Qatar is facing unprecedented development both inland and in its surrounding waters. While the natural environment is not yet fully characterized, there is a need for managers to have an accurate overview of it as a decision making tool and a baseline study for monitoring the future changes. Remote sensing techniques are cost effective in their ability to cover great areas and provide information in a time and cost efficient manner. Development of new sensors such as the WorldView2 satellite and airborne hyperspectral sensors provides highly accurate data including habitat, and superficial soil characterizations. Finer scale techniques such as acoustic surveys can be deployed to compliment study areas of particular interest. Finally, data have to be verified and validated by visual field observations. Implementation of these new techniques for producing a large-scale geographic information system data set for Qatar would highly improve the current knowledge and provide a powerful decision making tool for environmental management and policy decisions. In this context, WorldView2 satellite images have been evaluated as a first step in the remote sensing research program to test the potential of such data for coastal mapping. The objectives of this project were to: test the standard strategies generally used for high resolution imagery processing taking advantage of the new specifications of the sensor (8 spectral bands), and to develop innovative methods for bathymetry estimation and sea bottom characterization. Preliminary results indicate that accurate classifications are possible; habitats such as coral patch reef structures, seagrass and soil classifications have been identified in agreement with the validation field surveys. This is the first step in a multi-faceted approach to utilize the latest remote sensing technologies.


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