Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


EARTH2OBSERVE Report Summary

Project ID: 603608
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EARTH2OBSERVE (Global Earth Observation for integrated water resource assessment)

Project Context and Objectives:
eartH2Observe brings together the findings from European FP projects DEWFORA, GLOWASIS, WATCH, GEOWOW and others. It integrates available global earth observations (EO), in-situ datasets and models to construct a global water resources re-analysis dataset of significant length (several decades). The resulting data allows for improved insights on the full extent of available water and existing pressures on global water resources in all parts of the water cycle. The project will support efficient and globally consistent water management and decision making by providing comprehensive multi-scale (regional, continental and global) water resources observations. It will test new EO data sources, extend existing processing algorithms and combine data from multiple satellite missions in order to improve the overall resolution and reliability of EO data included in the re-analysis dataset. The usability and operational value of the developed data will be verified and demonstrated in a number of case-studies across the world that aim to improve the efficiency of regional water distribution. The case-studies will be conducted together with local end-users and stakeholders. Regions of interest cover multiple continents, a variety of hydrological, climatological and governance conditions and differ in degree of data richness (e.g. the Mediterranean and Baltic region, Ethiopia, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh). The data will be disseminated through an open data Water Cycle Integrator portal to ensure increased availability of global water resources information on both regional and global scale. The data portal will be the European contributor to the existing GEOSS water cycle platforms and communities. Project results will be actively disseminated using a combination of traditional methods (workshops, papers, website and conferences) and novel methods such as E-learning courses and webinars that promote the use of the developed dataset.

The eartH2Objective overall objective has been divided and refined in 7 specific objectives to be pursued during the project: (1) Validate EO products based on end-user needs and metrics ensuring the value of the project’s final datasets for local and regional decision making. (2) Test new EO parameters and data sources in order to improve monitoring capabilities in terms of resolution and reliability and to explore techniques for synergetic use of datasets from multiple satellite missions. (3) Integrate in-situ data on groundwater, surface water, water quality, soil moisture, precipitation and evaporation with EO-driven models resulting in a model and multi-data global water resources reanalysis. (4) Assess error propagation through large scale water resource modelling, using in-situ data from data-rich validation sites to be able to provide the project’s datasets to end-users together with their associated error characteristics. (5) Develop a global reanalysis of water resources that supports efficient water management and decision making by boosting the availability of information on freshwater resources worldwide. (6) Demonstrate the usefulness of the integrated water resources time series at the operational level in regional and local case studies. (7) Ensure the results will become part of the GEOSS Data-CORE encyclopedia, connecting to the GEOSS Water Cycle Integrator (WCI) initiatives.

Project Results:
A selection of main achievements of the eartH2Observe project in the first 36 months is described in the paragraphs below.

Improved EO datasets from WP3 have been made available to the project participants and others interested groups on the project web portal (WP7) and are now used for error characterization activities (WP4), set up of the Water Resource Reanalysis Tier 2 (WP5), and for the activity in the case studies (WP6). The EO datasets have proven to be very instrumental for data assimilation, validation, error characterization and analysis in data sparse areas.

In the second 18 months of the project WP5 prepared the WRR2 dataset, which will include two streams: a) baseline for the 1979 to 2014 period and b) a multi-forcing ensemble using four satellite products for the period 2000 to 2013. The dataset includes several enhancements such as: i) higher spatial resolution (from 0.5x0.5 to 0.25x0.25), ii) improved meteorological forcing (downscaling and precipitation), iii) use of data assimilation and iv) enhanced representation of different water cycle processes by the models.

