Satellite Water Monitoring
Water managers all over the world are confronted with increasing challenges related to climate change. Floods and drought resulting from increasingly severe weather conditions cause worldwide economic damage, loss of nature, increased political and societal tensions and ultimately the loss of lives.
The lack of proper information on water availability is one of the most challenging obstacles in water management, especially in less developed economies. In many cases data is not available, incomplete or inaccessible. This leads to ineffective or erroneous decision making and can even cause more water problems.
Water managers have a wide range of (technological) measures at their disposal to prevent and mitigate the effects of water abundancy or shortage. With limited time and financial resources, it is crucial to facilitate the decision-making process with proper, undisputed and timely information.
Information on water availability can be obtained from various sources such as manual read (ground water) gauges, in situ-sensors, remote sensing, crowd sourcing and models. The last couple of decades the opportunities to monitor water by means of satellites have become more and more promising. With the launch of new satellites such as Sentinel 1 and Sentinel 2, more data becomes available to determine water availability: abundancy and shortages.
The water availability service which has been developed by HydroLogic uses evapotranspiration data from satellites, precipitation from radar and groundwater data to calculate the water storage capacity of the soil. It composes a full map of water-satellite water based water availability.
Application in the Netherlands
Water managers in the Netherlands are responsible for the water distribution within a river basin or catchment area. Representatives from Dutch Regional Water Authorities indicated the lack of reliable information on the water storage capacity of the soil as the most challenging problem in current water management. This hydrological variable determines both the risk of flooding during wet periods, and the need for irrigation in dry periods.
The soil water storage capacity service will provide water managers with valuable insight in the current and forecasted water storage capacity of the soil. The service uses evapotranspiration data from satellites, precipitation from radar and groundwater data to calculate the water storage capacity of the soil. This information is presented to the end user in an easy to use web application.