Global Observatory of Lake Responses to Environmental Change (GloboLakes)

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Plymouth Marine Lab

Abstract

There are around 304 million lakes globally. These provide essential resources for human survival and are an important component of global biogeochemical cycles. Lakes are also fragile systems that are sensitive to multiple pressures including nutrient enrichment, climate change and hydrological modification, making them important 'sentinels' of environmental perturbation. However, traditional monitoring has only produced data from a tiny fraction of the global population of lakes and disentangling the causes of change requires consistently-produced data from a large number of lakes, along with measurements of possible causes of change. Satellite observations (remote sensing) and the establishment of a global lake observatory would produce a step-change in our ability to detect and attribute the causes of changes in lakes world-wide. This is now possible for three reasons: (1) the improved wavebands, spatial resolution and frequency of data collection from satellite sensors is now sufficient to monitor inland waters; (2) formulae to correct for atmospheric properties and to convert the detected reflected light to useful lake properties have been developed; and (3) computing power has increased to the point that allows near real time and archived information from satellites to be processed. GloboLakes will analyse 20 years of data from more than 1000 large lakes across the globe to determine 'what controls the differential sensitivity of lakes to environmental perturbation'. This is an ambitious project that is only possible by bringing together a consortium of scientists with complementary skills. These include expertise in remote sensing of freshwaters and processing large volumes of satellite images, collation and analysis of large-scale environmental data, environmental statistics and the assessment of data uncertainty, freshwater ecology and mechanisms of environmental change and the ability to produce lake models to forecast future lake conditions. The eight objectives of GloboLakes are to:

(i) develop remote sensing algorithms to estimate lake biogeochemical and physical parameters;
(ii) make these algorithms operational and process satellite data;
(iii) compile integrated spatio-temporal information on climatic and catchment data for >1000 lakes;
(iv) integrate data and assess uncertainty in data sources;
(v) detect spatial and temporal patterns in lake water quality;
(vi) attribute the causes of lake response to environmental conditions;
(vii) forecast lake sensitivity to environmental change;
(viii) apply data to lake management and the monitoring of freshwater resources.

The project will focus on the retrieval of surface water temperature as this has a fundamental effect on lake ecology, the concentration of coloured dissolved organic matter and suspended solids that derive largely from the catchment, the abundance of phytoplankton measured as the concentration of the pigment, chlorophyll a, and the abundance of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that can potentially be toxic. Knowledge of the conditions of lakes and their sensitivity to change is also extremely valuable for the management of lakes and reservoirs and GloboLakes will provide information and products specifically for environmental managers. A satellite due to be launched during the course of the project, called Sentinel 2, will provide even greater spatial resolution allowing data to be collected and exploited from even smaller lakes. This will be investigated by GloboLakes and incorporated into the framework of a global lake observatory.

Planned Impact

In the UK, the main direct beneficiaries of the project would be the UK environment agencies (EA, SEPA, NIEA) and water utilities who all have a statutory requirement to ensure safe surface waters for public recreation and water supply for drinking and irrigation. The UK environment agencies also have monitoring requirements for the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which include monitoring the frequency and severity of algal blooms. The operational platform to be developed could lead to significant economic benefits for these organisations as it would provide more frequent and much greater geographic coverage of monitoring at a lower cost. The main UK beneficiaries (all UK environment agencies and Scottish Water) have all been involved with the project team developing the research needs through a previous NERC research grant (NE/E009328) and through co-membership of the UK Technical Advisory Group for the Water Framework Directive. They have all indicated full engagement and support (time, logistics and data) for the proposed research and will form the core of the Project Advisory Board.

More indirectly, the project is of benefit to other organisations and individuals who manage public access to surface waters as it would lead to more rapid dissemination of water quality results and more accurate warnings of algal blooms and associated health risks to the public and livestock. This includes relevant National Park authorities (English Lake District, Loch Lomond & Trossachs, the Broads Authority) and health authorities.

Scientific benefits are described elsewhere under "Academic beneficiaries", but a key to wider dissemination is the commitment from international scientists within the remote sensing, water quality and limnology communities. This commitment is illustrated by the letters of support and include scientists across Europe, Africa, China, Australia and the USA.

