Delivering resilience to climate-related impacts on water quality through Earth observation

UK Climate Resilience Programme Webinar Series 2021

Date: 5 May, 12-1pm BST

Speakers: Dr Peter Hunter (University of Stirling), Professor Andrew Tyler (University of Stirling) and Dr Claire Neil (SEPA)

Chair:  Kate Lonsdale (University of Leeds)

See links to a video of the webinar and slides below


Water is arguably our most climate-sensitive natural resource and all sectors of society are likely to experience the impacts of climate change primarily through its impact on our water environment. Recent summer heatwaves have highlighted the vulnerability of UK water resources to climate change. Heatwaves are not only an issue for water quantity, but they also pose significant risks for water quality primarily through the growth of harmful cyanobacteria blooms waterbodies during hot and dry periods. This can lead to higher water treatment costs, restrictions to drinking water supplies, closures of recreational waters and deaths of domestic and wild animals. However, monitoring of cyanobacterial blooms is currently reactive and restricted in scale, which limits proactive management and raises risks to public and animal health of acute and chronic disease.

This webinar will present the outcomes of research funded by the UK Climate Resilience Programme on the development of operational services for monitoring climate-related risks to UK water quality using Earth observation satellites. Most notably, this includes the UK Lakes Observatory (UKLO) – a pilot operational service providing data on water quality and bloom events in more than 900 water bodies in the UK.  We will provide an overview of the UKLO and demonstrate how this system can be used for the detection and monitoring of water bodies impacted by blooms from the local to national scale.

We will also present an overview of the next phase this research – the Forth Environment Resilience Array (Forth-ERA). Forth-ERA is a new smart catchment observatory centred on the Firth of Forth catchment incorporating internet-of-things sensors, satellite data and artificial intelligence to provide information on water quality (alongside other uses cases) to inform decision making, to help businesses adopt more sustainable practices, to support policy and regulation, and to build community resilience. The webinar will conclude with a perspective from the environmental regulators (Dr Claire Neil, SEPA) on the value of satellite data, and smart infrastructures more broadly, and their contribution to improved monitoring of climate-related impacts on our water environment.

Presenter biographies

Dr Peter Hunter is a Senior Lecturer in Earth observation at the University of Stirling with expertise in the use of airborne and satellite data for water quality monitoring in rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal zones.

Professor Andrew Tyler FRSE is currently the Deputy Dean and Associated Dean for Research in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and leads the Earth Observation Research Group at the University of Stirling. From June 2021, Andrew will be the Scotland Hydro Nation Chair, a new initiative in partnership with Scottish Water and the Scottish Funding Council to lead collaborative research and innovation partnerships across the water sector to deliver sustainable water management.

Dr Claire Neil is a Senior Scientist and Earth Observation lead at Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). In this role she is responsible for driving and delivering EO applications to benefit regulatory monitoring.

View the video and presentation slides for the webinar:

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