Water Observation & Information System and Product Portfolio

The Water Observation and Information System and Products Portfolio (pdf download here) provides an overview of the software components and the details of the Earth Observation products, which can be generated with the WOIS.

Product 1: Large Lakes Water Quality monitoring

This product group provides information on water quality and surface temperature for lakes in Africa larger than 1000kmĀ². The products are primarily based on ENVISAT data (MERIS FR and AATSR) for historical information and on MODIS AQUA for current information and the services to be delivered include:

  • Water quality products including Chlorophyll concentration, Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and Colored Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) based on full resolution MERIS data.
  • Surface Water Temperature based on AATSR.

Future operational data access shall be made available via Sentinel-3.

Water Quality Monitoring Sample 1

Water Quality Monitoring Sample 2


Product 2: Base Mapping

This product group delivers base maps of the basin (or sub-basin) as a baseline for further GIS analysis activities. The base maps provide basic, but accurate geographic digitised characterization of the main features of the area including:

  • Hydrological network
  • Administrative boundaries
  • Roads
  • Villages, cities
  • Main water relevant infrastructures, such as channels, bridges, dams, existing gauges and in-situ collection activities
  • DEM

Base Mapping

Product 3: Medium resolution land degradation index

The service provides land degradation indices for the full basin. The service  comprises:

  • Dynamic analysis of the land degradation and desertification processes at the basin scale using advanced methods for describing vegetation dynamics and vegetation response to precipitation and soil moisture content.
  • This is done by using advanced methods providing a robust description of the land degradation processes (i.e., loss of productivity) at the basin level.

This service is primarily based on MERIS vegetation indices and includes additional information such as precipitation and soil moisture.

Future operational data access shall be made available via Sentinel-2

Vegetation trends

Product 4: Medium resolution full basin characterization

The objective of this service is the provision of detailed land cover/land use maps and change analysis at medium resolution (300m pixel size).

The service includes:

  • Detailed land cover and land use mapping at medium resolution (300m pixel size) describing the major features relevant for water management including (but not limited to) rainfed croplands, irrigation areas, forests, urban areas and water bodies.
  • Temporal (seasonal) monitoring of changes and landscape dynamics relevant for water management (crops, irrigation, deforestation and water extent)
  • Long-term change analysis providing a long-term assessment of the major changes occurred in the basin under analysis


Future operational data access shall be made available via Sentinel-2

 Basin Characterization

Product 5: High Resolution Land Cover and Land Cover Change

This service provides a monitoring service for high-resolution basin characterization at sub-basin level, including a recent land cover inventory as well as land cover change, providing information on long-term land change processes, such as effects of climate change or overexploitation (e.g. disappearance of vegetation, change of cropland area).


This includes the following products:

  • Detailed land cover and land use mapping of main areas of interest within the basin at high resolution (20m pixel size) describing the major features relevant for water management (crops, irrigation areas, forests, urban areas, water bodies, etc.)
  • Long-term full basin change analysis providing a long-term assessment of the major changes occurred in the basin

The service covers selected river sub-basins or specific areas of interest.

Land Cover Change

Exposure Analysis

Product 6: Small Water Body Mapping

This service provides a detailed mapping and monitoring of open water bodies and their seasonal changes.


This includes the following products:

  • Small Water Bodies (SWB) maps, including reservoirs and lakes of a minimum size of 1 ha showing their extent and evolution with a 2 week frequency or more (depending on data availability) for the rainy season 2011
  • Historical mapping of the water surface extent of Lake Chad after the rainy season (January) from 1970-2012 at least on a 5 year cycle (depending on data availability).

Recent developments focus on the application of Sentinel-1 for water body mapping.

Small Water Body Changes (dry/wet season)

Small Water Body wet season

Product 7: Flood mapping system

The Flood Mapping System consists of two products:

  • Historical mapping of floods at high resolution based on ENVISAT ASAR data
  • Dynamic mapping of floods at high resolution based on Radarsat data in response to large flood events

First successful NRT flood mapping based Sentinel-1 was demonstrated in Namibia and Malawi/Mosambique.

Dynamic Flood Mapping

Flood Frequency_Sample 1

Flood Frequency_Sample 2

Product 8: Hydrological characterization

A number of hydrological products (at 1Km resolution) characterising the main hydrological components of the basin. This includes the following EO-based hydrological products covering the full water cycle:

  • Soil moisture dynamic and derived soil water indices (e.g., historic at 1Km resolution based on ASAR GM and operational at 25km based on ASCAT data);
    Future operational data access shall be made available via Sentinel-1
  • Water levels of rivers and lakes based on the integration of in-situ gauges data with EO-based altimetry retrievals.
    Future operational data access shall be made available via Sentinel-3
  • Evapotranspiration (e.g., based on state of the art algorithms and methods exploiting MERIS and AATSR);
  • Precipitation (e.g., by using advance methods based on SEVIRI and other EO data integrated with existing rain gauges)

Soil Water Index

Product 9: Hydrological Modelling

This product provides hydrological model outputs of the basins or sub-basins of interest. Models are fed with all available in-situ and remote sensing data. Model input and forcing data (DEM, precipitation, reference ET, land cover etc.) are derived from the WOIS products and available user data. The modelling system is thus fully adapted to African conditions.

Water Discharge Modelling

Product 10: Water supply and sanitation planning support

This service provides advanced products and tools to support water and sanitation planning for African users. This service has been requested by the African Water facility of the African Development Bank in order to better understand the potential of Earth Observation technology to support water related infrastructure projects in Africa.

The service is based on very-high resolution mapping tools (<5 meters) and processed to a level where they are compatible with water demand modelling based on different settlement types or urban infrastructure.

Sanitation Planning

Water Demand

Product 11: Medium resolution long-term and seasonal variation of wetland areas

This service contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between river discharge and extent/seasonal variation of wetlands. Moreover, it allows to better understand the ecosystem impact of recessional agricultural practises and supporting management strategies. This service is based on MERIS indices. Recent efforts were made to adapt the service to Sentinel-1 to improve the temporal and spatial resolution.

Wetland Mapping

Product 12: Medium resolution erosion potential indicator

This product group  established a base framework to ingest EO derived information to produce medium resolution, anthropogenic caused erosion potential indicator datasets (1990, 2000, 2012). The results is used by the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP) and will support its already operational watershed management programs.

This service is primarily based on

  • FEWS decadal rainfall data
  • FAO Digital Soil Map of the World
  • ASTER GDEM v.002
  • GlobCover 2009 v2.3 (which will substituted by TIGER NET Product 4)
  • TIGER NET Product 3: Medium resolution land degradation

Erosion Potential