TechWorks Marine joins the ESA satellite validation effort

CoastVal is a new collaboration between the European Space Agency  (ESA) andTechWorks Marine.

During this two year project, TechWorks Marine will develop a buoy platform to validate water quality measurements from ESA satellites in our coastal waters. Satellites are potentially a very useful tool to monitor coastal water quality, but in situmeasurements to validate the satellite data are necessary to ensure their accuracy.

Coastal waters are more complex than open ocean waters due to the influence of land and river run-off, which lead to more suspended sediment and more biological activity in coastal zones. They are very dynamic, with conditions changing from hour to hour and day to day.

Satellite measurements of the water surface are essentially a combination of the solar radiation reflected from the surface and solar radiation which has been transmitted through the water and then reflected back out. The atmosphere has a large impact on how much of the radiation leaving the water surface reaches the satellite, which can introduce significant errors if not correctly accounted for. By observing the radiation at the water surface using a buoy and comparing it to the satellite measurement, we can remove the effect of the intervening atmosphere, and ensure that the data coming from the satellite is as close as possible to what we expect.

By using a point measurement from a buoy over a period of time, we can collect enough data to ensure that the results are representative of a dynamic area. Validating the data at one location allows us to use the spatial dimension that satellites give us with more confidence. This will help us to apply the data for both short term work where clients want a spatial view to give them a sense of what is happening in a particular area and to long term work where clients need robust, accurate statistics over a number of years, for Marine Strategy Framework Directive monitoring, for example.

Our aim is to make sure that the platform developed in this project becomes a permanent part of the European satellite validation effort, dedicated to direct observation of optical properties in coastal waters. This project builds on the extensivein situ ocean monitoring experience and the satellite data analysis and application expertise in the TechWorks Marine team.

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