The JRC presents the Global Surface Water project at the Google Earth Engine User Summit 2015
03 July 2015, JRC - IES
IES Head of Unit Alan Belward gave a keynote speech this week at the Google Earth Engine User Summit 2015 entitled “Mapping Three Decades of Global Surface Water Occurrence”, in which he outlined progress on a collaborative project between the JRC and the Google Earth Engine (GEE) team on the development of global surface water occurrence and surface water seasonality maps.
These maps, the first of their kind, are being created from more than 2.8 million Landsat scenes (over 820 terabytes) acquired between March 1985 and March 2015. The JRC and GEE are using this wealth of data to produce detailed 30-m resolution maps of when and where you find surface water across the Earth, and a 30-year history of water occurrence and seasonality.
These unique maps will inform those interested in security of water supply for agriculture, industry and human consumption, for assessing water-related disaster reduction and recovery, and for the study of waterborne pollution and the spread of disease. The maps will also improve surface boundary condition settings in climate and weather models, improve carbon emissions estimates, inform regional climate change impact studies, delimit wetlands for biodiversity and determine desertification trends. Issues such as dam building (and less widespread dam removal), disappearing rivers, the geopolitics of water distribution and coastal erosion are also addressed. The World Bank, the US Environmental Protection Agency and The Nature Conservancy were among those keen to use the products as soon as they are finalised.
The prototype Global Surface Water Occurrence and Surface Water Seasonality products are currently being finalised by the JRC and GEE, and is set to be launched in the coming weeks.
Google Earth Engine
Google Earth Engine (GEE) makes the world's “free and open” satellite imagery available online with tools for scientists, independent researchers, and nations to mine this massive warehouse of data to detect changes, map trends and quantify differences on the Earth's surface. Applications include: detecting deforestation, classifying land cover and agricultural production systems, estimating forest biomass and carbon, and mapping the world’s roadless areas.
GEE is rapidly expanding with new open datasets and added functionalities. Google considers GEE a core development and is committed to continue to support it, especially its use in the scientific community. Currently 5 000 users are signed up to GEE use.
GEE is working on the integration of Copernicus Sentinel-1A imagery in "the Engine". The GEE team hopes to announce the release of this new data catalogue at the Milano IGARSS 2015 conference (26-31 July 2015). The GEE user community has high expectations for the use of Sentinel-1A and the recently launched Sentinel-2A imagery.
The Google Earth Engine User Summit 2015 was a three-day hands-on technical workshop hosted by Google at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It brought together 100 invited researchers and educators in GIS and remote sensing technologies who have been using Google Earth Engine, or are interested in learning how to use Google Earth Engine for planetary-scale cloud-based geospatial analysis.
The GEE summit was a great occasion to gather further technical insight into the system set-up, the existing and new functionalities, better coding tips and a number of peripheral API developments that allow integration of GEE outputs in other clients/server applications.