Global water quality monitoring tool open to public

By on 20 February, 2018

A snapshot of turbidity levels in the Fitzroy River system, taken from the IIWQ Water Portal. This synoptic view spans inland, estuarine, and coastal waters which ultimately can affect the neighboring Great Barrier Reef. Image provided by EOMAP Australia.

UNESCO and EOMAP have launched an interactive tool providing access to detailed global water quality indicators from an archive of Earth Observation and satellite data.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has partnered with satellite-derived bathymetry data provider EOMAP to build an interactive portal showcasing water quality globally.

The portal was developed to support the UN’s International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and is the first tool to combine high-resolution global coverage with a range of satellite measurements for monitoring streams, lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

The IIWQ Portal includes a functionality to select different time periods dating back over the last three decades. Historic measurements are provided at a 30-metre spatial resolution for selected regions of each continent throughout 2016, and can be continued with various spatial and temporal resolutions for every country.

Dr. Magnus Wettle, managing director of EOMAP Australia, said the tool was extremely flexible and powerful and could be used to support a range of decision-making processes in the Australian context.

“It is an especially effective water quality tool for large, remote or developing regions, as it combines quantitative satellite-­based monitoring with user-­friendly online visualisation,” Dr.Wettle said. “For example, the tool could provide ongoing, large-­‐scale monitoring of catchment sediment loads impacting the health of the Great Barrier Reef.”

The portal provides a comprehensive range of satellite-­‐based water quality parameters such as turbidity, chlorophyll and indicators for toxic Cyanobacteria blooms, which can be mapped with weekly, or even daily, sampling frequencies.

“We can implement such a monitoring system at a range of temporal and spatial resolutions, for any given location, worldwide. Any user can choose to deploy a customised portal for their region, monitoring synoptic water quality on an ongoing basis, with user access customised to their specific constellation of stakeholders,” Dr. Wettle said.

EOMAP have indicated that they are developing future updates for the too that include guidance into risk management, and applications of Earth Observation data. The tool is accessible at the IIWQ World Water Quality Portal at http://worldwaterquality.org/.

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