Remote Sensing Research and Development


Remote sensing Research and Development Department (RSR&DD) is one of the entities under Entoto Observatory and Research center (EORC), Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI). The department is providing Master of Science (MSc.) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level postgraduate training in Remote Sensing. This postgraduate training is mainly focused on the science, technology and application of optical, hyperspecteral, thermal and microwave remote sensing as well as land surface and atmospheric remote sensing. The training modality is mainly composed of a mixture of theoretical and extensive practical and digital image processing work to provide profound research and technical skills. On the other hand, this department is dedicated to conduct operational research and delivering community service so as to contribute for tackling the contemporary Ethiopian development challenges.


Mission of the Department

The mission of the department is used to create Remote sensing-based science, technology, knowledge and technical skill-empowered people so as to avail best solution to address the contemporary societal challenges and to contribute for the progress of Ethiopian development paths.


Research Focus Areas

Our research dimension is targeted to achieve all-inclusive, coordinated and sustained observations of Earth system processes, to improve monitoring of the state of the Earth and human interaction, to increase understanding of human interaction with the surrounding environment and atmosphere and to enhance prediction of the behavior of the Earth system. More specifically, our research outputs will provide solutions using multispectral remote sensing, thermal remote sensing, hyperspecteral remote sensing, photogrammetry, LiDAR remote sensing and atmospheric remote sensing. Subsequently, all these remote sensing fields would be translated into thematic research areas such as remote sensing of vegetation, monitoring of forest degradation and deforestation, planetary and land system analysis and modelling; environmental resources conservation and management; water resource management; biodiversity conservation and management; rural and urban land administration and governance; agriculture modernization, natural disaster early warning system and management to mention just some.


Resources and Facilities

The department is dedicatedly working to establish National Earth Observation laboratory.


Project on Progress

Evaluation of the Status and National Demand of Earth Observation
Enhancing Earth Observation-based Drought Forecasting and Predication
Introducing Precision Agriculture Technology in Ethiopia
Monitoring of near real-time forest and landscape dynamics
Integration of In-situ and Remotely Sensed Data set for Pasture Quality and Quantity Assessment
   Title: RSRDP/01/2010: Evaluation of the Status and National Demand of Earth Observation Application for Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Natural Disaster Response in Ethiopia
   Principal Investigator: Dr. Berhan Gessesse(PI), Dr. Worku Zewdie (Co-PI),  Mr. Tsegaye Demsis (Co-PI), Mr. Melaku Muka (Co-PI) and Mr. Tesfamariam Engeda(Co-PI)


Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Ethiopia significantly contributing to the national annual Gross Development Product (GDP), and agricultural crop production has a very important role for the sustainable development of the country. Both commercial and food crops of the country occupy a very important position among all production system in the country. In this regard, the development of satellite-based Remote Sensing (SRS) technology integrated with Geographical Information System (GIS) significantly provides best solutions in the field of agriculture and natural disasters issues. However, there is no clear information regarding the status of earth observation application for monitoring agricultural production and disaster occurrences in the country. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to evaluate the status, challenges, opportunities and national demands of earth observation driven products and applications for  near real time agricultural productivity and natural disasters monitoring  in Ethiopia.

   Title: RSRDP/02/2010: Enhancing Earth Observation-based Drought Forecasting and Predication Services for Decision Support System in Ethiopia
   Principal Investigator: Dr. Berhan Gessesse(PI), Dr. Worku Zewdie (Co-PI),  Mr. Tsegaye Demsis (Co-PI), Mr. Melaku Muka (Co-PI) and Mr. Tesfamariam Engeda(Co-PI)


Geographically positioned in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is one of the natural resource diverse countries in the region. However, the country faces critical environmental dynamics, natural resource degradation as well as various environmental extreme challenges for the past couple of decades. More importantly, land resources degradation in the form of soil erosion, forest degradation, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, land use alienation, climate variability and change, and a variety of environmental disasters issues such as land deformation and subsidence, recurrent drought and frequent flooding, are the major environmental crises affecting the economic development of the country. More specifically, agricultural, meteorological, and hydrological droughts are the major natural disasters affecting farm production and productivity in Ethiopia. Although ground based measured datasets are very scarce to monitor different drought occurrences, recent advances in satellite technology, improvement in ground-based environmental observations and socioeconomic records permitted to make more comprehensive analysis about the consequences of natural disaster including drought and their impacts. There are also advances in data assimilation techniques from different sources for better characterization of drought prevalence and alerting end users for proper preparedness to reduce its impacts. Thus, the purpose of this study is to enhance earth observation-based metrological, hydrological and agricultural drought forecasting and predication services for decision support system in Ethiopia.

