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Posted on November 3rd, 2015

Our Changing Landscape – Artvin Dam, Turkey

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 7 billion square kilometers of data. This month, we continue our look at dams with a focus on the newly constructed (or perhaps still under construction, that is not clear) Artvin Dam in Turkey.

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.

Artvin Dam, Turkey

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Artvin Dam, Turkey on November 9, 2010, August 16, 2013, September 3, 2014 and September 3, 2015. In the four images, you will see the area before construction started and then in the final image, the site when construction looks to have been completed. You will see significant buildup of infrastructure along the river but no significant change in water levels can be detected (at least as of yet). (Images Courtesy: RapidEye)

Since at least the 1980s, it has been the focus of the Turkish government to harness the power of their many mountain rivers, such as the Coruh River in the north-eastern part of the country. The Coruh River is widely recognized as a key ecological zone in the Caucasus Mountains, rich in biodiversity, and was sometimes called Turkey’s last remaining wild river. The Coruh flows through the Mescit Mountain Range with an average elevation of 3,713 feet and flow rate of 656 feet per second. As such, it may come as no surprise to our readers that the Turkish government has plans for up to 15 dams on the Coruh, producing an estimated 8,320 Gigawatt hours per year (GWh/year), as part of the Coruh Development Plan.

Artvin Dam is one of the 15 dams planned for the Coruh and is located in the middle section of the river. Construction on Artvin began in December 2010 and it was expected to be completed in 2015. Artvin is planned to be some 591 feet tall and will be an arch-gravity dam similar to the construction style of Hoover Dam in the USA. Alstom has been contracted to install turbines and generators able to produce 1,025 GWh/year which is enough to power 500,000 homes. And as a final note before we move to the visual 5-meter RapidEye record of the dam’s construction, there are studies that highlight the pending environmental disaster (for instance this impact study) of Artvin and the rest planned along the Coruh – oh the tragic costs of “human development.”

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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