Day 4

Detailed paper information

Back to list

Paper title Remote sensing of inland water quality works! But why is it hardly used by managers and authorities?
  1. Karsten Rinke Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research Speaker
  2. Susanne Schmidt Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research
  3. Thomas Wolf LUBW Landesanstalt für Umwelt Baden-Württemberg; Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts
  4. Werner Blohm Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt
  5. Jannick Hinsch Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt, Hamburg
  6. Kurt Friese Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Form of presentation Poster
  • A7. Hydrology and Water Cycle
    • A7.06 EO for monitoring water quality and ecological status in inland waters
Abstract text Monitoring of surface water quality is regulated by many national and European regulations and an important aspect of protecting aquatic ecosystems, achieving sustainable development goals, and supporting human well-being. Classical monitoring strategies target in situ monitoring and are time-consuming, cost-intensive and require well-trained personnel and sophisticated analytical labs. Remote sensing techniques can support and extend these monitoring efforts without raising costs and efforts dramatically. Indeed, many research projects convincingly documented that remote sensing is able to assess important water quality variables like turbidity, transparency, chlorophyll, humic substances, water temperature or cyanobacteria. In this context it is astonishing to note that remote sensing does not play a bigger role in governmental monitoring programmes and are hardly used by water managers, state authorities or communes. Why do these institutions do not make more use of the multiple opportunities provided by satellite observations and exploit data providing infrastructures like Copernicus Services, EO-Bowsers or institutional facilities in their governmental tasks?
In this talk we want to identify, explore, and discuss a multitude of reasons that may explain the discrepancy between the rich potential of remote sensing techniques for detecting inland water quality and their limited public utilization. We found a mixture of reasons that often act in concert and, for example, refer to lacking legislative framing, unknown transferability of methods between different kinds of water bodies, missing training and competences in authority staff, lacking harmonisation among states and countries, or the interpretation of remotely sensed data given their more complex data structures. We gained insights into these limitations from communications with German water authorities and European institutions as well as intense discussions with water experts.
We conclude by proposing a structured approach that helps authorities to use remote sensing products in their daily business. This approach includes a sound scientific basis of remote sensing products and harmonized procedures to implement remote sensing into governmental practices. We further report our experiences from co-developing this approach together with state agencies, reservoir authorities and other water-related institutions. This work is embedded in the Copernicus Programme via a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. For further information refer to the webpage of the BIGFE-Project (