Satellite SWOT |  30 times more lakes are monitored

Satellite SWOT | 30 times more lakes are monitored

An international satellite launched Friday aboard a SpaceX rocket will revolutionize monitoring of water bodies and wetlands in Canada and elsewhere.

“We can see all the lakes from 250 meters to 250 meters and rivers over 100 meters,” Melanie Trudel, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Sherbrooke, said during an information session. SWOT (Surface Water and Sea Terrain) is part of the satellite’s science team. “This is the first satellite to measure the level of inland water, and for the oceans, we will be more precise. »

SWOT has been in business for 15 years and Mme Trudel has been working there since 2015. He will significantly contribute to the calibration of the satellite’s instruments. In the first months of its mission, it will reach a speed of 857 kmph against 891 kmph which is slightly lower than in the operational phase. So he can visit the same bodies of water more often, especially Lake Saint-Francois, where a team from the University of Sherbrooke will simultaneously take direct measurements of water levels.

According to M, water level data is regularly taken for just 3,000 of Canada’s one million lakes that can be monitored by Trudel. This satellite will monitor 90% of the water bodies on the planet’s surface. It passes the same point every three weeks.

For the first time, small eddies can be seen in rivers that are so important for heat and carbon transfer. We can also observe wetlands.

Melanie Trudel is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Sherbrooke

Smaller currents along coastlines will also be better understood, Fisheries and Oceans Canada researcher Guoqi Han said during a conference Thursday organized by the Canadian Space Agency. All of this information will be critical to understanding climate change’s impact on lake levels, wetlands drying, and flood risk.

SWOT has a unique ability to take measurements across a piece, rather than at specific points, said Environment Canada’s Vincent Fortin during the conference. “This is important because the water level of the aquifer is not equal everywhere. »

SWOT work will last for three years only. Its budget is 1.1 billion US dollars. In addition to NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, their counterparts in France and the United Kingdom are participating in the project.

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  • 62%
    Proportion of the World’s Lakes Located in Canada

    Source: University of Sherbrooke

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