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Commercial service platform for user-relevant coastal water monitoring services based on Earth observation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CoastObs (Commercial service platform for user-relevant coastal water monitoring services based on Earth observation)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-10-31

Coastal zones are very productive areas, offering many valuable habitats and ecosystems services and attracting human settlements and activities. The intensive concentration of population and excessive exploitation of natural resources puts high pressure on coastal ecosystems leading to biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, pollution as well as conflicts between potential uses and space competition. Several European directives aim at sustainable management of coastal waters, retaining or restoring a high ecological status and safeguarding ecosystem services. Increasing pressure and stricter regulations increase the need for efficient monitoring solutions. Where traditional in situ sampling is insufficient to characterise the highly dynamic coastal environments, Earth Observation (EO) provides a synoptic view and frequent coverage. With the launch of the Copernicus Sentinel satellites, operational water quality services become a business opportunity.

The overall objective of CoastObs is to develop a commercial downstream service platform for monitoring and reporting of coastal water quality based on Earth observation. Work is ongoing to develop and validate innovative EO-based products based mainly on Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3: monitoring of sublittoral habitats and intertidal areas, phytoplankton size classes, primary production, and detection of harmful algae. A particular focus of the project lies on turning the satellite-derived geophysical data layers into higher-level information products that satisfy the users’ information needs, such as trend analysis, indicators for environmental reporting or integration with predictive models. To ensure that the products developed are of added value to the users, CoastObs is working closely with public and private organisations from various sectors (water management authorities, aquaculture producers and organisations, port authorities). CoastObs is establishing sustainable supply chains that can be directly integrated into the users’ systems.

An efficient data structure is being set up that will allow to derive new information products and create new services with less effort than before. The combination of more efficient product generation and multiple use of the same satellite data will lower the cost of services for the users and therefore stimulate their uptake.
In the first project year, the project focussed on user requirements, method development and technical preparation. The main achievements of the this period are:

* Establishing the dialogue with the users: User meetings were held with 18 users, in which an initial assessment of user requirements has been performed. Based on the expertise of the partners and the discussions with the users, an initial product and service portfolio was developed.
* Product innovation: Development is well under way to implement innovative EO products to meet the user needs. Algorithm testing and validation has begun using historic datasets (e.g. MERIS) and the first season of field campaigns (2018) for seagrass mapping, phytoplankton size classes, primary production and detection of harmful algal blooms. To support this, we have formulated a validation plan as well as outlined a method for validation of atmospheric correction (AC) for S2 and S3 data to identify the best performing AC over the regions of interest. The first higher level products have also been defined and are being implemented.
* Technical preparation and implementation: A technical implementation plan has been developed based on the user requirements, the current infrastructure and a review of available software and services.

Ongoing activities that have started at the beginning of the project and will continue throughout its life time are dissemination and exploitation of project results. In the first few months of the project, the project website and social media accounts have been set up and are being continuously updated. Also, various dissemination materials such as a project leaflet, general poster, banners and postcards have been produced and the first newsletter has been issued. CoastObs has been presented at a number of scientific and trade conferences and partners have had numerous discussions with users and potential user groups. An initial business and marketing plan has been set up.
"In recent years, research has been under way to exploit the possibilities offered by the Copernicus satellites for the creation of new products, some of which are highly relevant to coastal zone management. Building on the specific expertise of the scientific partners in CoastObs, several of these products including seagrass/macroalgae mapping, primary production, phytoplankton size classes and harmful algae blooms are being tested and validated with the aim of progressing from a research topic to an operationally available product.

In earlier projects, a common mismatch between the products generated and the information needs of the users has been identified as a major factor impeding the take up of Earth observation into operational water management. Bridging this gap is an important activity of the CoastObs project. Based on the analysis of the users’ spatial, temporal and content-level information needs, the basic products will be aggregated into innovative higher-level products. These products can consist of (a combination of) spatial and temporal aggregation, classification and integration with additional data and tools, such as growth models for shellfish.

EO data are multi-dimensional and of significant size, therefore posing a number of challenges regarding their management. In contrast to other ""big data"" applications, traditionally file-based implementations are used for managing raster data. Deriving products from such file-based systems by multi-dimensional aggregation is time -consuming in both implementation and execution. Over the last years, data cubes providing support for efficient storage and querying have matured to the point that operational use is within reach. CoastObs is implementing a data cube solution to make the process of producing derived products faster and more efficient, therefore lowering the production cost.

By establishing sustainable supply for innovative EO value-added products with targeted client communities and demonstrated commercial value, CoastObs will provide national, regional, local, public and private water managers with the opportunity to efficiently monitor and report water quality and to take measures to improve the water quality. Long-term large datasets with a synoptic view provide the possibilities to identify sources of water quality problems and take measures to remedy the situation."
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CoastObs process
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