Remote sensing laboratory

Focused on remote sensing data preprocessing and processing. Applications for environment monitoring in the Czech Republic.


Remote sensing laboratory was established on 1.1.2019 as a part of CENIA, Czech environmental information agency restructuralisation. Foundation of the Laboratory was driven by motivation to research interactions among several landscape parts a socioeconomic aspects of human activity based on use of remote sensing methods both on local and global level. CENIA has already used remote sensing methods in a number of previous projects and based on this experience, specialised unit was established to intensify activities in this area.

Research activity

Research of laboratory is primarily focused on landscape which is composed from solid surfaces and matters, water areas and atmosphere. Various kind of data is obtained from the landscape using remote sensing instruments of different data types, formats and areas of electromagnetic spectrum. Possible scenarios of further develoment, models and simulations are calculated based on combination of remote sensing data and other data sources. Often the process of modelinng and simulations leads to the develompent of new methods of data processing (methods, algorithms, programming tools or specialised technological processes and steps).

Concluding the above mentioned, measurement of energy flows in the landscape within the research activities of Laboratory is focused int two main areas of activities:

Water retention in the landscape

Water retention can also be defined as aggregated indicator, where some phenomenon like temperatures of surfaces, humidity or vegetation indices are fetched from remote sensing data. Practical outputs are water retention in the landscape, water cycle or even temperature based regional division of the Czech Republic (migration of hotspots).

Spectral analysis of objects

Not only physical appearance of objects, but also their qualitative status can be determined from their spectral appearance (e.g. health of vegetation, pollution of water areas, waste composition of the landfill, etc.). Any results of analyses need to be verified in-situ.


Remote sensing laboratory emloyees have been working in several projects, not only limited to use of remote sensing techniques. Click on the tiles below to see details about each project.

Currently running projects

Environmental Research Centre: Waste and Circular Management and Environmental Safety

The aim of the project is to build a long-term, professional, interdisciplinary research base consisting of key research organisations with expertise and professional capacity to conduct research in the field of waste and circular economy in a broader context. The Centre will provide the Ministry of Environment, other ministries, expert platforms and other entities with research results, dissemination of scientific knowledge and expert support in the development of policies, strategies and regulations.

The main thematic areas on which the Centre will focus its activities are waste and circular economy, monitoring and development of new monitoring tools to track the transition to a circular economy, including the development of new indicators, product life cycle analysis, ecodesign, environmental contamination issues in terms of technology, emerging pollutants, the use of new methods and approaches to identify and remove pollution, e.g. through remote sensing. The area of environmental safety, prevention of major accidents and the related topics of cyber security and social acceptability of environmental and technological issues are also a non-negotiable topic. The activities of the Centre link the natural sciences, engineering and humanities in one interdisciplinary platform with the aim of moving the Czechia closer to a circular economy.


European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters (ETC/ICM) is an expert consortium of EU based research, public and private institutions that are supporting the European environment agency in the area of EU water policies implementation. The main role of CENIA within ETC/ICM is Urban Wastewater Treatment directive (UWWTD) reporting preparation, support and evaluation.

Detection of energy flows in the landscape - urban areas definition

Definition of urban areas based on remote sensing data classification. Supervised classificaion of satellite data is applied to define the urban areas, enabling identification of partial phenomenon acting in the urban areas and their monitoring. Metholology can be applied to define urban areas in all municipalities of the Czech Republic in defined time horizons. The advantage of the methodology is its preparedness for possible international comparison.

Detection of energy flows in the landscape - urban green areas

Inventarisation of urban green areas from remote sensing data. The aim of the methodology is analyzing of green infrastructure which defines share of urban green and water ecosystems in urban areas of cities in the Czech Republic in different time spans. The result is the share of green infrastructure on the urban area of the city and its administrative area.

Detection of energy flows in the landscape - heat islands

Detection of overheating prone urban areas. The aim of the methodology is to analyse surface temperatures distribution within urban areas that are sensitive to extreme temperature changes due to climatic change caused mainly by high share of artificial surfaces and decreasing share of pervious surfaces.