   Title: RSRDP/03/2010: Introducing Precision Agriculture Technology in Ethiopia: An Opportunity to Enhance Farming Productivity
   Principal Investigator: Dr. Berhan Gessesse(PI), Dr. Worku Zewdie (Co-PI),  Mr. Tsegaye Demsis (Co-PI), Dr. Tulu Besha (Co-PI).


In spite of its enormous socio-economic benefit and potential, most of the Ethiopia’s farming history is characterized by traditional farming practices as well as low level of agricultural technology application. Cognizant of this problem, the government Ethiopia has been implementing Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI) strategy since mid of 1990s, which has been reflected in the Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development for Eradication of Poverty and in the consequent Growth and Transformation Plans. However, various factors such as inter-annual agro-meteorological variability, differences in land characteristics and bio environmental condition, soil fertility degradation, climatic variability, recurrent agricultural drought, low level of irrigation technology usage etc. collectively control the growth of agricultural production and productivity in Ethiopia. However, appropriate and timely information on various farming practices are of prime importance and are preconditions for sustainable development of the country. Therefore, much attention has to be paid to transform agricultural productivity. In this regard, Ethiopia has to make proper utilization of the latest development of remote sensing technology, Geographic Information Systems, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Technology, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) technology, crop proximal sensors, soil proximal sensors and soil moisture monitoring sensor based solutions to modernize its agriculture monitoring and management systems. Specifically, proper integration of remote sensing technology with geographical information system (GIS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) constitutes a unique opportunities and solutions for enhancing precision farming systems in Ethiopia. Therefore, this project aims to introduce and adopt precision agriculture technologies for enhancing agricultural production and productivity as well as minimizing production costs and environmental impact of farming practices in Ethiopia.

   Title: RSRDP/04/2010: Monitoring of near real-time forest and landscape dynamics using satellite time series observations with emphasis on enhancing implementation of REDD+ initiatives in Ethiopia
   Principal Investigator: Dr. Worku Zewdie (PI), Dr. Berhan Gessesse (Co-PI) and Mr. Tsegaye Demsis (Co-PI)


Earth observation data plays a vital role for monitoring of forest changes at various scales and temporal gradients, and thereby, facilitates climate change adaptation and mitigation planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting. Deforestation accounts for the release of over 15% of global anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and is the second greenhouse gas emitter next to burning of fossil fuels. The improvement in data availability and processing technology of both optical and radar data with different spatial and temporal resolution has enabled, among others, accurate measurements of deforestation and carbon sequestration estimations. Even if there is a better method and data, the monitoring of forest disturbances and mapping of driving forces based on forest types are minimal or not sufficiently organized in developing countries like Ethiopia. Moreover, it has not followed a time series approach to account for annual disturbances considering re-growth and small-scale forest fragmentation which are the main contributor of forest changes. In this research project, a combination of field and earth observation datasets will be used for monitoring changes to provide climate change related initiatives such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) with empirical inputs on the dynamics of forests and forest landscapes. Hence, this project aims to monitor forest disturbance, re-growth and set activity data using time series earth observation satellites and to assess integration of carbon, environment and social monitoring in pilot REDD+ project areas.

   Title: RSRDP/05/2010: Integration of In-situ and Remotely Sensed Data set for Pasture Quality and Quantity Assessment to enhance livestock production
   Principal Investigator: Mr. Tesfamariam Engeda (PI) Mr. Tsegaye Demsis (Co-PI) and Mr. Melaku Muka (Co-PI)


The availability of healthy pasture for developing countries that are dependent on cattle farming is vital. It plays a significant role in animal productivity to meet an increasing demand for meat and dairy products in a sustainable manner. In Ethiopia, availability of forage is acute due to the expansion of cultivated land, population growth and degradation of grazing fields owing to deterioration of their carrying capacity linked to large size of livestock population. Hence, managing of pastures requires careful monitoring of the quantity of forage and available crude protein for grazers. Particularly, due to the scarcity of forage and the variability in climate, requires due attention in dry land regions of the country. Real-time estimation of quality and quantity of forage allows for accurate and timely determination of protein and energy supplementation requirements. Hence remote sensing and modelling approaches allow for large scale monitoring, quantification and prediction of pasture conditions. Therefore, this project assesses productivity and quality of rangelands in semi-arid regions of Ethiopia using an integrated spectral reflectance and laboratory data.