The Water Cycle Integrator - the project’s data portal - contains the latest releases of eartH2Observe EO and WRR datasets. During this reporting period it has been extended in WP7 with several user oriented features such as area of interest definition with geo polygons, additional plotting and analysis tools and collaboration tools that have already been successfully used for the education of students.
The eartH2Observe datasets are now extensively being tested in the different case-studies (WP6) and a paper describing the WRR1 datasest is now under review. Overall the applied global and local models have provided reasonable discharge estimates for moderate to large basins, especially when (1) the models are forced with satellite or merged precipitation products and (2) the models are calibrated with satellite soil moisture or discharge observations. Specific satellite retrievals and global model outputs have proven their added value in the case-studies, such as water quality maps (Estionia), ground water recharge estimates (New-Zealand), reservoir levels (Morocco) and soil moisture (Australia). The performance of the reanalysis precipitation has shown limitations over complex mountainous terrain and for quantification of severe precipitation events on sub-daily time-steps compared to satellite derived precipitation.
Furthermore, considerable progress has been made with the error characterization of the different datasets which is vital for assimilation into models. Results from detailed studies in Spain and Portugal have been generalized and are now feeding back into the second reanalysis.

For relevant indicators identified in global policies, the multi-model ensemble of the Tier-1 dataset has been used to evaluate the uncertainty in calculating indices for amongst others aridity and sustainable water use. Results show significant uncertainty in the calculated indices, though that uncertainty is primarily relevant in climatic transition zones. The Mediterranean basin is an example of such a transition zone.

Dissemination activities are intensified. The first eLearning courses are online. There is a researchGate project page with over 60 followers and more than 400 reads, the facebook account of eartH2Observe has over 2000 followers and attention to the project has been increased demonstrated by 11100 google hits for unique pages and 88 papers on google-scolar. The coordinator and project partners have been actively disseminating project datasets and results to the public, the scientific community as well as to policy makers and water managers and have been invited several times to be present and to give a presentation at conferences and meetings.

Potential Impact:
The expected final results of the project will include: (1) A global water resources reanalysis dataset; a result of integrating available earth observations, in-situ datasets and models. (2) An increased uptake of (European) earth observation datasets into operational use by water managers due to the better availability via the portal, the release of down-scaled versions of these products, validation of these products based on end- user needs and close interaction with selected stakeholders. (3) A better understanding of the global water cycle by the combination of the water resources reanalysis and the assessment of the error propagation in large scale water resources modelling. (4) A significant new EU contribution to the GEOSS Data-CORE and (5) finally an enhanced capability of European SME’s to develop and improve services and products in the domain of environmental assessment and monitoring using EO technology supported by the project’s free and open data licenses.

The project will have an impact on the increase of open access availability of information products and services for monitoring of regional and global water resources within an advanced Earth Observation system. These products and services will support international agreements on water management and European Water policies such as the EU Water Framework Directive, the Floods Directive, EU water accounts, the UN GAR5 and the implementation of SEEAW and Ecosystem Capital Water Accounts by the EEA. By specifically validating the developed datasets and products against end-user needs in international case studies, eartH2Observe ensures that datasets can be made operational and that they are of value for local and regional scale water resources assessments, especially in data-scarce areas and trans-boundary river basins. Herewith, the project will provide the required knowledge for efficient water management, which promotes efficient distribution of water at the regional level and strengthens the international role of Europe in the exploitation of EO for water resources assessments.

By providing the integrated datasets and services in an OGC and INSPIRE compliant web-based data portal to local water authorities, scientists, NGOs and other end-users the project will ensure an increased availability and active distribution of information and services for monitoring global and regional water resources, as well as for prediction of water resources under changing climatic conditions and water demands. A number of consortium partners are involved in Water Cycle Integrator initiatives such as GEWEX and the GEOSS community. New links and synergies are being made with other Water Cycle Integrator initiatives in Africa and Asia, the CEOS Water Portal, the Australian EOS portal (and OzEWEX) and the New Zealand SMART portal. This ensures that the eartH2Observe data portal will be a significant contribution to a European GEOSS Water Cycle Integrator (WCI).

By working with SMEs within the project, eartH2Observe will help SMEs to develop and improve services and products in the domain of environmental assessment and monitoring using EO technology. The increased understanding of various aspects and limitations of monitoring of global water resources together with the practical experiences from regional case studies will enhance the competitiveness of European SMEs. Furthermore, a Marketplace of Ideas will be supported by the project to evaluate opportunities arising for new business and job creation matching the eartH2Observe products with innovative ideas for capitalization. This is also supported by the project’s campaigning for free and open data licenses that allow SME’s to build products and services on top of the open data.

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