Digital earth observation based solution for coastal water quality.

Water quality degradation due to climate and anthropogenic changes is a common challenge in both South-East Asian and Australian estuarine and coastal waters.

Project title: Digital earth observation based solution to improve monitoring and management actions for coastal water quality.

Project Outline:
Water quality degradation due to climate and anthropogenic changes is a common challenge in both South-East Asian and Australian estuarine and coastal waters. Degrading water quality induces significant stress on marine habitats such as coral reefs and sea grass meadows forcing flow-on effects on fish population reduction, invasive species introduction, impact on species diversity, and species extinction. Some of the main contributors to water quality degradation are increased loads of suspended sediment and dissolved substances from land due to climate and anthropogenic changes. Anthropogenic contributions of suspended matter to aquatic systems include poor land use practices, deforestation and mining. Disruption to coastal ecosystem functioning results in socio-economic loss to the human populations that depend on the estuarine and coastal underwater resources for employment and recreation.

The conservation and sustainable development of marine resources is a key goal under UN Sustainable Development goals (SDG 14). Achieving the targets under this goal depends on the successful management of upstream pressures and resulting changes on coastal ecosystems. Appropriate management responses are important to both maintain ecosystem status and to achieve impact on the socio-economic uses of the system. However, realising an appropriate management response depends on the availability of high quality information and tools and a knowledge base of potential solutions.

To address the knowledge gap this project will develop a digital earth observation based solution to exploit large volumes of satellite data (10+ years) to identify upstream pressures and link them to observed changes in coastal water quality. Knowledge and tools developed from this system will help regional managers develop future monitoring programs and to develop appropriate management response to mitigate and reduce the impact on the socio-economic conditions.

Project Funding:
Regional Collaborations Programme, Australian Academy of Science. This funding initiative is part of the Australian Government’s Global Innovation Strategy under the National Innovation and Science Agenda. supporting-science/awards-and-opportunities/regional-collaborations-programme

Project regional partners:

Project Publications:

Cherukuru, N., Martin, P., Sanwlani, N., Mujahid, A. and Müller, M., 2021. A semi-analytical optical remote sensing model to estimate suspended sediment and dissolved organic carbon in tropical coastal waters influenced by peatland-draining river discharges off Sarawak, Borneo. Remote Sensing13(1), p.99.

ChunHock, S., Cherukuru, N., Mujahid, A., Martin, P., Sanwlani, N., Warneke, T., Rixen, T., Notholt, J. and Müller, M., 2020. A new remote sensing method to estimate river to ocean DOC flux in peatland dominated Sarawak Coastal regions, Borneo. Remote Sensing12(20), p.3380.

Kaushal, N., Sanwlani, N., Tanzil, J.T., Cherukuru, N., Sahar, S., Müller, M., Mujahid, A., Lee, J.N., Goodkin, N.F. and Martin, P., 2021. Coral skeletal luminescence records changes in terrestrial chromophoric dissolved organic matter in tropical coastal waters. Geophysical Research Letters48(8), p.e2020GL092130.

Sanwlani, N., Martin, P., Cherukuru, N., Muller, M. and Evans, C., 2020, May. Climatology and trends of Dissolved Organic Carbon in coastal waters off Sarawak, Borneo. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts (p. 4393).

Project Investigator:

Research Scientist