Title: Atlas of Global Surface Water Dynamics
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2020
JRC N°: JRC119892
ISBN: 978-92-76-16299-5 (online),978-92-76-16298-8 (print)
ISSN: 1831-9424 (online),1018-5593 (print)
Other Identifiers: EUR 30098 EN
OP KJ-NA-30098-EN-N (online),KJ-NA-30098-EN-C (print)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC119892
DOI: 10.2760/20986
Type: Books
Abstract: It is impossible to overstate the importance of freshwater in our daily lives – for proof, try going without it for any length of time. Surface waterbodies (lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, estuaries… it doesn't matter what name they go under) are particularly important because they come into direct contact with us and our biophysical environment. But our knowledge concerning where and when waterbodies might be found was, until recently, surprisingly sparse. The paucity of information was because trying to map a moving target is actually very difficult – and waterbodies undeniably move, in both geographical space and time. By 2013 the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA were making petabyte scale archives of satellite imagery freely available, archives that covered the entire planet's surface and stretched back decades. Other's such as the European Commission / European Space Agency Copernicus programme were also putting full free and open data access policies into place, and Google's Earth Engine had become a mature, powerful cloud-based platform for processing very large geospatial datasets. Back in 2013 a small team working at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre were looking at ways satellite imagery could be used to capture surface waterbody dynamics, and create new maps that accurately incorporated time dimensions. Concurrently the Google Earth Engine team were focussing their massive computational capabilities on major issues facing humanity, such as deforestation, food security, climate change - and water management. The two teams came together in a partnership based not on financial transactions but on a mutual exchange of complementary capabilities, and devoted thousands of person hours and thousands of CPU years into turning petabytes of Landsat satellite imagery into unique, validated surface water maps, first published in 2016, and made available to everyone through a dedicated web portal, the Global Surface Water Explorer. Since then satellites have continued to image the Earth, surface water has continued to change and the JRC Goole Earth Engine partnership has continued to work on improving our knowledge of surface water dynamics and making sure this knowledge benefits as many people as possible. This Atlas is part of the outreach; it is not a guide to the Global Surface Water Explorer, it is not a Google Earth Engine tutorial (though if it inspires you to visit either of these resources then it has achieved one of its objectives), but it is a stand-alone window into how people and nature affect, and are affected by the 4.46 million km2 of the Earth's landmass that have been under water at some time over the past 35 years.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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