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Versione italiana
Academic year
Didactic period
Primo Semestre

Training objectives

Remote Sensing is one of the main sources of data useful for environmental studies. It has become of wide usage for some decades for numerous earth science topics. The recent technological advancement, that involves all the Earth Observation fields (platforms, sensors, software, etc.) renews the interest for Earth Scientists in RS applications.

Nowadays, cartographic representation and production are conducted in a GIS (Geographic Information System) environment. The GIS is the preferred tool to manage spatial/geographic data: from their collection, passing through the analysis and ending with the maps production.

The main aim of this course is to offer to the student the basic knowledge useful to process the most commonly used satellite platforms (e.g. Landsat, Sentinel). Data analysis and interpretation will be conducted benefitting from the usage of GIS software. The scientific bases and the theoretical background that support these disciplines (basic physics of RS and GIScience) will be briefly presented. After an introduction on the most used methodologies for data processing, the lectures focus will be on the images and the modules more useful in geoscience applications.

Many territorial operators use RS and GIS to study and manage environmental phenomena. Thus the knowledge of these tools is useful not only for students interested in pursuing a research careeer but can also be spent also in a professional work environment.

The theoretical lectures will be always followed by the illustration of how to apply the method ina practical case study. The practical exercises at the PC aim to understand some of the main RS and GIS capabilities:

-How to build vector files
-How to visualize raster files, single bands, false color composition and undertake contrast stretching
- How to undertake spatial analysis
-Principles of photointerpretation and cartographic production (geomorphological, geological, risk mapping, etc.).


Basic computer knowledge. Knowledge of coordinate systems. The course and the exercises will be given in Italian but the GIS software allows to set-up an interface in English. The exam can be taken in English upon request.

Course programme

The course includes 48 hours of teaching divided between theoretical lessons and practical computer exercises (24 hours).

The following main topics will be covered during the theoretical lessons:

Geomatics. The science and technology of problem solving. Introduction to GIS and historical hints. GIS principal applications. The representation of geographic data, vector and raster models. Topology and spatial analysis. Errors in geo-data, numerical cartography and databases. (12 hours)

Remote Sensing definitions and physical basis. Atmospheric windows and spectral response. Passive and active sensors, LiDAR from airplane and ground based. Digital aereophotogrammetry, the structure from motion (SfM) algorithm. Drones (UAV) and their application. GPS systems and surveying (12 hours).

Practical PC exercises will be undertaken on the main theoretical topic as listed below using the QGis package (version Long Term Release):

Spatial data implementation, georeferencing, archiving vector files.
Extraction of a topographic profile from a DTM, exporting scaled datasets and data analysis applied to the drawing of a geological cross-section in GIS.
Image and DEM analysis.
Enhancing visualization and representation for geomorphological and geological mapping (20 hours).

The course includes some general remote sensing background and descriptions of applications in geomorphological and geological mapping. It also includes some basic knowledge in landscape mapping techniques using UAVs and Laser Scanner (4 hours).

Didactic methods

The lessons will be theoretical, case studies and practical exercises at the computer laboratory using the laptop of the student. If the COVID-19 pandemic will require limited access to the laboratories, sub-groups of students will be organized.

A number of seminars given by leading experts will take place.

Learning assessment procedures

One PC exercise: that will be on a combination of GIS procedures.

One written exam: starting from the discussion on the exercise results, theoretical questions will be asked on some of the topics explained in the theoretical lessons

Reference texts

Lecture notes

Free web book: Geospatial Analysis 5th Edition. 2015 (de Smith, Goodchild, Longley)

Tutorial Canadian Center of Remote Sensing.