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Research at the University of Stirling has enabled global satellite monitoring of lakes and reservoirs. This has transformed how the Scottish Environment Protection Agency manage water bodies, has optimised UK reservoir management, and has given the United Nations a method for global water quality monitoring.



Lakes and reservoirs represent some of the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change and anthropogenic disturbance. These systems represent over 85% of the world’s surface freshwater, however, fewer than 1% of these are being monitored regularly for management purposes. Accurate and efficient monitoring of inland water quality is essential to ensure global water security.



The Stirling-led GloboLakes project pioneered the application of Earth Observation (EO) for lake condition monitoring. This was brought about by a novel approach for identifying differences in the reflectance signatures of inland waters.

The team have worked in partnership with the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Brockmann Consult to develop the first open and free operational inland water processing chain, Calimnos.



Since the start of GloboLakes in 2012, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been working with the team at Stirling to explore the potential of EO for water quality monitoring. SEPA are working to embed Stirling’s outputs within their day-to-day operations.

The team have worked with Anglian Water on their Water Resource Management Plan to improve management of their reservoirs for example through targeted, cost-effective treatment of algae in reservoirs.

Scottish Water is also pioneering research and innovation in partnership with the University of Stirling to deliver on their 2020 Strategic Plan which sets out the response to climate change mitigation and inclusive growth opportunities in Scotland.

UN Environment has used the Calimnos processing chain to deliver water quality products for over 4000 lakes globally. This is contributing to the goals of the United Nations Environment Programme Global Environment Monitoring System and Sustainable Development Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation.


More information

Institution: University of Stirling

Researchers: Professor Andrew Tyler, Dr Peter Hunter, Dr Evangelos Spyrakos, Dr Claire Neil

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Transforming inland water quality management through a global satellite observatory. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>