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Remote sensing is the process of collecting ,storing ,and extracting environmental information from images of ground acquired by devices not in direct physical contact with the features to be studied . Human is vision of course ,a remote sensing process, since we continuously collect and mentally interpret electromagnetic energy from our surroundings . The images of the ground may be obtained from remote sensing devices, which are carried by spacecraft or space vehicles. The  Indian remote sensing program  on remote sensing satellites is very useful and is covered . This topic includes concept of Remote sensing technology, capabilities of Remote sensing in water resources ,applications, and various works of various countries in GIS and Remote sensing.

The application of GIS has increased many folds in many fields . It is widely used as a standard tool in agriculture , environmental management ,forestry, hazard monitoring ,hydrology ,watershed management , land analysis , etc. The introduction of GIS promoted interdisciplinary studies ,both within the natural, environmental, social, and economical sciences.  GIS have developed through the conjunction of interests of several specialist disciplines, each with its own view of the world. Cartography, remote sensing, and photogrammetry, architecture and planning , surveying, and computer science have all a role in the advancement of GIS. GIS provide an infrastructure for the examination of complex spatial problems in new and exciting ways .  GIS is enabling to handle data at different scale and dimensions ,stores the data ,manipulate and analyze data and displays all forms of geographically referenced information . This topic includes use of GIS in land use planning , land evaluation studies , watershed management.

                                       IN WATERSHED MANAGEMENT**

The ” NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT  PLAN” constituted by Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India evaluated the water resources scenario in India and came up with their assessments of issues and concerns at the national level for information on water sector. Hence the assessments of all the river basins in the country is done.

Now how GIS and Remote sensing plays vital role in this watershed analysis is important asset. The paper includes the use of GIS and Remote sensing in this management, concept of watershed concept, watershed management, objectives of watershed management, watershed management programme classification, impact of watershed degradation, environmental issues in watershed area, capabilities of  GIS and Remote sensing in water resources.

                PAPER ON



GIS is a new discipline generating massive interest world wide. During the last three decades there has been a rapid theoretical, technological, and organizational development in the GIS field. GIS is an interdisciplinary area. It brings together the ideas developed in various fields such as Computer science, mathematics, civil engg., surveying, economics, agriculture, and geography to name a few.

A GIS is a computer assisted system with a set of processes executed on a raw spatial data to produce information.


  • Maps were used to portray information about the earth surface from olden times.
  • Maps were produced for land survey, navigation, and military purposes in the historical period.
  • In the eighteen century Europe started producing the administrative boundaries and topography.
  • It got extended to produce thematic maps to portray spatial information about surface features like land use, soils, and geology.
  • In the twentieth century there has been flow of geographic information with the advent of aerial photography and remote sensing.
  • Now with the introduction of digital computers and availability of large volume of geographic data, geographic information system got developed as a tool to store, retrieve and analyze large volume of spatial data.


  • PIONEERING PHASE:- Individual personalities played a role in determining what could be achieved .
  • SECOND PHASE:- Involvement of  various national agencies in various part of world to put GIS into practice.
  • THIRD PHASE:- 1980-1990 commercial dominance.
  • CURRENT PHASE:- user dominance bringing about standardization, interoperability, Open GIS information.


·         For efficient storage of data
·         Maps, data, drawing, document can be stored in digital form.
·         Queries can be asked on geographical properties.
·         Data integration from different sources i.e. satellite images, topographic maps.
·         Creating maps of different scales.

GIS Components
1.      Hardware

Workstation   Digitizer     Printers        P.C
Work station :-  Work station is based on fast processors, powerful graphic controllers with access to large RAM & hard disks. They employ high resolution monitors for quality graphical display.
Digitizer: - A digitizer is a device which is use to trace maps and to capture coordinates. A P.C is used to control and process.
Printers and plotters: - These are used to print the text or basic graphic output and to produce hard copies of the maps and diagrams.
P.C:- These are used to control the input and output devices, and to access the information and data.
2.  Data:-
Data is one of the most important components of GIS. More than 70% of any GIS projects cost lies in data capture. After gathering raw data it must be edited to remove errors and archived.
Satellite Images

·         Satellite Images are collected by sensors a satellite and then relayed to earth as a series of electronic signals, which are processed by computer to produce an image.

·         These data can be processed in a variety of ways, each giving a different digital                                    version of the image.

·         There are large numbers of satellites orbiting the earth continuously, collecting the data and returning to ground stations all over the world.

·         Some satellites are stationary to the earth (geo-stationary) for example MeteoSat.
·         Other satellites orbit the earth to provide full coverage over a period of a few days.
·         Some of the well-known satellites are, Land-Sat, SPOT, IRS.

·         These satellites detect radiation from the earth for different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
·         The multi-spectral scanners detect radiation in four different wavebands.
·         Satellite data is available in different resolution from 72 m. to one meter.




