Posted on February 7th, 2017

Our Changing Landscape – Jannah Dam

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 8 billion square kilometers of data. In the first Our Changing Landscape of 2017, we looked at the construction of a Russian stadium, and this month we move to the Middle East with a look at the construction of a controversial infrastructure project, Jannah Dam in Lebanon.

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Jannah Dam on April 17, 2012, April 25, 2013, April 23, 2014 and July 2, 2015. In these images, you will see that many of the surfaces look too bright, we did that on purpose as the dam is located in a deep valley which is quite dark. Since it was dark, we had to increase the brightness of the image which blurs out many of the surrounding features. Further, we had two 2016 images for this article but both were completely black in the valley that contains Jannah Dam. Either way, you can see that construction was completed on the area from 2012 to 2015 but little to no changes in the river itself can be detected. It would be interesting to see what was happening in 2016 – we are bummed! (Images Courtesy: Planet)

The Construction of Jannah Dam, Lebanon

It appears that the conversation around Jannah Dam (sometimes called Janna Dam) was started in 2009 by the EBML division of the Lebanese government to help alleviate the chronic water shortages that plague the nation. Initial plans suggest a 100-meter (about 328-feet) tall dam that will span the Abraham River in a region called the Adonis Valley, which is about 25 kilometers (or 16 miles) northwest of the ancient city of Beirut. Once completed, Jannah Dam is expected to create a 38 million cubic meter (about 1.342 billion cubic feet) lake to supply water to Byblos and Beirut as well as create 40 Megawatts (MW) of power.

Construction on Jannah Dam started in 2013 but from the inception of the project, it has been surrounded by a cloud of controversy. For instance, this public dispute between the Lebanese Energy minister and its Environment minister whereby by the Environment minister ordered a construction stoppage on at least one occasion (i.e. from 2016), citing that cutting down trees in the region is prohibited by law. The dam has also been opposed by a wide-range of environmental groups who believe its construction will destroy the local habitat which is home to more than 700 plant and animal species, many of them endemic. Other opponents are concerned that Jannah Dam will be built on two active fault lines, accentuating the risk for catastrophic failure.

Whatever your views on the dam might be, it is the point of this article to see how construction of Jannah has progressed since 2013 and also to see if active construction is still visible. This second point is intriguing as both the Environment minister and the Governor of Mount Lebanon have ordered the dam’s construction halted. However, local environmental groups claiming it is still ongoing. So now it is time to turn our attention to the 5-meter RapidEye archive to see if it will shed any light on this topic!

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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