29th EARSeL Symposium in Chania, Greece
The idea of hosting an EARSeL symposium at the premises of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) in Greece came up for the first time in 2005, during the 25th EARSeL symposium. Since then the idea has been pursued by Ioannis Manakos (head of the Environmental Management Department), who is strongly motivated and focused on Remote Sensing Applications in the Environment, and warmly welcomed by the EARSeL Bureau (Rudi Goossens, Rainer Reuter, Andre Marçal, and Lena Halounová). The organization of the symposium was initiated one and a half years in advance. MAICh personnel and MSc students were enthusiastic, and the authorities and people of the city of Chania embraced it. Attention was given to maintaining high scientific standards as well as making attendees feel at home, while at the same time promoting remote sensing to a wider audience of locals and tourists.
The title & the goal
Imagine Europe, because we would like to show through the common activities of our association how we imagine and envisage the future of our contribution to Europe, to the next generation of a lifelong learning society, and of remote sensing related scientists. Imaging Europe, because we are imaging Europe through our work; interpreting its nature, its man-made interventions and artifacts in various ways, and under the prism of various scientific fields and objectives. In this context, the title demonstrates the goal of the symposium to register the contemporary status of our Association and its recent achievements, and to pinpoint near and expected longer term future trends and developments.
From the first, the MAICh team wanted to organise a symposium which would be a success in all respects. Priority was given to the quality of the papers, and for this reason, the incoming contributions were sent to the leaders of the special interest groups for review, and also to prioritise their importance. Another concern was to keep the number of sessions as high as possible, while at the same time avoiding spreading the audience over many rooms. In addition, for the first time for some years, posters were thematically allocated to the respective oral sessions, and a short amount of time was assigned for their presentation to the audience, introducing in the best way the topics and tutors in the overall discussion. Time for poster presentation in a separate hall was, of course, built into the schedule.
The keynote speakers were selected with the strategic orientation of EARSeL in mind, having not only a high representation and involvement in latest EO developments in Europe, but also demonstrating a wider perspective and the will to learn about global developments, and strengthening existing or initiate new cooperations with the rest of the remote sensing world. Within this framework, Prof. Dr. Richard Bamler, director of IMF at the German Aerospace Center – Remote Sensing Technology Institute, presented “TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X, EnMAP: Flagships of Germany's Earth Observation Program”, and Prof. Guo Huadong, Director General at the Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth – Chinese Academy of Sciences, illustrated “Remote Sensing for Wenchuan Earthquake Disaster Monitoring in China”.
Another aspect of EARSeL role in remote sensing society was highlighted; the role of the association in joining or leading research consortia within EU funding frameworks, as indicated by its involvement in the GEOLAND II and SEOS projects. EARSeL already acts as a contact point for scientists who are interested in searching and building up working groups for the optimal promotion of their interests, while being confronted with the challenge of addressing calls for proposals. In this context Dr. Carine Petit, senior science officer from the COST office gave a talk about COST action, participation and perspectives.
Furthermore, a tutorial was carefully selected for presentation by a commercial company, to reflect the high value that EARSeL places on cooperation with software developers in remote sensing and geoinformation in general. Mr. Lawrie Jordan, ESRI Director Imagery Enterprise Solutions, presented “New trends for GIS and Remote Sensing software packages”. In addition, ESA, UNESCO, European companies and their Greek representatives, and Greek companies sponsored the Symposium and had a presence in the Company exhibition room.
Having strategically demonstrated EARSeL activities and vision, MAICh wanted to present the latest developments, which are unique by Greek standards. An in situ demonstration of MAICh's platform for field spectroradiometric measurements, which provides the capacity to be mobile, fast, and reach up to 9 metres high, took place at the conference center.
Last but not least, the organizers wanted to bring remote sensing in general and the association in particular closer to the local society and to the numerous tourists visiting Chania at the time. To this end, SPOT gallery donated its products and the Center for Architecture in the Mediterranean (CAM) hosted the exhibition “The Earth from Space: A Work of Art” at the center of the harbour area of the old city of Chania. Over 1500 people a day visited the exhibition to the sounds of relaxing music.
Local press and TV were present at all events, keeping the public informed daily with the latest news about the Symposium, accompanying workshops and events. At the same time, social events facilitated a better insight for the attendees into local traditions and life.
The events in brief
Starting on Monday, 15th of June, the EARSeL council met in the morning to address various issues concerning the association; the most important issue being the election of the new bureau. At noon, the symposium was initiated by Prof. Eberhard Parlow, former chairman of EARSeL, with a flash-back slide show with music and speech - about the foundation and development of the association, the people and the events, through the decades. For the older participants it was a chance to remember and for the younger ones, an opportunity to learn. The opening session continued with the keynote speakers taking the lead, giving their contributions, and discussing with the attendees. Sessions on forestry, land use and land cover, and urban remote sensing followed, with excellent presentations and vivid discussions. In the afternoon buses brought everyone to the icebreaker party and welcome reception at the CAM exhibition.
The sessions continued throughout the days that followed, giving chairmen and audience alike the chance to follow interesting presentations and get involved in discussions. Chairmen evaluation sheets reflect the excellent work of our colleagues, their thorough presentations, and fruitful discussions.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 2nd workshop on education and training “Earth Observation: From Research to Teaching in Schools and Universities” took place in parallel with the final SEOS project meeting, within which this special interest group (SIG) has been active for the last two years, providing 16 e-learning modules for high schools throughout Europe. Smaller discussion groups were formed, on the initiative of the SIG leader(s), like the newly established SIG on Thermal Remote Sensing, which discussed scientific issues, not only during but also in between sessions, in rooms provided by MAICh.
On Wednesday, the General Assembly took place and all members had the chance to learn about the developments within the association during the last year, and take part in its procedures. The same evening, a traditional dinner with local dancers and music put everybody into an excellent mood and communicative spirit.
On Thursday, the Tutorial and the presentation on the COST action took place before the closing session. “Imagin(e,g) Europe” became history. All involved personnel of MAICh, all students, our Greek “canaries” (the local assistants that are present in every symposium, wearing yellow t-shirts which makes them easy to spot), the local organization committee and, of course, the newly elected EARSeL bureau were present and acknowledged with applause for their efforts. The newly elected chairman of EARSeL, Dr. Rainer Reuter, concluded with a speech on the future expectations for the association.
As the symposium closed, the 4th workshop on remote sensing of the coastal zone “Coasts and Climate Conflicts” was opened, which again followed a success story, reaching its peak on Saturday the 20th of June, when, during a field excursion at sea a dedicated diving team demonstrated a series of surface and sea bottom experiments. At the end of the day, everybody was satisfied and happy about this experience.
A last statement
EARSeL and MAICh were honored to welcome you to Greece and greatly appreciated your presence and contributions. We would like to give a big “thank you” to all SIG leaders and council members for their engagement, and another big “thank you” to the scientific committee members for their contributions.
EARSeL would like to express its thank to MAICh for the excellent organization, and to the MSc students of MAICh (our Greek “canaries”) for their warm welcome and support during the symposium.
Finally, EARSeL would like to express gratitude to the authors that contributed to this proceedings book.
Enjoy reading and remember that we are looking forward to meeting you all during the next EARSeL event
With our kind regards, Ioannis Manakos & Chariton Kalaitzidis
Local Organizing Committee, Geoinformation in Environmental Management Dept., MAICh, (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)