Field Data Sources:  Surveying

·         There are several methods of collecting raw data in the field for direct input to GIS.
·         These are done if the data is not readily available through other sources like map & Satellite Images
·         These methods are traditional manual surveying, using chains, plane tables, levels and theodolites, hand-held laser range finder and data logger.
Cadastral Maps:

·         Cadastral Maps are the plot boundary maps of villages
·         They are generally on 1:2500, 1:4000 or 1;10,000 scale
·         They are on Cartesian projection prepared by survey through plane table survey.
·         Cadastral maps show plot boundaries of fields, paths, river or drainage, forest area,                     trees, well and government land.
·         Each field in the map is assigned with survey no.

Facilities data:
It includes the information about the facilities like detailed drawing (built drawings), development plans (architecture) or diagrams (sections or profiles).
GIS Applications:-
GIS in land evaluation studies: - Land evaluation provides a rational basis to analyze various soil, climate, and land parameters to arrive at an optimum solution to various problems of natural resources. GIS techniques are being employed for studies like soil suitability, watershed management integrated management of natural resources. Land evaluation is based on matching the requirements of land for specific use with characteristics of inherent soil, climate, topographic and other natural resources and is concerned with assessment of land performance when used for specific use. Major GIS applications in this field are land capability assessment, land irrigability assessment, land productivity assessment, irrigation water management in command areas prioritization of sub watersheds/micro watersheds in a given watershed.


An Introduction
Remote Sensing is the science and art of acquiring information (spectral, spatial, temporal) about material objects, area, or phenomenon, without coming into physical contact with the objects, or area, or phenomenon under investigation. Without direct contact, some means of transferring information through space must be utilized. In remote sensing, information transfer is accomplished by use of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). EMR is a form of energy that reveals its presence by the observable effects it produces when it strikes the matter. EMR is considered to span the spectrum of wavelengths from 10-10 mm to cosmic rays up to 1010 mm, the broadcast wavelengths, which extend from 0.30-15 mm.
  1. In respect to the type of Energy Resources:
    Passive Remote Sensing: Makes use of sensors that detect the reflected or emitted electro-magnetic radiation from natural sources.

    Active remote Sensing: Makes use of sensors that detect reflected responses from objects that are irradiated from artificially-generated energy sources, such as radar.
  2. In respect to Wavelength Regions:
    Remote Sensing is classified into three types in respect to the wavelength regions
    1. Visible and Reflective Infrared Remote Sensing.
    2. Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing.
    3. Microwave Remote Sensing.
Indian remote sensing program
Indian remote sensing began in late 60’s with aerial surveys using a variety of sensors like infrared scanners, multispectral scanners, radiometers, and others, for the study of crops –coconut plantation in Kerala, sugarcane in mandya, Karnataka, soil and land use in Anantpur district of AP and Patiala in Punjab , and water pollution studies in Godavari river. The establishment of National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and Landsat data receiving station in mid 70s initiated this study.

The Development of IRS satellites:-
First generation of IRS satellites
The IRS-1A was the first indigenous remote satellite launched in country and orbiting polar sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of 904 km. It carried three pushbroom scanners based on LISS i.e. Linear Imaging Self scanning Sensors. LISS-1 was providing spatial resolution of 72m. LISS-IIA and LISS-IIB had resolution of 36m an swath of 145km. To provide continuous services to users of satellite IRS-1B was launched with same payload as that of IRS-1A(1988,1991).

Second Generation of IRS satellites:-                         
IRS-1C and IRS-1D were launched during 1995-1998. These have enhanced resolution as compared to IRS-1A/1B. IRS-1C and IRS-1D are having three type of sensors viz., panchromatic (PAN),
LISS-III and Wide Field Sensor (WiFS). The WiFS sensor was designed to collect data in two spectral bands (0.62-0.68µm and 0.77-0.86µm) with ground swath of 770 kms and 188m spatial resolution. This sensor was meant for monitoring crops/vegetation at regional scale.     
IRS-1D were major work horses and provides data for mapping and monitoring natural resources at1:50,000, 1:25000 and 1:12500 scale.
Sensor : IRS1D LISS III  Krishna river     mouth

