The Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi (EAD) is going to use the latest satellite and drone remote sensing technology, as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI), as it launches the second phase of the soil monitoring project to keep a check on quality.

The initiative will cover 250 sites in a period of 50 days.

Eng. Faisal Ali Al Hammadi, Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Quality Sector at the EAD, explained that the second phase will also include an aerial survey of the Mussafah industrial area.

Bayan Mahmoud Athamna, Director of the Environmental Quality Department at the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi said the pilot phase of the project, which was completed in August 2021, covered only two sites.

“In the second phase of the project, 250 sites will be surveyed within 50 days and more than 3.8 million square metres of land will be covered using drones,” she said.

More than 410 soil samples will be collected and examined in this phase, and their results will be linked to aerial images from drones.

“Satellite image data will be used to improve the survey plan, linking it and comparing it with spectral data from drones and laboratory data,” explained Athmna.

She noted that soon, as remote sensing technology continues to evolve, it would be possible to monitor soil health using satellite imagery.

"We have developed the methodology, hence we can keep pace with this technology and be ready for this paradigm shift in the future," she added.

Athmna pointed out that a smart monitoring methodology that relies on remote sensing techniques and AI has been developed to predict the most important pollutants resulting from human activities. These include heavy metals, organic hydrocarbon pollutants, and degrees of salinity.

The soil monitoring programme, which was launched in 2018, is designed to assess the level of contaminants.

The project involves three phases: the pilot phase having taken place in two locations in Musaffah, the second phase will map Musaffah Industrial Area and the third and final phase will cover the entire industrial area in Abu Dhabi.

Remote sensing will allow EAD to detect and monitor the physical and chemical characteristics of an area from a distance. As satellite imagery is known to produce objective, repeatable and transparent evidence, EAD will be able to protect and monitor the environment more efficiently.

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