Day 4

Detailed paper information

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Paper title AquaWatch Australia: an aquatic ecosystem continental integrated observing system with global applications
  1. Arnold Dekker SatDek/SmartSatCRC Speaker
  2. Flora Kerblat CSIRO Space and Astronomy
  3. Jasmine Muir SmartSat CRC
  4. Neil Sims CSIRO Space and Astronomy
  5. Tim Malthus CSIRO
  6. Tapas Biswas CSIRO
  7. Carl Seubert SmartSat CRC
Form of presentation Poster
  • A7. Hydrology and Water Cycle
    • A7.06 EO for monitoring water quality and ecological status in inland waters
Abstract text AquaWatch Australia intends to integrate Earth Observation (EO) and in situ sensors through an Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to monitor and predict inland and coastal water quality and habitat condition for a wide range of uses in Australia and across the globe. AquaWatch Australia is designed to measure key aquatic environmental and biogeochemical variables required to understand processes affecting the quality of aquatic ecosystems to provide early warning of extreme events, accurate information on recovering or threatened ecosystems, and to help predict and manage water quality threats by empowering timely management decisions.

AquaWatch Australia is co-led by CSIRO (Australia’s national science agency), the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (SmartSat CRC), and other national and international partners, leveraging their longstanding expertise in EO, in situ sensing and modelling of water quality. After delivering an initial concept study (Phase-0), AquaWatch Australia has entered Phase A, including the consolidation of its end-user requirements. The plan is to translate these into systems requirements before entering a production phase, provided sustainable government funding is secured for the next development phases.

AquaWatch Australia was inspired by and follows many recommendations from the CEOS (2018) and IOCCG 2018 reports on Earth observation of Aquatic Ecosystems. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) framework, through its Goal 6 (“Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”), explicitly highlights the urgent necessity of securing better global access to clean water and its efficient use. Management of freshwater resources is a critical global issue and vital for landscapes, ecosystem functioning, biodiversity, agriculture, and communities.

One of the key proposals of AquaWatch Australia is to develop sovereign Australian capability to build, launch and operate a constellation of satellites optimised for monitoring aquatic systems. With the exception of the coarse spatial resolution GLIMR (a geostationary America’s located satellite), and PACE (for ocean-coastal to large inland waters system), most finer spatial resolution hyperspectral satellite missions including EnMAP, DESIS, PRISMA, SBG, and CHIME have primarily been designed to monitor the land. The sensors and satellites built for AquaWatch Australia will overcome some of the limitations of these sensor systems in terms of the necessary spectral bands, spatial resolution and, if possible, revisit times, which restrict the range of water quality and benthic parameters that can be measured from space as well as the number of waterbodies from which these parameters can be measured. The AquaWatch Australia system is designed to be highly adaptable and can use existing satellite datasets such as Sentinel 2, Landsat 8 and 9, as well as all relevant planned missions to enhance its final output. Combining data from these satellite sensors with the aquatic ecosystem-specific data from AquaWatch could provide opportunities for higher resolution water quality products, using data fusion or blending approaches as required by end-users.

AquaWatch Australia is currently establishing strategic partnerships and has invested in establishing a network of national and international pilot sites. Engaging with water quality researchers and end users across different regions in the world will enable the mission to expand the range of water quality conditions that can be accurately measured and predicted, demonstrate locally-applicable solutions and diversify use cases, and develop local capacity in EO monitoring and prediction to support national and global sustainability agendas. AquaWatch Australia is also intended as Australia's contribution to GEO-AquaWatch.