Australian expert workshop recommends steps towards better use of Earth observations for water-related applications

On 28 March 2018, 22 experts from research, government and industry came together in Canberra to discuss the use of Earth observation for a range of water-related applications, including water management, economic production, natural hazards and scientific research.

The event was jointly organised by the Australian National University, the CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), Earth Observation Australia, and the Australian Energy and Water Exchanges Initiative (OzEWEX)

Hosted by ANU’s Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics, the workshop was prompted by the establishment of the Earth Observation for Government Network and the expected establishment of an Australian Space Agency, as well as upcoming international deliberations by the International Committee on Earth Observation Systems (CEOS) co-chaired by Australia.

A number of themes were explored during the two-day event from which seven recommendations emerged, namely :

  1. That Australian organisations and a future Australian space agency emphasise maintenance of long-term data time series, providing continuity in satellite data archives and derived products, and promoting gapless and seamless consistency between different missions for key hydrological and environmental variables.
  2. That Australia’s data custodians undertake steps to optimise the timeliness of data provision, either through reviewing their own processes or through advocacy at international fora.
  3. That the Australian space agency formalise Australia’s contribution through cal/val activities, and actively support the maintenance and expansion of this capacity to support continuous satellite data benchmarking.
  4. That the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) invest in the development of a suite of satellite products along with support for cal/val activities for continuous benchmarking of key water-related variables, and that investment occur to address mismatches between information requirements and current NCRIS foci.
  5. That Australia’s strengths in developing pragmatic Earth observation applications and multi-sensor and model-data blending approaches are formally recognised and strengthened and contributed to international efforts where appropriate. Furthermore, that this capacity be supported and contributed at global scale in the context of international efforts.
  6. That Geoscience Australia develop analysis-ready data products from Sentinel-1 radar data that can be used to infer inundation dynamics, and that universities develop training programs for the use of radar observations in water-related applications.
  7. That Australia advocate for a hyperspectral mission suited to water quality monitoring where opportunities arise.

The full workshop report can be downloaded here.