DORIS is an advanced downstream service for the detection, mapping, monitoring and forecasting of ground deformations, at different temporal and spatial scales and in various physiographic and climatic and environments. DORIS integrates traditional and innovative Earth Observation (EO) and ground based (non-EO) data and technologies to improve our understanding of the complex phenomena that result in ground deformations, including landslides and land subsidence, and to foster the ability of Civil Protection Authorities to manage the risks posed by ground deformations. DORIS delivers innovative products at the regional and local levels, tailored on the needs of national and local Civil Protection authorities. For the purpose, DORIS exploits state-of-the-art national technological and scientific capabilities. DORIS complies with guidelines provided by the EU Emergency Response Core Services (ERCS) Interdisciplinary Group, and is designed to be linked to existing Core Services, including SAFER and GMES EMERGENCY. The service benefits from the experience and the products released by the ESA GMES Pan-European Ground Motion Hazard Information Service TERRAFIRMA.
DORIS has improved the state-of-the-art in the science and technology currently used to detect, map, monitor, and forecast ground deformations. Improvements consist in the innovative exploitation of EO data and technologies. DORIS exploits the unique ESA ERS-1/2 and ENVISAT C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) archives to provide unprecedented, very long time-series of ground deformations. DORIS will evaluate new SAR sensors, or constellation of sensors, including ALOS, COSMO-SkyMed and TerraSAR-X. The service exploits the significantly reduced revisiting time and the higher spatial resolution provided by the new X-band sensors. DORIS moved forward the combined application of satellite and ground-based differential SAR interferometry, coupled with geophysical probing and numerical modelling for an improved monitoring and forecasting of ground deformations.
DORIS operates in different study areas in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland. The ensemble of the study areas represents a wide range of physiographical and environmental settings, and include most of the types of ground deformations for which the service was designed. Successful application of the service in the selected study areas will guarantee that the downstream service works in Europe, and in other similar areas. DORIS benefits by a unique team of public administrations, leading research institutes, and enterprises with consolidated experience in the application of EO technology for environmental and Civil Protection applications.
Rationale for the service
Ground deformations, including landslides and land subsidence, are the result of a variety of natural and human induced causes and triggers. These phenomena are frequent and widespread in Europe, and cause extensive economic damage to private properties and public assets. The social impact of these highly hazardous phenomena is relevant. In Italy, a country for which detailed information exists on the damage caused to the population by ground deformations, landslides are the primary cause of death caused by natural hazards. Detailed and comprehensive figures on the number, extent and frequency of ground deformations are not available for most of the other European countries, but the information available for selected areas concurs in indicating that the Italian figures are not extreme values. Indeed, the international community of scientists and practitioners dealing with slope failures considers the extent of the landslide problem in Europe largely underestimated.
In Europe, the large number of areas affected by ground deformations, the frequency and extent of the triggering events, the extent of the impact and the magnitude of the damage, make it mandatory a multi- scale, systemic approach. Further, the complexity and extent of the problem is such that it cannot be tackled at an individual, site specific scale, or using a single technique or methodology. The problem can be approached only through the integration of data and information taken at different scales, and with the collaborative efforts of multiple expertises. With this respect, the multiple satellite sensors now available, including passive (optical) sensors and active (synthetic aperture radar, SAR) sensors, provide valuable technological alternatives to traditional methods and tools to detect, map, monitor and forecast ground deformations over large areas and with the required accuracy.
In the recent years, largely as a result of research and development initiatives financed by the European Commission, the European Space Agency, and by individual national agencies (e.g., the Italian Space Agency), significant progresses have been made for the innovative exploitation of Earth Observation data and technology to detect, map, and monitor ground deformations. Particularly significant results were achieved in the use of space-borne SAR sensors, and specifically (although not exclusively) those managed by ESA to monitor individual ground deformations. The European leadership in differential SAR interferometry is demonstrated by the success in this field achieved by several European research institutions, some of which (CNR and UNIFI) are partners of DORIS. On the commercial side, high-tech SMEs (three of which are partners of DORIS, including ALTAMIRA, GAMMA and TRE) have flourished, filling a niche in the highly competitive market of environmental monitoring, and are expanding behand the continental boundary. Less significant, but nonetheless relevant results were obtained in the use of high and very-high resolution optical sensors for the detection, mapping and monitoring of landslides, for the rapid mapping of the damage caused by major hazardous events, and for the measurement of individual parameters (e.g., soil moisture) useful to the geographical and temporal prediction of ground deformations.
Recent advances in EO data and technology, coupled with an improved understanding of the natural triggers and the human causes of the ground deformations, are making possible to predict the triggers, to detect, map and monitor the individual deformations over large areas and for significant periods, and to forecast the extent and magnitude of the ground deformations. This is a significant achievement for Civil Protection authorities in Europe, that can exploit EO information to:
- Detect areas affected by ground deformations, and identify areas prone to ground deformations,
- Monitor the geographical and temporal evolution of natural and human induced events that cause ground deformations,
- Forecast potentially damaging events that may result in hazardous deformations before they occur,
- Assess the direct and the indirect impact, and the consequences of hazardous ground deformation events on the population, the build-up environment, and public and private assets, and
- Help determine the vulnerability of different types of elements at risk, including the population, to hazardous ground deformation events.
In this context, DORIS intends to facilitates the use of EO information and products to improve the ability of CD authorities to manage natural and human induced hazards that produce ground deformations.