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Posted on November 1st, 2022

Our Changing Landscape – Germany Warships Re-Appear in the Danube

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of four, five and eight-band 3-meter imagery daily! In October, we looked at historic flooding in the middle of the USA. For this month’s Our Changing Landscape, we travel to the Danube River in Prahovo, Serbia to look at something new that has emerged from the river during the unprecedented summer 2022 European drought.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over the Danube River close to Prahovo, Serbia on May 27 and August 25, 2022. And while we had hoped to show our readers some newly emerged German warships, unfortunately this was not possible as at this resolution we could not distinguish old sunken ships from those on the river for shipping, tourism, etc. However, what is apparent in these two images is just how low the Danube River is, as the north/west river bank is exposed in the August image as are multiple patches of the river bottom close to this shore. You also see far fewer boats in the August 25th image as compared to the May 27th image, which makes sense as lower river depths mean larger boats cannot move up and down the Danube. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2022)

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats (as of January 2022) referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

German Warships in the Danube River Near Prahovo, Serbia

Prahovo is a small Serbian village that lies on the shores of the Danube River. At the time of the 2002 census, it had a population of 1,506 people. The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe, originating in the Black Forest of Germany and flowing for nearly 2,850 kilometers (1,770 miles) to its mouth in the Black Sea. It has long been a crucial trade route artery, and has been harnessed for hydroelectric power.

As Europe’s worst drought in years has ravaged the land, the Danube has dropped to one of its lowest levels in almost a century. The many month-long drought and record-high temperatures, fueled in part by human-induced global warming, has revealed numerous explosive-laden German warships, sunk in the river in 1944 during World War II. The newly exposed warships still contain metric tons of ammunition and explosives, which pose a danger to shipping as well as the local fishing industry.

The Serbian authorities have been forced to dredge the Danube to keep it passable for trade ships. In March, the Serbian government also invited a tender for the salvage of the German warships and the removal of the explosives, which was estimated to cost 29 million Euros ($30 million USD). Now we take a peek at the 3-meter PlanetScope archive to see the changes in the Danube River due to the drought. The images here focus on ships that have emerged from the river near Prahovo, Serbia, which can be read about in more detail here.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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