Research  Output

MSc Thesis

Hareya Birhane (2018). Validation of Airborne Photogrammetric Derived Digital Elevation Model Products around Mekelle City, Ethiopia

Melaku Muka (2017) Spatio-temporal based Drought Monitoring and Prediction Using Satellite Driven Products and Regression Tree Model: The case of Ethiopia

Getachew Bayable (2017): Evaluating the Nexus between Climate Variability and Vegetation Dynamics: The Case of Upper Awash Basin, Ethiopia

Serawit Mengistu (2017).Evaluating the Performance of Satellite Based Rainfall Estimates and Characterizing Long-term Variability of Rainfall: The Case of Awash Basin, Ethiopia

Tsegaye Demsiss (2016) Characterizing and Modeling of Spatially Distributed Heat Flux as a Proxy for Urban Climate Change using Remotely sensed Data: The Case study of Addis Ababa City, Ethiopia

Tesfamariam Engeda (2016). Characterizing the Hydroclimatic Extremes of Deficient Moisture to Monitor Agricultural Drought using Satellite Data: The Case Study of Upper Awash Basin

Wubetu Anlye (2016). Patterns of Lake Baeska Catchment Landscape Dynamics: Implication on soil Properties across land use land cover units using Remote sensing and In-situ Measurement Integrated Approach

Zenabu Getahun (2016) Liner Feature Orientation and positional Accuracy Assessment Orthophoto and its product for Large-scale Map Production: The Case study of Bahir-Dar Town



Publication YearTitle and AuthorAccess
In pressEvaluation of Long-term Satellite-based Retrieved Precipitation Estimates and Spatio-temporal Rainfall Variability: The Case Study of Awash Basin, Ethiopia. In Melesse, A.M., Abtew, W., and Senay, G. (eds). Hydrology and Climate Variability: Monitoring, Modeling, Adaptation and Mitigation. Elsevier Publishing Company.
Serwait Mengistu, Berhan Gessesse, Tulu Besha Bedada, Degefie Tibebe
In pressPatterns of Lake Beseka Catchment Land use Dynamics: Implication on Soil Carbon and pH Properties. In Melesse, A.M., Abtew, W., and Senay, G. (eds). Hydrology and Climate Variability: Monitoring, Modeling, Adaptation and Mitigation. Elsevier Publishing Company.
Wubetu Anely, Tulu Besha Bedada, Berhan Gessesse
In pressSpatio-temporal analysis of Agricultural Drought in Ethiopia using CORDEX Africa Climate Data. In Melesse, A.M., Abtew, W., and Senay, G. (eds). Hydrology and Climate Variability: Monitoring, Modeling, Adaptation and Mitigation. Elsevier Publishing Company.
Degefie Tibebe, Jemal Seid, Berhan Gessesse and Tulu Besha
In pressLand Use/land cover Transformation and its Implication on Land Resource Degradation: The Case of Modjo Watershed, Ethiopia. In Melesse, A.M., Abtew, W. and Senay, G. (eds). Hydrology and Climate Variability: Monitoring, Modeling, Adaptation and Mitigation. Elsevier Publishing Company.
Berhan Gessesse, Woldeamlak Bewket and Achim Bräuning
2018Assessing and Quantifying Impacts of Land Use and Climate Changes on Hydrological Processes: Review, Journal of Environment and Earth Sciences, 8(3),10-18.
Gizachew Kabite, Misgana K. Muleta and Berhan Gessesse
2018Hydro-geomorphological characterization of Dhidhessa River Basin, Ethiopia. International Soil and Water Conservation Research, 6, 175–183.
Gizachew Kebaite and Berhan Gessesse
2018Positional accuracy test of digital orthophoto mapping: case Bahir Dar City, Ethiopia. Nordic Journal of Surveying and Real Estate Research, Volume, 13 (1), 7–17.
Zinabu Getahun, Tulu Besha Bedada, Berhan Gessesse, and Martin Vermeer
2018Validation of new satellite rainfall products over the Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia. Journal of Atmospheric Measurement and Techniques, 11, 1–16. 10.5194/amt-11-1-2018.
Getachew Tesfaye, Tsegaye Tadesse, Berhan Gessesse and Tufa Denku
2018Spatio-temporal assessment of vegetation phenology in the dry sub-humid region of Nigeria using multi-temporal time series of AVHRR: Geoscience 10:1–11.
Babatunde Adeniyi Osunmadewa; Worku Zewdie ; Elmar Csaplovics; Olabinjo Clement Adeofun
2017Monitoring ecosystem dynamics in northwestern Ethiopia using NDVI and climate variables to assess long term trends in dryland vegetation variability. Applied Geography 79: 167 – 178.
Worku Zewdie,Csaplovics,E. and Inostroza
2016Determinants of farmers' tree-planting investment decisions as a degraded landscape management strategy in the central highlands of Ethiopia, Solid Earth, Volume, 7, 639-650, doi:10.5194/se-7-639-2016.
Berhan Gessesse, B., Bewket, W., and Bräuning
2016Identifying Categorical Land Use Transition and Land Degradation in Northwestern Drylands of Ethiopia. Remote Sensing 8,408. doi:10.3390/rs8050408.
Worku Zewdie and E. Csaplovics
2015Why does accuracy assessment and validation of multi-resolution-based satellite image classification matter? A methodological discourse.” SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science, 38 (1), 29-42.
Berhan Gessesse, Bewket, W. Bräuning
2015Model-based characterization and monitoring of runoff and soil erosion in response to land use/land cover Changes in the Modjo watershed, Ethiopia. Land Degradation and Development,. Volume 26, Issue 7, 711–724.
Berhan Gessesse, Woldeamlak B., W. Bräuning
2015Remote Sensing based multi-temporal land cover classification and change detection in northwestern Ethiopia. European Journal of Remote Sensing, 48:121-139.
Worku Zewdie and E. Csaplovics
2014Drivers and implications of land use and land cover changes in the central highlands of Ethiopia: Evidence from remote sensing and socio-demographic data integration. Ethiopian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. Volume, 10 (2), 1-15.
Berhan Gessesse and Woldeamalk Bewket
2011Rates and Patterns of Forest Cover Change in the West Central Ethiopia: Application of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System Analysis. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, ISBN 978-3-8465-4631-4, paperback, 124 Pages.
Berhan Gessesse
2010“Review of land degradation and land management in Ethiopia up to 2008/09” In Ethiopian Environment Review, Edited by Sue Edwards, FfE, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Pp 187-214.
Berhan Gessesse


