The Kerala Backwaters from space

Posted in Guest experiences on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Our relaxing holidays on the Kerala Backwaters aboard the Village Ways houseboat ‘Goodearth’ take guests on a delightful meander through the lush landscapes of lakes and channels. It is not, however, easy to follow the route taken, and local maps are not especially helpful.

A friend, Grace O’Donovan, decided to help by seeking satellite imagery of the lower backwaters and processing it to produce a base map for guests cruising on the Goodearth.

The imagery for this map was derived from the Landsat 8 satellite, dated 23/2/2019. The imagery is open source - provided freely by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It has 11 spectral bands, three of which are in the visible range. These three bands have been layered and coloured to construct this realistic image for the map. The spacial resolution of the image is 14m.

The image clearly shows the extent of the backwaters, with the distinct change in colour of the water marking the Vembanad weir, freshwater above the weir. In February (date of the image) the weir is closed to prevent incursion of saline and brackish into the rice-growing areas of the upper backwaters. You can clearly see the patchwork of large rice fields to the east and south of the backwaters.

The cruising route of Goodearth can be seen below the weir. Your boarding point at Vayalar lies in the small channel to the west. Chenganda is on the main backwater and Chammanagri lies on the other, eastern, shore at the estuary of a small tributary river. Perambulam Island is clearly visible in the Lower Lake Vembanad. Kodamthuruthu is accessible along the lateral channels.

Kochi City can be seen spreading across the north of the image, with Fort Cochi at the estuary, where the backwaters disgorge into the Arabian Sea.

Now you can see the route, give us a call to arrange your next trip on our community-owned boat that takes you through the most beautiful and unspoiled areas of the Backwaters.

Credits: Dr Grace O’Donovan MCIEEM. Grace is a consultant with Broadview Ecological Consultants,Chalford, UK. She has an interest in remote sensing and prepared this imagery in her own time to assist Village Ways.

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