Coastal life, a better understanding

Besides the huge touristic potential of the area, the Romanian seaside represents a complex and vivid environment, a unique interlacing between wild and protected life, traditional rural lifestyle and economic development.

Romanian Black Sea coastal zone is represented by 240 kilometres of the western waterfront of the Black Sea, situated between the Musura Gulf (Ukrainian border) and Vama Veche village (the Bulgarian border).
From geomorphological point of view, this area has three sectors: Danube Delta in the north, Razim-Sinoe complex (an area with natural levees), both included into the UNESCO biosphere sanctuary, world heritage, and the Dobrogea coast (sea fronts, beaches and harbours) in the south. Given this particular collage of different environments, the Romanian coastal zone represents for TERRASIGNA an interesting and challenging study subject with important benefits both for private and public sector, local and worldwide.

The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe and one of the youngest and most complex ecosystems in the world. This natural open-air biodiversity museum is affected by both natural phenomena, and anthropic changes (from exploitation of natural resources to increased navigation). A wider understanding of the environment is made possible with the HydroSAR service developed by TERRASIGNA that allows mapping and monitoring activities related to hydrodynamic features of wetlands, by using optical and SAR imagery and InSAR techniques. HydroSAR service exceeds limitations like: lack of consistent time series of in-situ measurements and the remote character of the study area, which makes the acquisition of in-situ observations not an easy task. Activities related to environmental protection and risk management mitigation can reach a higher level of effectiveness by using HydroSAR products: water extent maps, water flow directions maps and water level changes maps. This technology is completely non-invasive, accurate and cost-effective and can be also used for activities related to monitoring variations of the shore line and detecting changes imposed upon the environment by storms or other anthropic events for the entirely Black Sea coast.

Given the economic interest of the Black Sea’s basin in the region, it became one of the most environmentally challenged areas in the world and, consequently, a subject of transnational interest. In line with the high investments made by the European countries and their international partners in Earth Science data collection and dissemination systems (e.g. satellites, in-situ networks, ICT frameworks) as well as with the European Space Agency’s policy regarding free and open access policy to data, TERRASIGNA created ESPOSS (Earth Science Data Access and Processing Service for Black Sea). ESPOSS is the first online open source platform that gathers large amounts of information for the Black Sea area and provides its users access to customizable processing and analyzing tools. Environmental issues such as: water pollution, phytoplankton bloom, sediment transport, water balance, ocean surface topography as well as marine animal’s mortality due to anoxia can be address by using ESPOSS. ESPOSS platform can also be tailored for any area of interest: ocean, lake, river or land.

The experience of developing ESPOSS was used by TERRASIGNA in relation to implementation of the Thematic Exploitation Platforms – Coastal (C-TEP). C-TEP is an online service, funded by ESA, which will provide access to an extensive archive of over 20 years of EO data, near-real-time (NRT) satellite data streams, in-situ measurements, and the tools necessary to process and extract information from said data.

Coastal fields of study, such as climate change, economic development, habitat classification and coastal research, can be addressed by users of the C-TEP through a cloud-based workspace. Common problems like managing huge amount of data, access to data or data availability are thus solved and a collaborative environment among users is promoted.