Wider dissemination of the project and its finding will be achieved through a dedicated project website which will provide both non-technical information aimed at the general public as well as information for a scientific audience. More targetted dissemination will be supported by the Communications and Media Department at University of Stirling, working alongside those of the consortium partners. We anticipate regular publications in popular and peer-reviewed science press throughout the lifetime of the project. More specifically, we will target communication of the project results through regular project newsletters sent to key users with responsibilities or interests in monitoring the state of the environment (UK conservation agencies, relevant National Park authorities (English Lake District, Loch Lomond & Trossachs, the Broads Authority), the European Environment Agency and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

There are a number of additional end-users who will benefit from hearing the final outcomes of this project, including the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish Government, Department for International Development, Department of Health - Global Health Programme, and international organisations including the WHO, UNESCO and a number of international aid charities. As the project progresses, with operational tools and results, we plan additional focused direct engagement with these organizations and will invite them to the final end-user workshop. Towards the end of the project, we will highlight the value of the platform and the science underpinning it at a global stage, through attendance in Stockholm at World Water Week. Similarly, as the tool becomes operational with validated results, we will publish an annual summary each year on World Water Day of the water status of 1000 global lakes.
 
Description (CERTO) - Copernicus Evolution - Research for Transitional-water Observation
Amount € 2,843,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 870349 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2022
 
Description (MONOCLE) - Multiscale Observation Networks for Optical monitoring of Coastal waters, Lakes and Estuaries
Amount € 4,999,862 (EUR)
Funding ID 776480 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2018 
End 01/2022
 
Description (Water-ForCE) - Water scenarios For Copernicus Exploitation
Amount € 2,999,575 (EUR)
Funding ID 101004186 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2021 
End 12/2023
 
Description Copernicus Global Land Service
Amount € 2,500,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Department Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 07/2016 
End 07/2020
 
Description EC FP7 EartH2Observe
Amount £300,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 603608 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2014 
End 12/2017
 
Description EC FP7 INFORM
Amount € 160,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2014 
End 12/2017
 
Description EC H2020 EOMORES
Amount € 2,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 730066 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2019
 
Description ESA CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVE - Lakes Essential Climate Variable
Amount € 1,748,627 (EUR)
Organisation European Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2022
 
Description H2020-INFRADEV-2016-2 DANUBIUS PP
Amount € 4,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 739562 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2019
 
Description NERC Innovation
Amount £153,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R014965/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 06/2020
 
Description Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS)
Amount € 6,922,187 (EUR)
Funding ID 6922187 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 03/2016 
End 02/2020
 
Title Bio-optical in situ dataset 
Description In situ optical data including absorption, scattering and backscattering collected during Globolakes in situ campaigns over three years. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data being used to improve satellite algorithms by other groups in the project. 
 
Title Code for insitu optical data processing in Globolakes 
Description Code used to produce the Globolakes in situ optical dataset for absorption, scattering and backscattering for sampling during the project. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The processing code has been used by the other researchers allowing them to process the in situ data during a cruise 
 
Title Global data set on lakes 
Description • Dataset of remotely sensed water quality of 1000 lakes worldwide delivered to partners in NERC-GloboLakes and selected parts to partners in EC FP7 INFORM and EC FP7 Earth2Observe 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Use in subsequent research 
 
Title Global lake water quality dataset 2020, from Calimnos v1.3 (4265 lakes, 10 + 3 years) 
Description A complete reprocessing of all MERIS + OLCI satellite data records to provide water quality information on 4265 lakes globally. This data set was generated as part of the Copernicus Land Service Lake Water Quality with data generated by PML using its Calimnos processor, as requested by the UN Environment Programme to support its global assessment of Sustainable Development Goal 6.3.2. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact For the first time, a satellite-derived dataset of 10-yr trends in water quality will be provided through UNEP to all countries to aid their assessment for SDG 6.3. Particularly in countries where in situ sampling of water quality is lacking this marks a significant increase in the potential to monitor the ambient quality of waterbodies. 
URL https://land.copernicus.eu/global/products/lwq
 
Title Global lake water quality dataset from Calimnos processor, v1.04 
Description Dataset of remotely sensed water quality of 1000 lakes worldwide delivered to partners in NERC-GloboLakes and selected parts to partners in EC FP7 INFORM 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Increased collaboration between lake observation scientists in terms of in situ data sharing for dataset validation. 
 
