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Author Topic: Shedding light on Australia’s lakes and reservoirs  (Read 1276 times)

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Shedding light on Australia’s lakes and reservoirs
« on: October 21, 2012, 05:31:04 PM »
Shedding light on Australia’s lakes and reservoirs -  CSIRO 18 October 2012

Australia’s lakes and reservoirs will come under the spotlight over the next few months when a team of CSIRO scientists will measure their optical properties.

18 October 2012 The measurements are part of a project that CSIRO postdoctoral fellow, Erin Hestir, hopes will lead to the development of a continental scale product for assessing Australia’s inland waters from space.

Dr Hestir and her team are measuring the optical properties of Australian lakes and reservoirs in order to build tools that can be used to identify trends in inland surface water quality and the response of inland water systems to extreme events (such as fire, floods and drought), land use and climate changes.

Remote sensing studies of inland water quality to date have been limited to local or regional assessments.

Dr Hestir’s project aims to develop continental scale earth observation products of inland water quality from satellite imagery over Australia. This involves measuring the optical properties of inland water systems and comparing them to remote sensing signals from space.

The project team will measure the absorption, attenuation and backscattering of light in reservoirs and lakes in Queensland and the Murray Darling Basin in NSW. These measurements will be used to model the remote sensing signal (the colour of the water surface determined by the amount of reflected light at different wavelengths) that can be seen from space.

“By measuring the light absorption and backscattering properties of reservoirs such as Lake Wivenhoe in Queensland, we can understand the complexity of conditions that give the lake its colour,” says Dr Hestir. “This understanding will help us build the tools needed to estimate suspended matter and algal concentrations from space.”

In addition to the below surface water measurements, a handheld radiometer will be used to measure the remote sensing reflectance above the water. This provides a bridge between the measurements in the water and those received from the satellite.

The team will also be collecting water samples and analysing them for chlorophyll, suspended sediment and coloured dissolved organic matter back in the laboratory. By relating the water samples with the remote sensing signals, the team will be able estimate water quality from space at regional to continental scales.

The intention of this project is to provide a cost-efficient tool that can be used by water managers to monitor the condition of Australia’s inland water systems and reduce the requirement for repeat travel, often to remote areas, and the need for costly laboratory analyses.

The products developed from this project will also be used to demonstrate the capability of the upcoming European Space Agency Sentinel satellite mission to be launched in 2013.

This project is supported by CSIRO Land and Water and the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship.

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