Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mapping Changes to Global Surface Water

A new map from the European Commission's Joint Research Council allows you to explore how climate change and human interference has affected surface water levels across the globe. Since 1984 every continent, apart from Oceania, has shown an increase in permanent surface water. However some locations, particular in the Middle-East, Central Asia, Australia and the USA have seen net losses in surface water as a result of drought and /or human engineering (e.g. river diversion and damming).

The Global Surface Water Explorer allows you to view changes to surface water levels across the world over the last 32 years. Using the map you can explore the changes and persistence of surface water over time at any location on Earth. The visualization is based on an analysis of over three million Landsat satellite images dating back to 1984. The historical satellite imagery was used to record the dates when surface water was present, how surface water changed over time and how water surface was affected by seasonality and persistence.

A number of interesting examples from around the world are provided in the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. These include an analysis of surface water changes in the Aral Sea, the Mississippi Delta and the Amazon River. The right hand menu allows you to add a number of different data layers to the map, which visualize surface water changes, seasonality and maximum water extent. You can also click anywhere on the map to view temporal profile charts of surface water levels for the selected location.

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