HiSea presented at ESA Earth Observation for Water Cycle Science 2020 interactive session

The EU-funded HiSea project was presented at the European Space Agency (ESA) 2020 conference on Earth Observation (EO) for Water Cycle Science, held virtually on 16-19 November.

The project participated in an interactive virtual “poster” session integrating a short video presentation and a chat room on a dedicated project page, which HiSea shared with a sister-project also coordinated by Deltares.

Given the growing importance of transforming the sea into a sustainable food source for the coming generations, a central objective of the HiSea project is to “develop, test and demonstrate, in operational mode, novel Copernicus-based downstream marine information services to provide high-resolution products for different marine activities,” especially aquaculture.

The world population has quadrupled in the last century, driving up global food demand, which in turn is expected to increase between 59 and 98 percent – nearly doubling current demand – by 2050. “This will shape the markets in ways we have not seen before. Government and industries will have to work together to improve integration in supply chains toward a sustainable global food production,” the presenters noted.

HiSea supports sustainable development goals “by delivering accurate and reliable information, readily available and easily understandable, aimed towards sea activities management,” the presenters said. As such, HiSea constitutes an early warning service incorporating real-time crisis management, and provides information for planning operations on the basis of a knowledge database and key performance indicators.

A key innovation at the heart of HiSea is the involvement of end-users in co-designing its services and interface, allowing the project to more effectively target the aquaculture and port management sectors, the presentation said.

Benefits cited of real-time monitoring and forecast of water quality parameters include: optimisation of farming activities and planning (feeding rate, fish growth, harvesting schedule, anticipation and management of low water quality events and other crises); improved strategic positioning of aquaculture (assessing the potential impact of introducing new methods or species, adhering to the EU Blue Growth Strategy, facilitating licensing and certification); and financial benefits (reducing fish disease outbreaks, feed waste and other losses).

Explaining HiSea’s choice of Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS) to assess EO data and run models, the presentation noted that DIAS allows for unlimited, free access to Copernicus info and data, and its efficient cloud processing and big data storage, as well as the flexibility of the platform.

Among the conference’s objectives were to review the latest advances and results in the use of EO technology for monitoring and characterising the various components of the water cycle, and to review the latest advancements in EO water cycle research with a focus on interactions with the energy cycle, climate, hydrology, hydro-climatic extremes, and food.

The researchers present were also charged with identifying the major scientific challenges, gaps and research needs to focus on over the coming years, as well as the future opportunities offered by the increasing international EO capabilities from space, in synergy with in-situ observations, citizen science, advanced modelling, new technologies and interdisciplinary research, with an emphasis on exploring possibilities for collaborative research.