Using Geospatial Analysis to Assess Water Health

Our world is facing many challenges that demand an understanding of geographic concepts and that benefit immensely from technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite imagery. These challenges include issues with worldwide impact such as climate change, migration, and food security, along with more localized challenges such as water health, deforestation, and land use.
The Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Lab at the University of Minnesota is using satellite imagery and GIS to monitor and assess the health of Minnesota’s natural environment across time, including its waterways. The water data they are tracking include water clarity (turbidity), color dissolved organic matter (CDOM), and chlorophyll concentrations, as well as tracking the presence of dangerous algal blooms, which can pose a threat to both human and wildlife health.
The lab is sharing some of this water data in an online Lake Browser, available to the general public at https://lakes.rs.umn.edu/. The browser includes data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as well. There are only a handful of lake browsers like this available nationwide.
There are also time series animations available that show, for example, chlorophyll lake concentrations over time. We’ve shared a few of these animations below.
Listen in to the video above to hear Leif Olmanson and Benjamin Page describe the work they are doing at the Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Lab. In the video, they also demonstrate some of the technology and tools they use to collect, examine, and present the data.

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