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Sahara's edge studied from ground, air and space to improve water management

rt the sustainable management of ground water. Planned products include land-use and land-cover maps, change maps, surface water extent and dynamics, digital terrain models and estimates of water consumption and extraction. These required products were identified by the involved water agencies, in Tunisia specifically the Direction Gnrale des Ressources en Eau (DGRE) under the Ministre de l'Agriculture.

Aquifer takes place within the framework of the TIGER Initiative, aimed at applying Earth Observation technology to improve availability and management of water resources, with a particular focus on Africa.

From November 7, a week-long campaign in southern Tunisia known as the AquiferEx Airborne, Optical and Radar Campaign was overseen by ESA's dedicated Campaign Unit. AquiferEx involved gathering a baseline dataset to support Aquifer product definition for two test areas of southern Tunisia, the Ben Gardane and Gabs regions. Each about 10 000 hectares in size, these test areas are representative for agricultural crops, natural pastures and irrigation practices.

Both sites are located above the vast North-Western Sahara Aquifer System (better known in French as the Systeme d'Aquiferes du Sahara Septentrional or SASS) and the interconnected Djeffara aquifer on its northern boundary, which stretches across 1 000 000 square kilometres of Algerian, Libyan and Tunisian territory and is one of the working areas of the Aquifer project.

The two sites have significant differences: Ben Gardane to the south suffers from wind erosion and its groundwater is undergoing salinization due to invading sea water. Gabes further north includes several oases and ground water at various levels, but its deep-level fossil water has been exhausted in many places.

A Dornier Do-228 aircraft flown by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was the platform for two airborne sensors operating simultaneously: the Experimental Synthetic Aperture Radar (E-SAR) bu
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
19-Dec-2005


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