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Tests add satellite technology to water sustainability toolbox

Testing performed under a contract with the European Space Agency has confirmed that satellite Earth Observation (EO) technology can effectively be used to help assess the health of water bodies.

We carried out a sustainability project using satellite data to analyze water quality changes over time at England's Cardiff Bay, and Florida Bay (off the southern tip of the US state).

"This project proved that image-based water quality mapping can be particularly useful in demonstrating impacts to multiple stakeholders in a non-technical format and has benefit in translating what could be overly complicated messages to audiences such as community stakeholders,"
Frances Fay, Sustainability Programme Manager

The analyses of the two freshwater bays showed that EO-image derived maps could provide a good overview of changes in optically apparent water-quality parameters over time.

That was a key finding, as the monitoring of changes in the quality of water bodies, including the identification of hot spots, has been deemed essential by regulators for the initiation of timely corrective actions.

The results of the EO project could hold great promise in the realm of sustainability because functional freshwater ecosystems are relied upon for human and agricultural needs, as well as for wildlife preservation, fisheries production and recreation. The United Nations has projected that by the year 2025 two-thirds of the world's population will face freshwater shortages.

Location:Cardiff Bay, England, and Florida Bay, Florida, US
Client:European Space Agency
Value:US$300,000 (Project)
Scope:Water tests
Date:2006 - 2008