Sensor : IRS1C LISS III Mayurakshi reservoir

Third Generation of IRS satellites:-
IRS-P4 and IRS-P5 are third generation satellites. IRS-P4 is called “Oceansat-I”.
This satellite was for measurement of physical and biological oceanographic parameters.
IRS-P6 is also called as”Resourcesat-1”.this was launched in October17,2003 from Sriharikota,AP,this satellite has high Spectral, and radiometric resolutions and enhance remote sensing applications in agriculture, land, water resources management, disaster management. 
The “NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT PLAN” constituted by Govt. of India evaluated the water resources scenario in India and assessments of all river basins in country was carried out.
Meaning of Watershed :-
A watershed is all land and water area, which contributes runoff to a common point. The watershed above any point on a defined drainage channel is therefore all the land and water areas which drain through that point. Watershed management is a set of action plans, which reduce or stop watershed degradation and improve soil, water and vegetation interactions.
Objectives of watershed management:-
·         Improve and manage watershed for benefit of water resource development.
·         Conservation of soil, water and vegetation.
·         To minimize natural disasters like floods, landslides and drought.
·         To minimize erosion and increase productivity of land.
·         Ensuring sustainability of the ecosystem.
Classification of watershed management programme:-
It is classified as,
1. Engineering Measures:-
·         Water conservation by percolation tanks, major and minor check dams, gabbian structures, drip and sprinkler irrigation.
·         Soil conservation –gully plugging, contour bunding.
3.      Non- Engineering measures:-It can be done by increasing vegetative measures. Farm forestry, horticulture, crop rotation, change in crop pattern, organic farming.
Indian studies using GIS and remote sensing:-
Many studies is carried out by NSRA by employing LANDSAT imagery and aerial photography to map soil types, geology, land use and landforms of watersheds in states Orrisa, A.P, Haryana, kerala, Tripura, mizoram, Nagaland, Tamilnadu, Assam etc. NSRA prepared small scale soil maps using LANDSAT imagery.Geomorphological maps and soil maps upto scale of 1:250000 have been prepared. NSRA conducted watershed priority delineation surveys using topomaps and aerial photos to obtain useful information on slope soil depth, soil texture, soil erosion and land cover conditions on 1:50000 scale on watershed basis in 18 states and 6 union territories thereby very high and high sediment yielding priority watersheds have been delineated.   

STUDY AREA:- A sub watershed of gomukhi watershed, Vellar basin, Tamilnadu,India.
Topography :- It is a rural watershed with more than 65% of crop lands. Main source of water are tanks and dug wells apart from rainfall. The study area extends between north latitudes 11º33’ and 11º42’ and east longitudes 78º43’ and 79º01’ with area of 207.36km²Out of total crops area about 40% are rain fed, 55% are well irrigated and remaining 5%are tank irrigated. This watershed consists of 19mini watersheds, which in turn consists of 68 micro watersheds. The northeast and southeast monsoons are hydro logically significant in this watershed.Tempereture in summer is max. 40ºc and in winters 20ºc.
Drainage and hydrology:-
River Thirumanimuktha, one of the tributaries of Vellar river traverse from northwest to southeast of the watershed and confluences with Bay of Bengal near Portonovo,Chidambaram. This river is ephemeral in nature and carry only flood water. Hard crystalline metamorphic rock covers the area. Ground water occurs under semi-confined condition in the fractured / fissured zones that are recharged by precipitation.
Methodology :-
The three important components of watershed namely, surface water, ground water, and soil must be considered for efficient watershed management.GIS based SCS method can be used effectively to estimate the runoff from the ungauged watersheds. Central Groundwater Estimation Methodology-1997 is used to assess ground water potential in monsoon and non-monsoon season. Mini watershed wise surface surface water potential, ground water potential maps are created using GIS to assess the water resources of watershed. The land capability classification and soil irrigability  classification maps are created based on the soil map of watershed using GIS.
Estimation of daily runoff using GIS based SCS method:-  
Soil Conservation Service-curve number method developed by United States Department of Agriculture and Soil Conservation Service(USDA-SCS)is use to estimate the direct runoff from an ungauged watershed .A lumped rainfall-runoff model is made based on this method and is improved by incorporating spatial variation of watershed characteristics using Remote Sensing and GIS. The daily runoff database of watershed(1988-2001)and curve nos. corresponding to different land use and hydrological soil cover complex are given in as input and results are obtained. By overlying mini watershed maps the weighted CN for each mini watershed is computed and the runoff potential of mini watersheds is classified as ‘very high’, `high’, ‘moderate’, and low.
Estimation of ground water potential of watershed:-     
The ground water Estimation Methodology (GEC Norms)-1997 has been used to compute the ground water potential of the study area for monsoon and non-monsoon periods. Long term data of 18 years (1983-2003) were used to find ground water trends in and around the observation wells. The values are averaged over the period for each observation well and according to their values the mini watersheds  are categorized as high, moderate, low and poor & map is made.    

The characteristics of soils, which are very important for crop suitability and productivity of watershed, are studied and evaluated for watershed management. From the evaluation it is found that most of the soils of the study area needs soil and water conservation. This is due to limitation in land suitability, soil irrigablity, low depth coarse texture and prone to water erosion.
By taking proper soil and water conservation techniques, crop productivity can be improved.

Tideman E.M: Watershed Management-Guidelines for Indian conditions.; Omega Scientific Publications, New Delhi.
Kameswara Rao S V C, Hanumath Rao .G and Ramana Murthy. J; Watershed management –Plans for Sustainable Develpoment of Land and Water Resources ; soil and crops. ; NSRA Publications, NSRA, Hyderabad.
Er.R Ilangovan; Watershed management and Envirnmental management.(paper)
Dr. S.Poongothai ; Application of Remote Sensing and GIS in watershed management(paper)

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