Research Areas

This Unit deals mainly with the generation, analysis and management of spatial information and provides support for research staff through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) technologies.


Geographic Information Systems

GIS is a tool that manages, analyzes, and models data from the environment so that informed decisions are made to better conserve natural resources and protect biodiversity. GIS technology plays an important role in the support and delivery of information to environmental managers and the public.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at IMA is used to provide data and/or services such as:

  • Topographic Maps: Simple images (JPG/GIF) or geo-referenced images (TIFF, DWG/DXF) which may be used as overlays or which can reproduce useful posters or charts
  • Feature Datasets: Coverage of spatial data where the majority of the datasets are in ARC/INFO (E00), SHP, DLG, TIGER & DEM
  • Satellite Imagery: Customizable satellite imagery through IMA’s Remote Sensing Station
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Cartography
  • Mobile Mapping/Field GIS
  • Web-Based GIS


  • Research Projects

There has been a wide variety of projects conducted by the IMA in which GIS has played a significant role. These projects have ranged in scope and focus centering on issues such as marine pollution to coastal conservation to fisheries management. The on-going projects which incorporate GIS include:

1.      An Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs in Tobago

2.      Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution (as defined and outlined by the Cartagena Convention)

3.      Fish Kills Incidents/Reporting

4.      Oil Spill Contingency Planning: Redefining ESIs

5.      Incident Coastal Planning/Development

6.      Caribbean Marine Atlas


The Caribbean Marine Atlas (CMA) was developed within the framework of the Ocean Data and Information Network for the Caribbean and South America (ODINCARSA) project and under the sponsorship of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization  (UNESCO/IOC-IODE-ICAM* programmes and the Government of Flanders (Kingdom of Belgium). This pilot project is a joint initiative of nine countries in the Caribbean region. The purpose of the project is to identify, collect and organize geo-spatial datasets into an atlas of coastal and marine-focused environmental themes for the Caribbean region.

Data will be incorporated from both past and present national and regional projects and programmes within each participating country as well as various other sources within and outside the region from the public/private sectors and non-governmental organizations that facilitate data re-distribution. The Atlas will also contain the best metadata available and links to source datasets where applicable. Through various modes of delivery, such as WMS, WFS and WCS** technologies, the CMA will accommodate users from the beginner to the more experienced.

The CMA will be a regional to national scale digital atlas comprising easily viewable and downloadable data on various key themes relevant to the marine and coastal environment of the Caribbean. Among these themes are coastal habitats, fisheries, environmental quality, climate change and sea level rise, oceanography, as well as socio-economic aspects. It is intended to provide essential datasets directly to concerned scientists, coastal zone management practitioners, and natural resource managers, and will also set the stage for the development of decision-makers' toolkits that rely on geo-spatial information.

For more information, please visit:

*IOC- International Oceanographic Commission

IODE-International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange

ICAM-Integrated Coastal Area Management

**WMS-Web Map Service

WFS-Web Feature Service

WCS-Web Coverage Service

Remote Sensing

Our Mission

To advance the development and application of remote sensing technology for the sustainable management of marine and other environmental resources within the local and regional spheres.


To provide remote sensing support and promote the use of remote sensing technology for marine and terrestrial applications.
To develop collaborative opportunities for research with local, regional and international organizations


The association of Caribbean nations known as the Caribbean Community or CARICOM designated  the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) as the Centre for  Remote Sensing in the Caribbean in 1990. In 1992 a satellite remote sensing facility was established at the IMA with assistance from the organization of American States (OAS). Since then research applications involving the assessment of wetlands (such as mangroves, marshes and coral reefs) and land use  and sea surface temperature mapping have all utilized remote sensing technology.  Archived remotely sensed data such as aerial photos and Landsat, Radarsat, SPOT and AVHRR satellite imagery were used for these applications.

In July 2004 the remote sensing infrastructure at the IMA was upgraded, adding another dimension to the existing capabilities - real time data capture. The Terascan X/L-band satellite data download system is important to both the country and region as it has the capability to provide data and information on a range of oceanographic and terrestrial parameters including sea surface temperature, cloud cover, ocean turbidity, and chlorophyll concentration. This development keeps the region in sync with the advanced technology being developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for environmental monitoring using space technology.

Research Projects

Recent Project

Status of mangrove forests in Trinidad and Tobago

This project was done in collaboration with Dr. Rahanna Juman, head of the Environmental Research Programme (ERP). The goal of the project was to establish a baseline for mangrove forests in Trinidad and Tobago from which to predict the response to sea level rise and climate changes.  High resolution IKONOS satellite imagery together with extensive ground surveys were used to map all of the mangroves around Trinidad and Tobago.  GIS software was used to develop the maps and give an estimate of the total square area of mangrove existing in the region.  The project was completed at the end of 2009.  The results are to be used to inform a new project which examines climate change impacts on selected mangrove areas.

Project Plans

Development of Satellite Based Indicators for marine management in Trinidad and Tobago

Implementation of a web based tool for satellite data catalog and retrieval

Coastline change detection using remote sensing techniques

Reef mapping from satellite imagery


Remote Sensing Laboratory

Geographic Information Systems Laboratory


Ramsewak, D. 2010. The TeraScan Satellite Ground Station at the Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago: A REGIONAL ASSET. The 5th URISA Caribbean GIS Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad, Dec 6th-10th 2010.

Ramsewak, D., and R. Juman. 2010. Wetlands of Southwest Tobago. GATT Conference: Towards a more sustainable environment: a 21st century Perspective, October 28th-30th 2010, Trinidad and Tobago. Poster Presentation.

Ramsewak, D. “Satellite remote sensing system to get overhaul”. Trinidad Express 7 Oct. 2010.

Juman R. and Ramsewak D. (2010). Status of mangrove forests in Trinidad and Tobago. Institute of Marine Affairs Research Report, 119 pp.

Ramsewak, D. 2010. The Use of Remote Sensing in Integrated Coastal Zone Management. IMA/NOAA Integrated Coastal Zone Management Workshop, Chaguaramas, Trinidad. March 8- 19, 2010.

Ramsewak, D. “Remote sensing eyes in the sky”. Trinidad Express 13 Aug. 2009

Ramsewak, D. 2008. Satellite Remote Sensing – An Appropriate Technology Solution for the Region.
Regional meeting on appropriate technology University of Trinidad and Tobago, Pt. Lisas campus April 8, 2008.


Hamish M. Asmath- Geographic Information Systems Officer- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it