Charting the rocky islets of the eastern Aegean by satellite

THESSALONIKI – A team of scientists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have used satellite data to document all the rocky islets of the eastern Aegean, from Samothrace to Kastellorizo. Islands, islets and rocky outcrops were measured, mapped and assessed for the first time in this way by a program called «Geographic System of the Aegean Islands» (GESYNA). The program was part of the Intereg II EU initiative, allocated by the Ministry of the Aegean and conducted by Thessaloniki University’s forest management and long-range observation laboratory under Professor Michalis Karteris. The data reveals the importance of those little dots in the Aegean. Rocky outcrops and islets with names such as Monopetra, Panaghia, Faria, Avga, Selli, Barbalias, Mavri Plakouda, Aspri Plakouda, Aspronisos, Tsoukalas and Prasologos have now been accurately mapped. GESYNA mapped 717 rocky islands in the Aegean, matched against data from the Greek navy’s hydrographic service at Nafpaktos on 1,552 rocky islets. According to the satellite data in the report, the Lesvos prefecture contains 138 rocky islets; the Samos prefecture has 69 and the Chios prefecture, 72. The Dodecanese (with 438) has the most islets. Data concerning other smaller islets will be processed when the program is extended. The 14-member team spent two years on the program, using the American Landsat and Indian IRS satellites. When processed, the data provide a clear picture of shore erosion, changes in biodiversity, the full extent of burnt forest areas, shores and soil particularities. The team also ascertained the precise infrastructure of the islands. They documented new roads which do not appear on existing maps, including rural and forest roads, water grids, NATURA areas, harbors, features of the main ecosystem and the boundaries of municipalities and communities.

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