Postgraduate Student Profile

NameTitleDesertion TitleContact Address
Andualm AkliluPhD Development of Remote Sensing Based Crop Specific Insurance Products: A Case Study for EthiopiaEmail:
Gebeyehu AbebePhD Crop Monitoring and Yield Forecasting Using Integrated Remote Sensing and Ground Observations Email:
Tenaw GiremewPhD Remote Sensing of Essential Biodiversity Variables for Monitoring Biodiversity Responses to Environmental ChangeEmail:
Birhan Gebrehiowt PhD Modeling the Spatio-temporal Distribution of Podocarpus falcatus Species under Climate Change and Land Use Dynamics using Remote sensing Techniques: The Case of Gidabo Watershed, EthiopiaEmail:
Gizachew KebaitePhD Hydrological Responses to Climate and Land Cover Changes in the Dhidhessa River Basin, Ethiopia: Earth Observation PerspectiveEmail:
Getachew TesfayePhD Residual Soil Moisture Dynamics under Varying Hydro-climate Conditions to Enhance Crop Production Monitoring (A microwave and optical remote sensing approach in the Upper Blue Nile basin, in Ethiopia)Email:
Agenagnew AssfawPhD Temporal Relationships between Rainfall Variability and Vegetation Condition and Land Use Dynamics and Base and Peak Flows Response in the Choke Mountain Range, Upper Blue Nile Basin, EthiopiaEmail:


Staff Profile

NameTitleResearch AreaContact Address
Berhan Gessesse PhDintegrating the science, technology and application of optical and microwave Remote Sensing; Global Navigation Satellite System solutions (GNSS) and Geospatial Information Sciences and Geo-statistics for studying Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere-atmosphere interaction systems. Email:
Phone: +251-911126910,
Worku Zewdie PhDRemote sensing, land cover land use change patterns,
GIS modelling for spatial planning,
Climate change and vegetation dynamics,
Crop monitoring
Phone: +251-911666435
Tsegyae DemsisMScLand, Oceanic and Atmospheric remote sensing,
Modelling heat flux and heat wave for urban climate condition,
Climate change and vegetation dynamics,
Drought prediction and forecasting
Phone: +251-911908387
Melaku Muka MScRemote sensing of Agriculture,
Remote sensing of Climate Change and Environment Disaster,
Image classification in remotely sensed,
Content based retrieval of remotely sensed image
Phone: +251-947410396