Arnold Dekker
Earth Observation and Informatics Transformational Capability Platform
CSIRO Land and Water

Paul DiGiacomo
Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division (SOCD)
NOAA/NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Steven Greb
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Research
Bureau of Science Services, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Scientific and Programmatic Background and Rationale

Water quality is a measure of the chemical, physical and biological condition of water relative to human and ecosystem requirements. Available freshwater resources are emerging as a limiting factor not only in quantity but also in quality for human development and ecological stability. Nutrient over-enrichment (eutrophication) is a rapidly growing environmental crisis in freshwater and coastal ecosystems.

Globally, water quality monitoring is receiving inadequate attention particularly in developing countries and in countries in transition where existing water quality monitoring networks, expertise on water quality management and laboratories for water quality assessments are all deficient. The measurement of water quality variables via radiometric measurements of the water’s optical properties has rapidly grown over recent years. Improvements in algorithms and product development, sensor technology and maturity, and data accessibility and provision have led to demonstrated confidence in remotely sensed data with potential applications to water resources management. However, to date, management agencies have been slow to embrace satellite derived measurements even though important parameters such as chlorophyll, suspended solids, light attenuation, and colored dissolved organic matter have been quantified with required accuracies.

A recent internal US Environmental Protection Agency survey (Schaeffer et al, 2013) queried potential users’ perceptions and found concerns centered on cost, product accuracy, data continuity and programmatic support. Their recommendation was initiating open and effective discussions between scientists, stakeholders, policy makes and environmental managers. This working group seeks to build a stronger linkage between the water resources management end users and data providers to fully realize current and future Earth Observation (EO) products.

Goal and Vision

To provide a strategic plan for incorporation of current and future EO information into national and international near-coastal and inland water quality monitoring efforts. Promote best practices, coordination of efforts and partnerships, and propose specific new linkages between data providers and data end users. Ultimately the intent is to work toward implementation of a global water quality monitoring service under the auspices of GEO. See also the website of the related Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Inland and Coastal Water Quality working group at:

Terms of Reference

  • Assess current knowledge regarding coastal and inland water quality and associated use of remote sensing data.
  • Identify user needs and requirements, including future mission requirements.
  • Assess existing, and identify new, space-based and in situ observing capabilities.
  • Identify supporting research and development activities.
  • Identify best practices, and new and improved data streams and products.
  • User engagement and outreach: Develop a strategy to strengthen linkages between data providers and end users, and coordinate with GEO and its Blue Planet Task to advance development of a global coastal and inland water monitoring service.

Working Group Members (in alphabetical order)

  • Stewart Bernard, CSIR, South Africa
  • Caren Binding, Environment Canada, Canada
  • Carsten Brockman, CB Associates, Germany
  • Arnold Dekker (Co-Chair), CSIRO, Australia
  • Paul DiGiacomo (Co-Chair,) NOAA, USA
  • Mark Dowell, JRC, Italy
  • Steven Greb (Co-Chair), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, USASteve Groom, Plymouth Marine
  • Laboratory, UK
  • Milton Kampel, INPE, Brazil
  • Chris Mannaerts, ITC, Netherlands
  • Yuji Sakuno, Hiroshima University, Japan
  • Blake Schaeffer, US Environmental Protection Agency, USA
  • Richard Stumpf, NOAA, USA
  • Andrew Tyler, University of Stirling, UK
  • Menghua Wang, NOAA NESDIS, USA

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