The Dutch research institute Deltares has developed an open tool that analyses satellite data and visualizes land and water changes around the globe.
According to the tool, the world has gained 115,000 km² of water and 173,000 km² of land over the past 30 years.
The Deltares Aqua Monitor was developed by Gennadii Donchyts, a remote sensing expert at Deltares.
It is the first global-scale tool that shows, with a 30-meter resolution, where water has been transformed into land and vice-versa.
Gennadii Donchyts: “The Aqua Monitor shows that, around the world between 1985 and 2015, about 173 000 km2, an area about the size of Washington State, has been transformed into land. At the same time, an area of 115 000 km2 has been transformed into water. Both documented and undocumented changes due to man-made interventions, natural variability, and climate change have now been revealed.”
Jaap Kwadijk, the Deltares scientific director: “This has never been done before. So it is difficult to imagine all the new applications that will be made using this tool. But the tool can be used by everybody and so I am sure multiple applications will emerge in the next few years.”
The Aqua Monitor uses freely available satellite data and Google Earth Engine, a platform for the planetary-scale scientific analysis of geospatial datasets that is now open to the general public.