims at promoting knowledge about reef coastal areas through mapping and spatial analysis within a GIS. This project is integrated within two actions currently under development:

- The federal action “Mapping of coral reefs in the French overseas administrative departments and territories”, launched on the initiative of IFRECOR (French Initiative for Coral Reefs - Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development), which aims at defining common protocols in the field of reef environment mapping. On the Reunion island, a study carried out by CAREX/ARVAM on behalf of the “Reunion Marine Park” organisation offers a contribution based on orthophotos collected by a land surveyor firm during a campaign done in November 2002. Cartographic results have been delivered from the first half of 2003.

- The multidisciplinary program ETIC3 of the University of Reunion, which is line with the promotion of research about knowledge in Tropical Island Environment for the timeframe 2003-2005.This program is at the interface of environmental disciplines and information and communication technologies. It aims at contributing to the development of an Information System to support the management of tropical natural environment, more particularly on the Reunion island. The study and the follow-up of the island reef formations are one of its research topics.

Relevance of a reference remote sensing database

The contribution of the Kalideos Isle-Réunion database lies in two main points:

- The potential of Spot 5 imagery, which should allow a good description of the different reef compartments -from the post reef depression to the external slope- while preserving an accurate geometry thanks to its spectral and spatial resolution;

- The temporal repetitiveness of snapshots, that will be used with a view to look for indicators of coral coast change, through diachronic study of images completed by airborne photos.

Contact point

The scientific coordination of this activity is ensured jointly by Gwenaëlle PENNOBER, from the Centre de Recherche et d’Études en Géographie (CREGUR) of the University of Reunion, and Jean-Pascal QUOD, from the Agence pour la Recherche et la VAlorisation Marine (ARVAM).