Esri, UN and GEO Blue Planet release Water Health Tool

The tool uses real-time analysis enabling countries to monitor coastal water quality and use that information to guide policy and reduce pollution from land sources.

Esri, UN and GEO Blue Planet release Water Health Tool
Esri, UN and GEO Blue Planet release Water Health Tool

Esri, UN and GEO Blue Planet release Water Health Tool

Esri recently announced a new free and open tool it is making available for countries seeking to improve their coastal waters. The tool uses real-time analysis enabling countries to monitor coastal water quality and use that information to guide policy and reduce pollution from land sources.

A team from Esri, the United Nations Environment Program, and GEO Blue Planet partnered to develop this new statistical approach using satellite data and geospatial technology in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025.

The team received the 2020 GEO (Group on Earth Observations) SDG Award for the Special Category, Collaboration in recognition of the new tool they built. “We believe open science is good science, and a way to reassert science as a global public good,” said Dawn Wright, Esri chief scientist.

“This collaboration demonstrates that philosophy by sharing the jointly developed methodology and the resulting data in an accessible way.” Many countries depend on the health of their coastal ecosystems to drive their economies (tourism, fisheries, natural resources) and provide sustainable food sources to their populations.

The use of fertilizers and other chemicals that run off the land and into the coastal ocean have been shown to cause blooms in marine algae that can disrupt ecosystems and human health. By measuring above-normal concentrations of marine algae, this new analysis provides a starting point to achieve the SDG target of limiting marine pollution.

This project empowers countries, especially developing nations, with the information they need to understand potential impacts on coastal water quality, address those impacts, and have routinely updated data to understand and report their progress to the United Nations as part of the SDG initiative.

While governments and organizations around the world are already able to conduct these analyses, this project transforms the raw global data into actionable information to make it easier for them to make better-informed decisions.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations, require timely and objective reporting, and metrics are typically self-reported by each country. However, many nations do not have the capacity or capability to conduct ongoing environmental analyses.

This collaboration provides automated analysis for every coastal country in the world. The GEO SDG awards program, which honored this collaboration, recognizes excellence in sustainable development practices, analysis, and reporting through the use of Earth observations.

The awards recognize productivity, ingenuity, proficiency, novelty, and exemplary communications of results and experiences in the use of Earth observations for the SDGs.

This partnership’s methodology, now included in the UN’s Global Manual for Ocean Statistics, can also be applied in other environments where it is needed and modified to work on many geographic scales.

To see the initial analysis results and information products, visit the hub site at chlorophyll-esrioceans.hub.arcgis.com.