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Copernicus Sentinels lend a hand to help monitor inland and coastal water quality

Copernicus Observer
19/01/2018

Lakes, reservoirs and coastal water bodies are essential components of the hydrological and biogeochemical water cycles, and influence many aspects of ecology, the economy and human welfare. Knowledge about the state of inland and coastal water bodies is therefore of great importance, for citizens, public authorities and businesses alike.

 

The EOMORES project is developing reliable, sustainable and fully-automated commercial water quality monitoring services, powered by data from the Copernicus Sentinels.

 

Water bodies such as lakes, lagoons and reservoirs provide us with a range of ecosystem services including fresh drinking water, recreation, transport and fishing. In order for these activities to be carried out safely – and without disrupting the biodiversity of local ecosystems – these water bodies need to be regularly monitored. European legislation such as the Water Framework Directive also requires Member States to report on the ecological and chemical status of inland and coastal water bodies.

 

Traditionally, water quality monitoring requires physically taking samples of water to a laboratory for analysis. This process has a number of drawbacks: it is time-consuming, and does not capture the temporal and spatial differences which may be present within the same (large) water body.

 

 

Monitoring inland waters and coastal zones from Space – the EOMORES project

 

Taking advantage of the free and open data from the Copernicus Sentinels, EOMORES  is an EU-funded innovation project which is developing integrated water quality monitoring services for inland and coastal waters. EOMORES was funded as a so-called “downstream” Copernicus project, meaning that the project will take Copernicus Sentinel data and information and add value to it for the purpose of meeting specific user needs – in this case, those of water management authorities. EOMORES services will be based on the combination of three different data sources:

 

  • Satellite monitoring: Data from Copernicus Sentinels and other sources provide a “big-picture” overview every few days.

 

  • In situ monitoring: On-site measurements made using specialised instruments (such as the Water Insight Spectrometer) offer the possibility for near-continuous observation of a specific location, allowing fine-grained dynamics over time to be observed (i.e. over the course of a single day).

 

  • Ecological modelling: Taking input from these two data sources, the EOMORES team is building ecological models which can simulate water quality evolution in three dimensions and over time, to generate forecasts of algal blooms or scum formation, for example.

 

These three sources can be flexibly combined and generate higher-level products (e.g. supporting Water Framework Directive reporting) customised to fit the operational needs of water management authorities.

 

The EOMORES service components

 

 

Monitoring inland water bodies from space affordably has become possible thanks to the availability of free and open satellite data from the Copernicus Sentinels. The guarantee of long-term data availability is definitely an enabler for building sustainable commercial operational services, whilst the resolution (e.g. Sentinel-2 reaches 10, 20 or 60 m depending on the spectral band) and revisit time (5 days at the Equator for both Sentinels-1 and -2) are appropriate for discerning changes on the surface of lakes and other inland water bodies.

 

Thanks in large part to Copernicus Sentinel data, EOMORES services are expected to have lower operational costs compared to traditional sample-based monitoring, and to provide more timely and reliable water quality datasets. The services being developed are targeted at international, national and regional authorities responsible for monitoring water quality management and environmental reporting, as well as private entities dealing with water quality.

 

The EOMORES project has just concluded a productive first year of preparatory research, during which the groundwork has been laid for the development of innovative water quality monitoring services. The team has already conducted numerous field campaigns in lakes, lagoons and coastal waters in six selected countries (Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, UK and the Netherland), collecting data required for validation of the services. The selected sites represent a range of ecoregions, water types and water body sizes, and thereby reflect the challenges these water bodies pose to water managers.

 

 

WISP intercomparison at Loch Airthrey, UK (Credits: EOMORES)

 

 

The first EOMORES newsletter was recently released, along with a brand new leaflet. Find out if EOMORES team has been collecting data on a lake near you, take a look at the achievements to date, and discover the secret weapon against algal blooms. If you wish to read all the latest news from EOMORES, you can subscribe to the EOMORES newsletter here.

 

Find out more about how Sentinels lend a hand to help monitor inland and coastal water quality on the EOMORES website.

 

 

Top-right picture: Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite image of Divjaka-Karavasta National Park, Albania, and the surrounding area. Algal blooms appear in this image as lighter shades of blue along the coastline. (Credits: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data (2017). Processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

 


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