Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


INSEA — Result In Brief

Project ID: 12336
Funded under: FP6-AEROSPACE
Country: Portugal

Satellites monitor quality of coastal waters

Europe's highly productive inshore waters are under threat, but help is at hand from an EU initiative that uses satellite technology to help protect this vulnerable environment.
Satellites monitor quality of coastal waters
Coastal waters are extremely dynamic environments influenced by ocean currents and the ingress of freshwater, which brings nutrients material from the land. High levels of nutrients can cause eutrophication, resulting in excessive algal growth, known as blooms, and a reduction in oxygen levels. Eutrophication and its effect on seawater quality are of growing concern to Europe's national environment agencies, local authorities and residents.

The INSEA project developed techniques for creating reliable ecological models which describe the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients in coastal ecosystems. The methodology used combines data from satellite remote sensing and in situ measurements. Due to their highly changeable nature over space and time coastal waters are difficult to accurately monitor. However, the use of satellites for remote sensing has proved valuable in monitoring these areas, particularly in situations where local data is lacking.

Remote sensing activities carried out by INSEA involved enhancing the quality of altimeter data, which was used to measure the satellite's altitude. Observations of sea colour were conducted to determine levels of chlorophyll a, a photosynthetic pigment found in algae. X-track software, a simple tracking program, was improved with new algorithms and geographical correction terms, such as for tidal movements. In addition regional models were created to replace global models, as they are more accurate. The X-track data was used to validate models or is added to models.

Increased computer power and IT skills have meant that valuable new information is now available to key decision makers and other data users. The models developed by the INSEA consortium can be used to support coastal zone management initiatives and help preserve these valuable ecosystems.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top