The world has gained 115,000 km2 of water and 173,000 km2 of land over the past 30 years. The Dutch research institute Deltares developed an open tool that analyses satellite data and visualises land and water changes around the globe.
First global-scale tool that shows water and land conversion
The Deltares Aqua Monitor is the first global scale tool that shows at a 30-meter resolution where water is converted into land and vice versa. The Aqua Monitor uses freely available satellite data and Google Earth Engine – a platform for planetary-scale scientific analysis of geospatial datasets. And it is now open to the general public. The tool shows that globally, between 1985 and 2015, an area of about 173 000 km2, about the size of Washington State, has been converted to land and an area of 115 000 km2 has been converted into water. Documented, as well as undocumented changes due to man-made interventions, natural variability, and climate change are now revealed.
Big data at anyone’s fingertips
Big satellite data analytics at anyone’s fingertips may have strong implications on monitoring capacities and associated actions. At very local scale, a civilian can now assess without any expert assistance, if his house is threatened by coastal erosion. At a regional scale, a downstream riparian state can monitor from year to year, if upstream neighbours are establishing new impoundments. Finally, at a global scale, global agencies such as the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction can monitor the appearance of new, possibly flood hazard reducing, reservoir storage capacity.
Learn more: Deltares Aqua Monitor