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Geospatial Data for Ocean Ecosystem

by Yashwant Singh

Some hard to believe facts about earth's water-

97 % - Found in oceans

2% - In frozen form  (glaciers and ice caps)

Less than 1% - fresh water and a tiny fraction of water exists as water vapour in our atmosphere

Main Issues With Oceans

A)Over Fishing
Commercial fishing is among the biggest trades that are flourishing round the globe. This includes consumption of fishes and other sea food products by human and it also serve as an input for other industrial process. This is happening in a large scale. Overfishing has its serious impacts on oceans. this is wiping out several species of fishes and many other that depends on them for their survival.

B)Ocean Acidification
About 30-40% of carbon dioxide released from human activities is dissolved into oceans. Too much uptake of carbon dioxide decreases the pH of oceans which in return increases the acidity of the water. Increasing acidity of water causes harmful consequences on marine life like depressing metabolic rates and immune responses and also causing coral bleaching.

C)Dying Coral Reefs
Coral reef is an underwater ecosystem. They occupy 0.1% of the world’s ocean area but are home for 25% of marine species including fish, mollusks, worms, sponges and others. They support a huge amount of small sea life. Coral reefs are bleaching out as a result of global warming and other activities. Elevated sea water temperatures are the main cause of mass bleaching events.

D)Ocean Dead Zones
Dead zones are those areas of water bodies which do not have sufficient oxygen levels to support marine life. There are more than 146 dead zones in the world's oceans. This causes reproductive problem in fishes.

E)The Great Pacific Garbage
Do you know the largest landfill of the world? Surprisingly it’s nowhere on land but in ocean and is known as the great pacific garbage patch. There are two big patches western and eastern pacific garbage. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California; scientists estimate its size as two times bigger than Texas. It's a huge accumulation of plastic and It is estimated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers.  

                                           The Great pacific garbage

Geospatial Technology with Solutions

Satellite imageries are best source of data for observation and study of the oceans. It is never possible for a land based source to get such huge data in a short period of time. 
Some key ocean parameters are: 

Sea Level and ocean current, sea surface temperature, ocean colour, sea ice, winds, waves and sea surface salinity.

A)Study of Physical Oceanography
This covers the physical study conditions, processes and variables within the ocean, including temperature-salinity distributions, mixing of the water column, waves, tides, currents and air sea interaction processes. Visible light, infra-red or microwave radiation are common to use for this purpose. They provide information about some properties of the ocean surface or water column.

B)Detecting Sea Level Changes
For over more than 40 years, satellite data is providing evidences for global sea level rise. From 1993 to present there is about 9 cm rise in global sea level. Remote sensing data is used to identify the land submerged and sea that changed into land at a particular location and within a set time frame. Satellite data from multiple decades are used in such studies.


C)Water and Coastal Monitoring
Shoreline mapping and monitoring plays a very fundamental role to manage coastal resources, environment, navigation and sustainable coastal development and planning as well. Geospatial data along with statistical algorithms is used to understand the dynamics of coastline changes and predict the trend for future.

D)Observing Coastal Eco System
Advances in technology and decreases in cost are now making remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS) practical and attractive for use in coastal ecosystem management. They are also allowing researchers and managers to take a broader view of ecological patterns and processes.

Summary
The ocean ecosystem is facing many problems including over fishing, dead zones, dying corals and acidification. Geospatial technology is contributing in dealing with many such critical issues. Study of physical oceanography, detecting sea level changes and water and coastal monitoring are some of the facilities provided by geospatial technology.


SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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