Satellite monitoring of Scotland’s inland waters

20 February 2018

Article: 52/705

The University of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences is working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to investigate the feasibility of introducing earth observation technology to its day-to-day operations in a bid to improve the quality and efficiency of water sampling. The novel approach uses the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite to identify potential contaminants in bodies of water, such as algal concentrations, harmful algal blooms, and mineral and organic matter.

The University of Stirling currently leads the GloboLakes project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which has established the world’s first satellite-based global lake surveillance system. However, this new feasibility study will allow scientists to understand how the technology may benefit end users, in this case SEPA, in developing the approach as an operational capability and, in turn, improving their approach to assessing lake water quality.

Reflectance measurements, taken from the satellite, will be used to estimate concentrations of chlorophyll-a, in Scottish lochs. The data will then help to assess risk to water quality status and allow SEPA to better target and enhance their sampling efforts. This method of monitoring should provide a more detailed and representative view of whole bodies of water, when compared to current sampling techniques that typically assess water quality in samples taken close to shore.

Sources: SEPA Media Release, 13 February 2018 and University of Stirling News Release, 12 February 2018