War! Huh! What Is It Good For?

Well remote sensing for starters….

Edwin Starr sang of the devastating impacts of wars around the world, I wonder if he too was a fan of RS?

Wars, while obviously have devastating consequences and deeply affect those affected, often mark some of the biggest advances in technology, and remote sensing is no different.

Because of the need to constantly get the upper-hand over an enemy, technology is forced forwards. The results are often impressive, if not slightly tainted by the reasons for their creation. As mentioned in an earlier post, the two World Wars as well as the Cold War all helped push remote sensing on in its development.

This post is focused mainly on the use of RS to determine the impacts of war in the end of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries.

The use of remote sensing for monitoring the impacts of the Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait was one of the first to gather media and public attention (Al-doski et al, 2013). For the first time, the satellite images gathered by various scientific and military bodies were being released to the public.

This satellite image shows damage to the Great Mosque in Aleppo, Syria. Remote sensing can be used to further detail exactly to what extent the damage is.

Remote sensing instruments are still surprisingly limited to study war and conflict impacts and still the ability of satellite imagery for detecting war impacts such as: bullet-pocked walls, abandoned buildings and individual mines are limited and difficult due to spatial, spectral and temporal characteristics of the data

(Al-doski et al, 2013).


Al-doski, J., Mansor, S. B., Mohd Shafri, H. Z. (2013), War Impacts Studies Using Remote Sensing, IOSR Journal of Applied Geology and Geophysics, 1:2, pp. 11-15.

americantreasuretour.com, (2015), FESS!, Available at: http://americantreasuretour.com/blog/fess, (Accessed on: 24th May, 2017).

Van Den Hoek, J., Basic, G., Kurgan, L., & Brawley, D. (2016), Conflict urbanism; Aleppo, available at: http://c4sr.columbia.edu/conflict-urbanism-aleppo/remote-sensing.html, (Accessed: 24th May, 2017).