Past projects

NIKM - 1st stage

National inventory of contaminated sites (NIKM - 1st phase) project was focused on creation of methodology for current and historic aerial imagery analysis to identify suspicious contaminated sites and dangerous waste landfills, both legal and illegal (done in 2009-2013). The methodology was verified on ca. 10 % of test area selected within the Czech Republic including testing of possible use of hyperstectral satellite imagery (RapidEye, WorldVIes and EO-1 Hyperion satellites). After its approval, the methodology was used in the whole country mapping in the Czech Republic, which was carried out in the 2nd stage of the project.

Complete seamless coverage of the Czech Republic by historic aerial imagery form years 1952-1953 was fetched and is available on

NIKM - 2nd stage

National inventory of contaminated sites project - 2nd stage (NIKM 2) is continuation of 1st stage (see Project NIKM - 1st stage), where the whole area of the Czech Republic is mapped by method of visual interpretation of satellite images, including NIR band. Digital elevation model data is used as one of supporting layers. Current aerial images from 1998-2018 and historic aerial imagery form 1952-53 are used. Additional supporting databases are used to improve the precision of suspicious sites identification - e.g. Czech Geological survey, National mapping agency (ČÚZK), CENIA, Czech army, etc. Suspicious sites are split into 14 categories


The main objective of the project was to determine the impact of environmental measures on the climate adaptation of the concerned sites using remote sensing data. In particular, the effect of the implemented measures on the changes of the surface temperature of the concerned sites was examined both locally and in relation to the external environment.


EnvSec project financed by the Ministry of Interior was dealing with applied research in the area of global changes assessment and their influence on environmental security of the Czech Republic. Project was a response to security risks coming from damage of ecosystems.

The aim of the project was to extend methods of integrated asseessment and monitoring of global changes influences on the environemntal security of the Czech Republic including evaluation of ecosystem risks and their impact on Czech ecosystems. The aim of the proect was to develop methodological and information tools supporting monitoring and assessment of environment security, especially to support national implementation of Copernicus and GEOSS programmes.

Project website:

CORINE Land Cover

Laboratory staff have been involved in the last three mapping cycles of the CORINE Land Cover project. The CORINE Land Cover database is created on a scale of 1:100 000 with the smallest mapping unit for area phenomena of 25 ha and a minimum width of 100 m for linear phenomena. The time series are supplemented by changing layers in which changes to the landscape cover are plotted with the smallest 5 ha mapping unit. CORINE Land Cover contains a total of 44 classes of landscape cover and land use, 29 classes occur in the Czech Republic.

The national CORINE Land Cover databases are created within the EIONET network (NRC/LC) in specified years. Most countries, including Czechia, use the method of visual interpretation of satellite images using national reference data – in the Czech Republic e.g. aerial orthophoto, or LPIS database.

Remote sensing data analysis in the resort of the Ministry of Environment

Project is assessing the use of remote sensing data by various organisations within the resort of Ministry of Environemnt. Apart from that other opportunities for remote sensing data use in daily work on regular agendas and research of the resort organisations are mapped.

Other important projects with participation of Laboratory employees

Mapping of central Nile river in the area of northern Sudan

In 2001 and 2002, a project was carried out to produce satellite maps of the northern part of Sudan on a scale of 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 for the purposes of geological exploration (around 60,000 km2 in total). The contracting authority was the Soudanese Ministry of Finance in cooperation with the Shirian al Shamal Company for Energy of Khartoum. The basic source for the creation of these maps were multispectral data taken by the Landsat 7 satellite (ETM+, 30 m resolution). After checking the radiometric and geometric accuracy of the data, appropriate color synthesis was created. Five entire satellite scenes have been transformed into the WGS84 coordinate system. To refine the transformation, GPS has been used to target identical points directly in the field.

Old maps (the most recent from the 1930s) were used for naming and spelling, which was refined by the local investigation. The geodetic and mathematical basis of the map sheet nomenclature has been solved. Visualization and printing of map schemes was done on a sheet basis (a total of 64 maps at a scale of 1:100,000 and 16 maps at a scale of 1:50,000).

Crop classifiaction within the area of Jaslovské Bohunice nuclear powerplant

Project was realised in August 2008 to thoroughly test technoligies suitable for damage assessment of vegetation, especially agriculture crops, in case of nuclear accident. Project was realised for AB Merit company and evaluated quite a big amount of satellite data coming from ASTER (13 spectral bands, spatial resolution 15 - 90 m) and MODIS (36 spectral bands, spatial resolution 250 - 1000 m) instruments placed on board of Terra and Aqua satellites.

