Imaging Spectroscopy of Urban Environments

  • S. van der LindenEmail author
  • A. Okujeni
  • F. Canters
  • J. Degerickx
  • U. Heiden
  • P. Hostert
  • F. Priem
  • B. Somers
  • F. Thiel


Future spaceborne imaging spectroscopy data will offer new possibilities for mapping ecosystems globally, including urban environments. The high spectral information content of such data is expected to improve accuracies and thematic detail of maps on urban composition and urban environmental condition. This way, urgently needed information for environmental models will be provided, for example, for microclimate or hydrological models. The diverse vertical structures, highly frequent spatial change and a great variety of materials cause challenges for urban environmental mapping with Earth observation data, especially at the 30 m spatial resolution of data from future spaceborne imaging spectrometers. This paper gives an overview of the state-of-the-art in urban imaging spectroscopy considering decreasing spatial resolution, the related user requirements and existing knowledge gaps, as well as expected future directions for the work with new data sets.


Imaging spectroscopy Hyperspectral Urban Unmixing Spatial resolution Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) 



The authors are grateful to the editors of the special issue and the organizers of the ISSI workshop on Exploring the Earth’s Ecosystems at a Global Scale with Imaging Spectroscopy Data in Bern, Switzerland, in November 2016, where the present paper was framed. The work of the authors was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy in the framework of the EnMAP Core Science Team (FKZ 50EE1622) and by the Belgian Science Policy Office in the framework of the Stereo III Project UrbanEARS (SR/00/307).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geography DepartmentHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment SystemsHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of Geography, Cartography and GIS Research GroupVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Division of Forest, Nature and LandscapeKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  5. 5.Department of Land Surface Dynamics, German Remote Sensing Data CenterGerman Aerospace CenterWeßlingGermany

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