The field of remote sensing is fast evolving, with new satellites being launched and new sensors developed every year. Inevitably any book on the subject is slightly out-of-date as soon as it is written. The Handbook summarises the state-of-play in terms of operational use of remote sensing in coastal management applications in 1998/1999. Since the bulk of it was written, several important satellites, which will influence the application of remote sensing to coastal management problems, have been launched. These include Landsat 7 carrying the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+), the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) for ocean colour mapping, SPOT 4 with the new High Resolution Visible and Infra-Red (HRVIR) sensor, IKONOS 2 with its 1 m panchromatic and 4 m multispectral image data (www.ersi.bc.ca/ikonos.html), and the Indian Remote Sensing satellite IRS-1D with improved panchromatic spatial resolution of around 5 m. Apart from IKONOS 2 which was launched in late September 1999, these sensors are all discussed in the text but the implications of recent sensor developments and changes in pricing have yet to be evaluated fully for coastal management applications. However, the protocols used to evaluate the range of sensors discussed in the Handbook provide guidelines as to how the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of the new sensors may be assessed.
Although specific costs (e.g. those stated in Chapter 5 for various remote sensing products) may change, the type of information that needs to be gathered and compared in order to decide which sensor may be most appropriate for user objectives, remains the same. A key aim of the Handbook is to allow users to take the methodologies outlined here and apply these in their own countries for their own objectives and thus be less reliant on outside inputs. With the rapid development of PC computing power and decrease in the cost of appropriate hardware and software, this is becoming a more achievable goal every year. To allow users to stay abreast of new developments in the field we have included many URLs to key web sites both in the text and in Appendix 1.
The authors hope that the Handbook proves a valuable sourcebook to all involved in managing coastal resources or planning remote sensing campaigns to assist coastal management initiatives. Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, in such a wide ranging book some errors or omissions are bound to have crept in, and I apologise in advance if such are found.