Verification of remote sensing techniques in crisis situtations

In 2009, a project for the National Office of Radiation Protection (SÚRO) was undertaken to explore the possibilities of implementing the classification process of Remote Sensing Multispectral Satellite Data to produce and update thematic maps. Especially for the precise identification of the different types of vegetation cover. In the first phase, data from the ASTER sensor of the Terra satellite was used, and in the second phase, data from the HRV sensor of the Spot 5 satellite was used.

Technologies were tested which, if necessary, could be used to ensure the evaluation of damage to vegetation and especially to agricultural areas in the event of a radiation accident (in this case NPP Temelín). It turned out that it is necessary to pay attention to data bases, which must be current, accurate, high quality and, above all, absolutely true.

The project also estimated the amount of contaminated biomass for the zones affected by radiation leakage. In addition, an estimation of yields for a given crop, and thus in this case an estimate of losses in agricultural production, was made on the basis of the results of the crop classification.


The FATIMA research project from the EU Horizon 2020 program dealt with the possibilities of applying Earth remote sensing methods in the field of precision agriculture. Using satellite and aeronautical data from drones, the yield potentials of crops were determined, which served as one of the bases for variable application of fertilizers, pesticides and other substances, thus optimizing the process of fertilization and treatment of agricultural crops, reducing leaching of nitrogenous substances and pesticides into groundwater, savings were also made in the consumption of chemicals used in intensive agriculture and consequent financial savings for farmers.


Premia is a project for ESA (European Space Agency) dealing with the application of remote sensing data in the field of agricultural insurance. Time series of satellite data together with yield maps and historical data of extreme natural phenomena (eg landslides, droughts, hail, etc.) serve as input for modeling and predicting future developments and helps farmers and insurance companies with the availability of a risk maps and provides an overview of the frameworkof the amount of insurance for selected crops on the land. Based on the results of the project, farmers can make better decisions when creating crop plans and thus ensure the best possible profitability of agricultural production.

Tetrao tetrix biotope identification using remote sensing methods

The subject of the research was to determine whether the occurrence (suitable habitat) or absence of the black grouse in the Ore Mountains can be explained by variables derived from unclassified satellite images (spectral and texture indices) and to what extent they can be distinguished. The research used data from long-term monitoring of black grouse abundance in the Ore Mountains and images of the Landsat satellite from the relevant years.

The experiment was designed to first verify the ability of spectral and textural indices to distinguish a suitable habitat from a completely unsuitable one. In addition, the usefulness of the indices to differentiate the areas of presence and the absence of grouse in the Ore Mountains environment over the entire reporting period were analysed, and finally the usefulness of the indices was determined to explain the time-space changes in distribution.

As a result, the selected spectral and texture indices are significant for all three experiments in statistical models and become a suitable indicator of the presence or absence of the black grouse in the Ore Mountains. It can be assumed that this procedure can be used for other territories or different species.

Monitoring of supra-glacial lakes by means of radar remote sensing

Satellites often offer global coverage nowadays, which increases the potential for radar data to be used in tracking changes on the Earth's surface and in hard to reach or alpine areas.

The subject of the research is dealing with the potential use of radar data from the Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B satellite constellation to identify and monitor glacial lakes. As a result of climate change, the count of glacial lakes is increasing. With a sudden drainage of such lakes, damage to the infrastructure of the lower-situated settlements occurs. Monitoring the occurrence and growth of these lakes is crucial for early warning before a possible disaster, especially in alpine areas.

Our staff

See the short profiles of Remote sensing laboratory employees.

Dr. Pavel Doubrava

Head of Remote sensing laboratory

"Graduated in the Faculty of Science of the Charles university in Prague, specialized in regional geography. He has more than 30 years of experience in digital remote sensing data procssing focusing on applications in environment, agriculture and forestry. His professional career has started as a researcher within Interkosmos research programme where ha was participating in a development of new methods of digital remote sensing data processing and also worked on a development of sensors for Mir space station. In the early 1990s he was working in Germany in a expert group developing defense applications of remote sensing and later also paticipated in several projects for JPL NASA and other private companies focused on remote sensing development. Apart from that he is an independant consultant in the areas nanosat construction and development of nonconventional space propulsions."