Belizean shallow waters from Space – The largest survey of its kind in the Caribbean – EOMAP delivers Satellite-Derived Bathymetry to UKHO

In early 2022, EOMAP started mapping the shallow waters of Belize using SDB technology. Parts of these approximately 9,000 square kilometres had never been sufficiently surveyed before.  Now, the bathymetry grids – the first lot of a multi-year framework contract – have been delivered to UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO).

“Satellite Derived Bathymetry plays an incredibly important role in improving our understanding of shallow coastal or remote areas not easily accessible by traditional methods.  The data collected on behalf of Belize by the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme will help management and sustainable development of the waters of Belize and strengthen future activities to support safety of the mariner and the environment”, says Ian Davies, International Hydrographic Portfolio Manager, UKHO.

A small subset of the Belizian SDB survey for UKHO, depth shown in white to blue colors. © EOMAP – incl. copyrighted materials of © Maxar, 2022

The survey covers all shallow coastal and marine waters of Belize down to a water depth of 20 metres on offshore reefs.  Multi-image SDB concepts were applied to overcome local challenges of variable turbidity and cloud gaps.  EOMAP has refined 35 very-high resolution records from Maxar’s multispectral satellites, ESA’s Sentinel-2 with 180 tiles as well as Planet’s SuperDove data for selected areas.

In addition, EOMAP used millions of space-born active laser measurements to create a Satellite-Lidar Bathymetry (SLB) database.  This resulted in about 1 million single depth measurements from the active Lidar system ICESat-2 ATLAS instrument, thus providing further verification and proof of the created bathymetric grids.  Finally, the German team has created and provided reflectance datasets of the shallow water environment – crucial for characterisation and classification of shallow water habitats.  They have been shared with the Belizean authorities.

“In order to keep bathymetric information up to date easily, we’ve now developed SDB-Online: This WebApp automates the above complex processes and thus allows users to create bathymetry grids within 15 to 120 minutes.  It builds on archived or most recent satellite records”, says Mona Reithmeier – SDB expert and SDB-Online Manager at EOMAP.  The new WebApp can be used to constantly update the bathymetric data in Belize and is helpful for any shallow water stakeholder.

By this extensive survey in Belize – just like by contributions to Seabed2030 and EMODnet Bathymetry – EOMAP continues to strengthen bathymetry knowledge, hydrography and coastal resilience in the Caribbean and worldwide.

End 2021, EOMAP was – again – ranked first-choice provider of SDB by UKHO.  Apart from high-class hydrographers and surveyors it is coastal zone managers and engineers all over the world who value the German tech leader’s satellite-based information on shallow waters.

Real-color image of seabed reflectance derived from EOMAP’s SDB technology. It enhances seafloor charactersiation and allows for mapping seabed habitats and features. © EOMAP – contains material of © Maxar, 2022

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