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Assessing the utility of geospatial technologies to investigate environmental change within lake systems

Assessing the utility of geospatial technologies to investigate environmental change within lake systems

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-806
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPart A
Early online date29 Oct 2015
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016


Over 50% of the world’s population live within 3 km of rivers and lakes highlighting the ongoing importance of freshwater resources to human health and societal well-being. Whilst covering c. 3.5% of the Earth's non-glaciated land mass, trends in the environmental quality of the world's standing waters (natural lakes and reservoirs) are poorly understood, at least in comparison with rivers, and so evaluation of their current condition and sensitivity to change are global priorities. Here it is argued that a geospatial approach harnessing existing global
datasets, along with new generation remote sensing products, offers the basis to characterise trajectories of change in lake properties e.g., water quality, physical structure, hydrological regime and ecological behaviour. This approach furthermore provides the evidence base to understand the relative importance of climatic forcing and/or changing catchment processes, e.g. land cover and soil moisture data, which coupled with climate data provide the basis to model regional water balance and runoff estimates over time. Using examples derived
primarily from the Danube Basin but also other parts of the World, we demonstrate the power of the approach and its utility to assess the sensitivity of lake systems to environmental change, and hence better manage these key resources in the future.

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    © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


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