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From Land Cover to Land Use: A Methodology to Assess Land Use from Remote Sensing Data
Remote Sens. 2012, 4(4), 1046-1068; doi:10.3390/rs4041046

Dynamics of a Coupled System: Multi-Resolution Remote Sensing in Assessing Social-Ecological Responses during 25 Years of Gas Field Development in Arctic Russia

1,* , 2
1 Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland, Yliopistonkatu 7, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland 2 Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Box 122, FI-96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 February 2012 / Revised: 4 April 2012 / Accepted: 6 April 2012 / Published: 17 April 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human-Induced Global Change)
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Hydrocarbon exploration has been underway in the north of West Siberia for several decades. Giant gas fields on the Yamal Peninsula are expected to begin feeding the Nord Stream pipeline to Western Europe in late 2012. Employing a variety of high- to very high-resolution satellite-based sensors, we have followed the establishment and spread of Bovanenkovo, the biggest and first field to be developed. Extensive onsite field observations and measurements of land use and land cover changes since 1985 have been combined with intensive participant observation in all seasons among indigenous Nenets reindeer herders and long-term gas field workers during 2004–2007 and 2010–2011. Time series and multi-resolution imagery was used to build a chronology of the gas field’s development. Large areas of partially or totally denuded tundra and most forms of expanding infrastructure are readily tracked with Landsat scenes (1985, 1988, 2000, 2009, 2011). SPOT (1993, 1998) and ASTER (2001) were also used. Quickbird-2 (2004) and GeoEye (2010) were most successful in detecting small-scale anthropogenic disturbances as well as individual camps of nomadic herders moving in the vicinity of the gas field. For assessing gas field development the best results are obtained by combining lower resolution with Very High Resolution (VHR) imagery (spatial resolution < 5 m) and fieldwork. Nenets managing collective and privately owned herds of reindeer have proven adept in responding to a broad range of intensifying industrial impacts at the same time as they have been dealing with symptoms of a warming climate. Here we detail both the spatial extent of gas field growth and the dynamic relationship between Nenets nomads and their rapidly evolving social-ecological system.
Keywords: Yamal Nenets; West Siberia; anthropogenic disturbance; land change; nomadism; Landsat; SPOT; ASTER; Quickbird-2; GeoEye Yamal Nenets; West Siberia; anthropogenic disturbance; land change; nomadism;  Landsat; SPOT; ASTER; Quickbird-2; GeoEye
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kumpula, T.; Forbes, B.C.; Stammler, F.; Meschtyb, N. Dynamics of a Coupled System: Multi-Resolution Remote Sensing in Assessing Social-Ecological Responses during 25 Years of Gas Field Development in Arctic Russia. Remote Sens. 2012, 4, 1046-1068.

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