22 April 2021

Data Observatory`s Open Data Cube platform replicates wetland monitoring study in Atacama

  • In only 10 minutes, the platform provided Landsat images of the wetland located on the southeast side of the Copiapó Volcano between the years 1984 and 2020, confirming the changes in vegetation that are linked to local mining activity. Open Data Cube is a tool that is compatible with any type of study using terrestrial satellite monitoring data, and is highly scalable, efficient and precise.

The Superintendence of the Environment (SOE) carried out a wetland monitoring study in the Atacama Region, leading up to the closure in the year 2016 of local water extracting wells pertaining to certain mining companies. Today, thanks to Data Observatory’s (DO) Open Data Cube platform and the Australian Research Agency in Chile, CSIRO, it is possible to have the study replicated rapidly and efficiently; within a few minutes, Landsat satellite data registered between the years 1984 and 2020 can confirm damages in the wetlands, along with subsequent vegetation growths, measuring the period of time that came after the SOE determined to have the mining site closed down. The authors of this case study from DO are Álvaro Paredes and Rodrigo Carrasco.

The study included a seasonal annualized series per wetland taken from the southeast zone of the Copiapó Volcano, and used satellite images from the Landsat (5 and 7) sensor, setting the basis for monitoring the evolution of the plant life that is related to the wetland. All the information that was obtained by the Open Data Cube can subsequently be exported as tables, graphs, images or specific work formats, in order to transfer the results to other platforms.

Wetlands are humid zones (rivers, lakes, swamps and transition zones), that offer a wide range of benefits to wildlife and people. They truly act as biological corridors, avoiding floods and maintaining a constant flow of water during dry periods, purifying water and replenishing groundwater levels. Therefore, they constitute an important part of the sustenance that is available for indigenous communities and local tourism.

Rodrigo Carrasco, Chief Engineering Officer of DO, explains that this type of tool, since it is cloud-hosted, offers a high level of scalability that is almost unlimited and instantaneous, and this would enable the implementation of continuous and customizable monitoring. He also adds the importance of the cube’s access to an extensive amount of auxiliary libraries and terrestrial satellite monitoring data, which could enhance not only research and innovation projects regarding climate change issues, but also the development of assertive and timely public policies, based on a large volume of high-quality data.

The Superintendence of the Environment (SOE) is the entity responsible for executing, organizing and coordinating the tracking and auditing of the Environmental Assessment Resolutions, the measures outlined in the Plans for Environmental Prevention and/or Decontamination, the contents related to Environmental Quality and Emission Standards, as well as the Management Plans, whenever pertinent, and of all other instruments of an environmental nature, as established by law.

Review this Case Study at: https://cases.dataobservatory.net/datacube/monitoreo-humedales.html

SOE Press Release: https://portal.sma.gob.cl/index.php/2016/03/18/sma-sanciona-a-minera-maricunga-por-dano-ambiental-irreparable-en-sitio-ramsar-de-la-region-de-atacama/


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