Description BC/USTIR/PML MoU 
Organisation University of Stirling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint development of an inland waters processing system called Calimnos
Collaborator Contribution Joint development of an inland waters processing system called Calimnos
Impact Involvement in Copernicus Land project; unknown income yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description Eawag - collaboration on aquatic/terrestrial vegetation phenology from satellite products 
Organisation Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our team provide phytoplankton biomass time-series from the operational Calimnos satellite data processing chain for >4000 lakes over the period 2002-2020. I provide scientific expertise contributing to global analysis of linkages and changes in phenology of aquatic and terrestrial production patterns.
Collaborator Contribution Eawag recruited a post-doc to work full-time on this topic for one-year, with possibility of continuation. Eawag coordinates a team across several Swiss research organisations contributing data and analysis.
Impact not yet applicable
Start Year 2020
 
Description Michigan Tech - Global lake primary production modelling 
Organisation Michigan Technological University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our team provide time-series of global lake phytoplankton biomass from our operational Calimnos satellite data processor, scientific expertise to interpret model results
Collaborator Contribution Modelling and data analysis, production of novel research outcomes
Impact not yet applicable
Start Year 2020
 
Description Presentation of Globolakes Research at ESA S3VT 
Organisation University of Stirling
Department School of Applied Social Science Stirling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Presentation of Globolakes Research at ESA S3VT
Collaborator Contribution Data and figures for ppt
Impact Multi-disciplinary: Optics Remote Sensing
Start Year 2017
 
Description VIsiting Researcher Fellowship - Xinyan Li 
Organisation Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have entered into a collaboration to host Xinyan Li of the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology (NIGLAS, Chinese Academy of Sciences) at PML for 1 year, to jointly work with inland water quality satellite data and watershed nutrient modelling.
Collaborator Contribution The partner has secured research funding from China for this fellowship and is contributing expertise on nutrient modelling of Chinese lakes.
Impact no outputs yet
Start Year 2016
 
Title Calimnos 
Description satellite data processing chain for inland / coastal waters 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Used for Globolakes to produce 1000 lakes' data; contributed to other projects 
 
Title PyTrioS 
Description PyTrioS - sensor control software for field spectroradiometers 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2015 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Being used by community 
URL https://github.com/StefanSimis/PyTrios
 
Description ASLO Aquatic Sciences Conference Session: Global Remote Sensing of Inland Waters 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A session was organised at this conference to showcase the latest results from the project, with 3 talks from the project contributing to the same session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.sgmeet.com/aslo/honolulu2017/sessionschedule.asp?SessionID=031
 
Description ASLO2015, Granada (Spain) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chaired session 'bio-optics, optical biochemistry, and remote sensing of optically complex waters" and presented paper "Remote sensing of sun-stimulated fluorescence from phycobilipigments"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description ESA Living Planet Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project results presented to wide community of Earth Observation scientists, which led to further contributions to the project database of in situ results.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://lps16.esa.int/
 
Description ESA Mapping Water Bodies from Space 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral presentation "Mapping lakes, catchments, and land use impacts on water quality: the GloboLakes 1000"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description GEO Water Qulaity Summit, Geneva 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TO develop the Group on Earth Observations Water Quality community and define ways forward for a global service
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation at JNCC / Copernicus EO4WAter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presenation on the CERTO project which includs ideas originally started in GloboLakes. AIm was to increase interest in the area of inland and coatal water quality
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description University of Cape Town and CSIR visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Work visit to discuss algorithm development progress, including a seminar on project results
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit to NIGLAS, Nanjing, China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Work visit following part of a European Space Agency Dragon workshop, including a seminar for groups at the institute and local universities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017