ETC-UMA launches new technologies applied to ecosystem knowledge

Built on the Google Earth Engine cloud computing platform, the new wetland monitoring system based on remote sensing data, developed by ETC-UMA and presented in April 2023 at the National Centre for Environmental Education (CENEAM by its acronym in Spanish) in Valsaín, can process a massive amount of data and return updated results on the state and conditions of wetlands. 

Developed in the frame of the LifeWatch INDALO project cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the study of biodiversity and global change in Andalucia, this new system provides useful data for wetlands assessment, monitoring and management decisions. In accordance to Juan Blas González of the Andalusian Agency for Environment and Water, partner in the project, “A system like this allows us to know in real time key indicators of the state of our wetlands without the need to develop new infrastructures, so that managers can quickly access information and help in decision-making, especially in times of drought.”  

 The use of satellite remote sensing images combined with other geolocated data and workflow methodologies for an agile and efficient processing are at the basis of the analysis and development of this type of tools to know in real time the status of our ecosystems.

Christoph Schröder, Geographical Information Systems specialist at ETC-UMA, adds: “The Development of the methodology for the production of a wetlands’ probability map for Spain based on remote sensing presented in Valsaín is another example of how the new technologies are helping to better know our surroundings and so, to have enough information to be able to manage on time and mitigate future crises”.

As Gabriel Martorell, technical responsible for this wetland monitoring system at ETC-UMA, explains: “The tool calculates the monthly evolution of water, vegetation and water quality indicators within the wetland delimitation defined by the Wetland Inventory of Andalusia (IHA). Then, represents cartographic data such as the evolution of surface water over time (identifying permanent, seasonal or temporary water) or the flood frequency, and gets the monthly evolution of the indicators outside the wetland, in a delimited hydroecological region, all in maps, graphs or data tables”.

The participation of ETC-UMA in the meeting organized on April 19-21, 2023, in Madrid by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO) is essential for the exchange with other initiatives and institutions and to agree on monitoring strategies and possible early warning systems on the state of wetlands. Christoph Schröder concludes: “We have the science and technology to be able to avoid situations like the one generated in Doñana. With the experience gained at Andalusian and national level through this work, we hope from ETC-UMA to provide solutions for better water management both in Spain and in other Mediterranean countries”.


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