Worldwater Newsletter, issue 3


Surface Water Dynamics from Space
November 2022

Project highlights

  • Developing robust and operational Earth Observation (EO) methods and tools for surface water dynamics monitoring, applicable at a global scale.

  • Integrating EO products and tools in a data analytics platform to foster the wider usage of EO data and surface water dynamics products for country and basin scale water resource monitoring and reporting

  • Building national capacities to better monitor and report on water resources using EO through user workshops, training courses and awareness events.


In this third Newsletter you will find a digest of the latest project achievements as well as a summary of recent and upcoming activities and events.

Please follow this space to stay updated and do not hesitate to get in touch for more information.

In the first half of 2022 the focus has been on concluding the Round Robin exercise and initiate the development of the software that will ultimately help empower national and regional stakeholders with tools and guidelines to better monitor their water resources.

In this Newsletter, we would also like to highlight the active role played by the team in various international events and specifically trying to highlight the new opportunities offered by the latest generation of satellite data, recent methodological and technological advances for big data processing and analysis.

It is now within the realm of countries to implement satellite-based surface water monitoring systems, and in the first quarter of 2023 the team will be looking forward to visiting our users in order to demonstrate, train, and transfer the information products and tools developed over the past two years.


We are pleased to announce that the outcome of the WorldWater Round Robin has now been concluded and the results published in Remote Sensing – a peer-reviewed, open access journal about the science and application of remote sensing technology. The Round Robin study was motivated by a wish to advance the field of satellite-based surface water detection by providing a systematic review and evaluation of algorithms for surface water extent mapping and monitoring. The study was especially looking for evidence that could demonstrate the improved observation capacity offered by the latest generation of open and free satellite data from the Sentinel-1 and -2 missions. These data come with improved spatial detail and with multi-sensor observation capacity and therefore has the potential to take space-based surface water monitoring to the next level especially when compared to existing global benchmark products.


As a courtesy of the WorldWater project the validation data samples used in the Round Robin study has been published and made openly available in Zenodo and in doing so hopefully inspiring more work on EO-based surface water extent mapping.


On 23rd and 24th of June 2022 the System Qualification Review (SQR) meeting took place at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy. The SQR meeting represented the high-level system acceptance and readiness review of the WorldWater processing system, toolbox and Data Analytics Portal. As an outcome of the meeting, it was decided to pursue an official release of the WorldWater software portfolio in early 2023. The release will be followed by an intense training program for our users to gain hands-on experience in operating the software tools for producing and using information products and indicators on surface water dynamics. The SQR was the first physical project meeting, and the team is hopeful it marks the beginning of a post-pandemic period where international travels are again possible so we can stick to our ambitious plan to meet most of our users on-site in the first half of 2023.

software tools

To halt and reverse the destruction and degradation of inland water bodies and related freshwater ecosystems there is an eminent need to enhance national capacities to undertake quantitative assessments and mapping of their surface water resources. The WorldWater project will provide users access to several software tools that take advantages of the new enhanced capacities of the Sentinel satellites (i.e., multi-sensor observation capacity in 10 m resolution) and which can be appropriated by countries so they can independently produce surface water information. These tools include [i] a free of charge and open-source software toolbox,; [ii] a cloud facility with online access to an automated cloud-based processing system and [iii] a surface Water Data & Analytics Portal, with visualization, statistical and analytical tools for an efficient utilization of the WorldWater Surface Water Dynamics products by regional and national authorities.

The WorldWater toolbox is currently being developed and implemented on openEO which is a unified data access platform and associated API that allows use cases to be built from explorative research to production. The WorldWater toolbox implementation is one such use case demonstrating how simple, yet effective water information extraction tools can be implemented into the openEO framework for wider access, transferability and usability by the user community. A key focus of the WorldWater toolbox is to ensure flexibility and adaptability for local conditions and with the option to be integrated in existing national infrastructures such as national data cubes or other ICT infrastructures. In contrast the online processing system is a closed automated processing system with a high general performance and efficiency and currently deployed for the large-scale national/river basin scale demonstrations to be delivered by WorldWater. Whether processed by the toolbox or the processing system the Data analytics portal will be the destination for the resulting water information products. Currently, the proof-of-concept products can be visualized in an initial prototype version but over the coming months analytical functionality will be added to a more advanced final version.


The ESA Living Planet Symposium took place on 23–27 May 2022 in Bonn, Germany. It is the World’s largest Earth observation event focusing on how Earth observation contributes to science and society, and especially on the role Earth observation can play in building a sustainable future and resilient societies. The WorldWater project gave a presentation titled “advancing the mapping of surface water dynamics from space” and featuring under the Topic “Empower the Green Transition” with an objective to provide confirmation on how Earth observation services can be integrated with local, national and global policies to drive socio-economic sustainable development, security, and resilience – all key aspects of the WorldWater projects underlying vison to “Empower national and regional stakeholders with EO data and tools to better monitor their water resources and report on the global water agenda”.

The 2022 World Water Week took place online and in Stockholm from 23. August to 1. September 2022. The WorldWater team contributed to this event with a presentation in the seminar “Informing the 2023 Political Agenda through Science” – a primary science session aiming at providing an overview of the latest science, evidence, and/or key findings from the past year that policymakers should know as they head into 2023.

Use this link to download the presentation and watch the full recording of the seminar here.

The seminar is the first in a series with subsequent sessions arranged to follow up with additional talks and discussions on how this evidence should change the way we work on water: Science to policy (1/3) and Science to policy (2/3).

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition took place from 11-15th September in Copenhagen. A primary focus of the event was to report on the water sector progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – and not only 6, which is dedicated to water and sanitation but also exploring how water is interwoven with all 17 of the global SDGs. Aligned with this focus the WorldWater project in partnership with UNEP presented the SDG 661 indicator global reporting workflow and provide a review of the design and development of the WorldWater open-source EO applications and services aiming at providing countries with high quality, timely, reliable, and disaggregated information on inland freshwater status and trends.