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Open AccessArticle

Monitoring Water-Related Ecosystems with Earth Observation Data in Support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 Reporting

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Rd, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
USDA Forest Service Washington Office, 201 14th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Science Systems and Applications, Inc., 10210 Greenbelt Road, Suite 600 Lanham, MD 20706, USA
Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Department of Coastal Studies, East Carolina University, Wanchese, NC 27948, USA
School of Computer, Mathematics & Natural Sciences, Morgan State University, 1700 E Cold Spring Ln, Montebello D302, Baltimore, MD 21251, USA
Booz Allen Hamilton, NASA Headquarters, 300 E St SW, Mail Suite: 3S67, Washington, DC 20546, USA
NOAA National Weather Service, 1325 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(10), 1634;
Received: 2 March 2020 / Revised: 11 May 2020 / Accepted: 12 May 2020 / Published: 20 May 2020
Lack of national data on water-related ecosystems is a major challenge to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 targets by 2030. Monitoring surface water extent, wetlands, and water quality from space can be an important asset for many countries in support of SDG 6 reporting. We demonstrate the potential for Earth observation (EO) data to support country reporting for SDG Indicator 6.6.1, ‘Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time’ and identify important considerations for countries using these data for SDG reporting. The spatial extent of water-related ecosystems, and the partial quality of water within these ecosystems is investigated for seven countries. Data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Landsat 5, 7, and 8 with Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) are used to measure surface water extent at 250 m and 30 m spatial resolution, respectively, in Cambodia, Jamaica, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia. The extent of mangroves is mapped at 30 m spatial resolution using Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), Sentinel-1, and SRTM data for Jamaica, Peru, and Senegal. Using Landsat 8 and Sentinel 2A imagery, total suspended solids and chlorophyll-a are mapped over time for a select number of large surface water bodies in Peru, Senegal, and Zambia. All of the EO datasets used are of global coverage and publicly available at no cost. The temporal consistency and long time-series of many of the datasets enable replicability over time, making reporting of change from baseline values consistent and systematic. We find that statistical comparisons between different surface water data products can help provide some degree of confidence for countries during their validation process and highlight the need for accuracy assessments when using EO-based land change data for SDG reporting. We also raise concern that EO data in the context of SDG Indicator 6.6.1 reporting may be more challenging for some countries, such as small island nations, than others to use in assessing the extent of water-related ecosystems due to scale limitations and climate variability. Country-driven validation of the EO data products remains a priority to ensure successful data integration in support of SDG Indicator 6.6.1 reporting. Multi-country studies such as this one can be valuable tools for helping to guide the evolution of SDG monitoring methodologies and provide a useful resource for countries reporting on water-related ecosystems. The EO data analyses and statistical methods used in this study can be easily replicated for country-driven validation of EO data products in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: water-related ecosystems; surface water extent; mangroves; water quality; Sustainable Development Goal 6; Indicator 6.6.1 water-related ecosystems; surface water extent; mangroves; water quality; Sustainable Development Goal 6; Indicator 6.6.1
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Hakimdavar, R.; Hubbard, A.; Policelli, F.; Pickens, A.; Hansen, M.; Fatoyinbo, T.; Lagomasino, D.; Pahlevan, N.; Unninayar, S.; Kavvada, A.; Carroll, M.; Smith, B.; Hurwitz, M.; Wood, D.; Schollaert Uz, S. Monitoring Water-Related Ecosystems with Earth Observation Data in Support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 Reporting. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 1634.

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