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Earth observation vital in monitoring wetland waters

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Celebrated yearly on 2 February, World Wetlands Day goals to lift world consciousness in regards to the significance of wetlands for our planet. This yr’s theme shines a lightweight on wetlands as a supply of freshwater and encourages actions to revive them. From their vantage level of 800 km excessive, Earth-observing satellites present information and imagery on wetlands that can be utilized to watch and handle these valuable sources sustainably.


Pure wetlands are a few of the most various and productive ecosystems and are vital for human survival. They supply many vital advantages for humanity, starting from freshwater provide, offering meals and habitat, supporting biodiversity, to flood management, enhancing water high quality and local weather change mitigation.

But wetlands face many challenges. In response to the Ramsar Conference, 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared because the starting of the final century. Some wetlands have been misplaced or degraded on account of air pollution, overexploitation of sources and deforestation.

On 2 February 1971, 50 years in the past in the present day, the Conference on Wetlands of Worldwide Significance was signed in Ramsar, Iran. All our bodies concerned in implementing the conference require up-to-date information and dependable data to raised perceive wetland areas, full nationwide inventories, carry out monitoring actions, perform assessments and put applicable administration plans in observe.

Earth commentary is recognised as a dependable and cost-effective approach for analysing and quantifying varied elements of wetland waters. The monitoring of inland water our bodies is crucial with a view to characterise water our bodies, establish modifications or tendencies in water amount and high quality, and assess how these modifications affect the integrity of wetland ecosystems and the companies they supply.

Simulation of climate change on discharge at the inlet to the lower Ogooué River

For instance, the Ogooué River in Gabon, the fourth largest river in Africa by quantity of discharge and catchment, is dwelling to vital wetlands. Nonetheless, the river is essentially unmonitored, and the shortage of observations poses a big problem to administration efforts.

Earth commentary will help bridge this hole, offering extremely useful observations to watch the modifications in river flows and their incidence on the water regimes of downstream wetlands.

ESA’s GlobWetland Africa project has demonstrated how information from each ESA’s CryoSat mission and from the Artificial Aperture Radar Altimeter (SIRAL) instrument onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission might be assimilated in hydrological simulation fashions to evaluate the river’s water stability and analyse modifications within the influx hydrographs to chose wetlands in response to land use modifications, hydropower and local weather change.

Hydrographs present the speed of stream, or discharge, over time. These fashions are key in understanding catchment dynamics and are a vital instrument to systematically consider the interactions between water availability, water use sectors and future local weather.

In Uganda, wetlands and different water our bodies cowl roughly 10% of the nation’s floor, and is dwelling to Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. Nonetheless, many wetlands are put underneath strain from drainage and are reclaimed to offer land for native communities to extend agriculture manufacturing for the quickly rising inhabitants.

As a way to map the dynamics of the water our bodies and wetlands, ESA’s GlobWetland Africa mission crew used 4 years of knowledge from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions merged collectively in a hybrid strategy to map the extent and frequencies of water and moist soils, and used as enter for making ready nationwide wetland inventories.

The pictures beneath present wetlands alongside the shore of Lake Victoria and Lake Wamala. Wetlands type alongside slender water streams, the place the groundwater degree is excessive, and common floods happen. The maps present that a few of the wetlands have a robust seasonal element, whereas others are moist all year long.

Wetland inventory for Lake Victoria and Lake Wamala

Below ESA’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative, information from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission was used to analyse water high quality in Lake Titicaca – the second largest lake in South America and a chosen Ramsar website. The distinctive and fragile ecosystem is negatively impacted by environmental degradation, brought on by pure and anthropogenic causes, together with sediment runoff and soil sanitisation, untreated city and mining effluents and unstainable agriculture, fishing and aquaculture practices.

Sentinel-Three has been used to watch the variation of suspended matter and chlorophyll concentrations within the lake thereby serving to to detect tendencies and scorching spots over time, data which is required to make well timed choices to rising water high quality issues, such because the identification of sediment plumes, dangerous algae blooms and pink tides.

Chlorophyll map of Lake Titicaca

Christian Tottrup, DHI GRAS and mission chief of EO4SD on water useful resource administration, commented, “Earth commentary is an economical know-how for figuring out the precise time, place and focus of air pollution – data which is of utmost significance to watch giant funding tasks on sanitation infrastructure across the lake.”

The contribution of Earth commentary was additionally valued on the bottom. Rene Quispe Chambi, a specialist in water useful resource administration from the Nationwide Water Authority (Autoridad Nacional de Agua or ANA) in Peru, stated, “It’s our goal to combine Earth commentary information into our water monitoring programs as resolution makers require this kind of data.”

ESA’s Marc Paganini added, “The European Copernicus programme and its Sentinels provide unprecedented alternatives for the Ramsar Contracting Events to conduct the required wetland stock, monitoring and evaluation that make sure the sensible use and conservation of their wetlands, which is the first goal of the Ramsar Conference.

“The open and free information coverage of the Sentinels together with their world protection and the reassurance of long-term continuity of observations, are vital incentives for wetland practitioners to routinely combine Earth commentary of their work.”

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Lake Titicaca – one of the largest lakes in South America.

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