Leading scientific sites announced the creation of The Atlas of Global Surface Water Dynamics by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC).
The Atlas brings together 35 years of satellite data that illustrates the changes to the Earth’s water surface – lakes, wetlands, and rivers, showing the consequences of climate change and human activities on our water resources.
The project started in 2013 with a small team of JRC scientists to map the history of surface water presence on Earth.
“Working in collaboration with Google Earth Engine, the JRC team processed some 4 million satellite images from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the EU’s Copernicus program.
In 2016, the JRC and Google Earth Engine made public the product of the partnership, the Global Surface Water Explorer (GSWE).
The Global Surface Water Explorer is an interactive online platform that maps the location, distribution , and changes in the world’s surface waters over the past decades. The platform is updated annually.
In 2019, the GSWE was adopted as a basis for the UN Environment’s assessment of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goal’s target 6.6.1 concerning freshwater ecosystems.
Based on the online platform, the Atlas of Global Surface Water Dynamics presents the wealth of knowledge gathered by the scientific team in an easily accessible format that is readable to everyone.
Through a series of maps, case studies, and beautiful images, this Atlas brings the reader on a journey through some of the world’s most fascinating examples of surface water changes, which highlight the beauty and fragility of the environment and the need to preserve this precious resource.”
The importance of water in our daily lives cannot be overstated, and surface water bodies is a critical source of water for agriculture, industrial, and domestic use. Because water is dynamic, waterbodies move, and changes over time it is always difficult to map it accurately.
By documenting the 35 years’ worth of changes in surface water resources, it will improve our understanding of the effects of climate change and our human actions and will help in decision making, environmental actions, and policies aimed at sustainable management of surface water resources, the article says.
Click the link below to start exploring the water surfaces map: