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Strategic partnership for improved basin-scale water quality parameter retrieval from optical signatures

Final Report Summary - WATERS (Strategic partnership for improved basin-scale water quality parameter retrieval from optical signatures)

Publishable Summary of the WaterS Final Report

Summary description of project objectives
WaterS (www.mywaters.eu) focused on creating conditions for strategic dynamic partnerships in the form of long-term cooperation between three excellent research groups with proven high competence and capacity in the field of remote sensing of optically complex waters (OCW) from Tartu Observatory, (Estonia), Stockholm University (Sweden), Finnish Environment Institute (Finland), and three successful and quickly developing enterprises with unique complementary expertise and tools (Water Insight, The Netherlands; Brockmann Consult, Germany; Brockmann Geomatics, Sweden). Advanced research programme of WaterS consortium was realized trough the transfer of knowledge programme.

The main objectives of the research & technology programme were development of ground-based techniques for the observation of OCW, remote sensing processing algorithms specific for OCW, incorporate these to the novel products for ecological mapping as well as remote sensing tools to improve of the quality of EO services.

The main objective of the transfer of knowledge programme was introducing the state-of-the-art from experienced and competent researchers to operational services in the industry. This was made through development of new open-service concepts by exploiting complementary competences and synergy by bring together academic and industry partners to learn and get familiar with different traditions, cultural aspects and skill requirements.

Final results and their impact

Main tool of the project was the researchers’ mobility. All together almost 250 working month were carried out during the secondment of 27 and recruitment of 5 engineers and researchers. 15 different type of joint events were organized including training seminars, field campaigns, workshops and conferences. Two follow up international projects were started as direct results of WaterS collaboration.

During four year consortium has combined lessons learned from optical system of new hand-held instruments with specifications on close-range spectroradiometric water quality monitoring instrument, build up automated ship-board reflectance measurement unit including software, prepared reports on characterization of optical properties of aerosol in Baltic Region and water remote sensing users requirement. Developed outlines and specifications for software tools and functionality for the open source BEAM framework. We have our own repository and Knowledge Base as well as Database about optical properties. As final results also Market development plan was drafted.

WaterS has added significantly to the technology of monitoring OCW. Europe’s list of achievements in space research and applications have largely delivered through collaboration in European Space Agency and through national efforts. The transfer of theses capacities to the public sector and policy makers need to be realized through new open-service concepts including the full Research and Technology chain (research-development-customer/user) by exploiting complementary competences and synergy. As the inland and near-coastal waters are under the strongest anthropogenic impact, they need especially better and more cost-effective way to monitor their ecological status processes.

WaterS has stimulated young peoples to take profession of a researcher and encourages European researchers for life-long learning and career development; improved knowledge transfer between academic and industry sectors


Group of Waters researchers in Tartu Observatory, coordinator of WaterS, in Estonia during final conference about Challenges in Remote Sensing of Inland Waters 2nd April 2014 (Please see attached the formatted text file with illustration)

Waters has been able to link basic research in ocean optics and ocean colour remote sensing of academic research organisations with the work of evolving enterprises, which develop adequate technologies for the exploitation of these research results, and by this combination enable a much larger community in science, administration and industry to benefit from these advanced technologies.

The consortium established a strong link with the European Space Agency (ESA) in particular for the utilisation of data of the Imaging Spectrometer MERIS on board ENVISAT and its next generation Earth Observation satellites - Sentinels. Therefore the research results will have the broader impact and will be useful for the EU Copernicus programme. For operational application new approaches for ecological mapping have been developed, e.g. for including information about the water quality in a GIS. This is of particular interest for the Water Framework Directive of the EU.