Skip to content

Towards sustainable Marine & Coastal space based services in support of European Water Quality legislation

Water quality is one focus of monitoring agencies and the public, and it is subject of several European Directives: Water Framework Directive (WFD), Bathing Water Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), and regional conventions: OSPAR), HELCOM), etc. Yet in order to be effective, the implementation of such legislations needs to be rigorously monitored. In this respect, and in the context of GMES initiative, water quality services are paramount.

Thales Alenia Space France is coordinating 2 European projects (MarCoast and Aquamar) aiming to provide sustainable space based downstream services in support of this implementation. The goal is to foster the development of an European capacity to provide validated information products, in a standardized and harmonized way, and to support the wide range of Service providers involved since a long time in that development.

MarCoast funded by ESA-ESRIN, is delivering services for the operational monitoring of marine water quality. Services are based on satellite data, driven by users, designed to assist with the reporting requirements of EU and national policies.
Services are distributed yet harmonised, with a common requirement for input data common approach to validation, quality control and cost-effectiveness.

Aquamar as the R&D branch of MarCoast, and supported by EC FP7 funding, is developing 5 new service lines and improving products and validation processes.

  • Support to Water Framework Directive (WFD)
  • Detection of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB)
  • Compliance monitoring for Large Infrastructure Projects
  • Bathing waters monitoring
  • Precision Farming Aquaculture

Aquamar is also developing a web based platform, specific tools and training materials to support Service providers and end-users activities.

Support to Water Framework Directive (WFD)

This activity is improving the quality of satellite data products near the coast (within 1 nautical mile) in order to provide better products to support monitoring requirements of the WFD. Work is focusing on cloud screening, shadow detection, flagging improvements and land-water mask improvement. The following figure shows improved detail in coastal land-water mask.
Figure 1 : Improved detail in coastal land-water mask (green areas), source Brockmann Consult

Detection of Harmful Algal blooms (HAB)

A number of institutions are involved and in general each are developing algorithms to identify certain species of algae that cause problems in their local area. There are some optical differences between species identified in the laboratory, but in general satellite imagery is only able to give results for high concentrations of certain species. Classification techniques are also being investigated as an alternative approach. With each method being studied there is a requirement for in situ measurements to support the detection and validate algorithms. As example, harmful algal bloom classification and the differences between using satellite products from the MODIS and MERIS instruments are investigated. Figure 2: (Harmful algal bloom classification with MODIS an MERIS, source PML)

Web based platform in support to the Service providers and end-users

The first version of the Aquamar Information system has been released. Based on open source solutions, this web platform comprises several functions and tools developed in Aquamar and available for Aquamar and MarCoast users

Figure 3: (Home page of the Aquamar/MarCoast Information system portal)
  • Service provider tools: technical tool allowing to directly fetch myOcean data for further processing
  • Service Validation tools: to assist the validation bureau in analysing the validation reports, uploaded by the service providers. It provides also the possibility for end users to send their own validation assessment
  • Metadata editor allowing service providers to define their service metadata in a standardized way
  • Service & Product Catalogue to retrieve products in an harmonized and standardized way

Time Series Tool

The Time Series Tool is a graphical extension to BEAM VISAT. Its purpose is to foster validation and quality improvement by making possible to investigate time series for specific EO variables. The Time Series Tool allows the user to load and display series of satellite data of different dates for analysing the behaviour of several EO variables (e.g. total suspended matter, chlorophyll_a) along a timeline. It also allows the user to import in situ data for comparing them with the satellite data for validation purposes.

Improving the Service Validation process

To support the Service Validation process, initially defined within the MarCoast project, the validation methodology has been improved and implemented in the Aquamar Information system. Service providers validate their services by comparison with insitu data and finally compile a validation report. Users and a dedicated Validation Bureau, review and assess the services based on these reports as well as on users’ experiences during service delivery.

Finally, a comprehensive validation report is compiled comprising the following content:
1. Service provider validation reports,
2. User assessments,
3. Validation Bureau reviews and
4. Summary and conclusions compiled by the Validation Bureau.

The overall process is implemented on a web based tool, using a workflow application to facilitate the reports circulation and assessment during the different validation steps.

User training materials

Aquamar will propose training materials :

  • The product guides: these will provide a general overview of AquaMar and general remote sensing principles, as well as more detailed information for each of the individual product services.
  • Worksheets: a downloadable set of HTML worksheets and sample data will allow Users to get “hands on” with the data and train them in general data analysis techniques. The example worksheets will also make use of the bespoke tools developed within the AquaMar project.
  • Forum: an online web forum is available for Users to interact with the scientific community, as well as the service providers.
  • User Workshop 2013: The workshop will allow a review of the User requirements for each service and address any issues or queries they have.

More about MarCoast & Aquamar