Water is essential to all lifeforms, and monitoring of water resources is
very critical to ensure their sustainability. KUAS’ own Dr. Salem Ibrahim Salem has been working on
improving the accuracy of monitoring for the better part of his academic career.
There are a variety of approaches in this field: the main methods are using
satellite data and conducting field measurement. Field measurement produces very accurate data but is very
time consuming and does not provide the condition for a whole body of water. Satellite data allows
long-term, daily recording, but satellites only measure reflective sunlight and not water quality data
such as the concentration of water. A combination of these approaches is how Dr. Salem usually obtains his
data, but recently advancements in drones have resulted in new potential. As in other fields of
measurement, drones have the potential to change how we measure water dramatically. Drones fly much closer
to the water than satellites, but do not necessarily need the manpower and resources required for field
measurement. With drones, high resolution images can be obtained for large bodies of water at higher
efficiency than ever before – especially if improvements in flying time (i.e. battery life) and camera
functionality to include hyperspectral cameras come to fruition.
How does Dr. Salem’s research contribute to our understanding of water? The
first application that comes to mind is weather: water analysis helps make weather reports more accurate,
and on a global scale. This goes beyond tomorrow’s forecast to include predictions for extreme weather
such as floods, crucially important as such events have become more common in our changing climate.
Further applications can benefit people whose livelihoods directly depends on bodies of water, such as
fisherman. In developing nations, there is even higher demand, as the need for clean water (and thus the
analysis of toxicity in water) is crucially important. Dr. Salem has gathered data in Vietnam, Thailand,
the East China Sea and Tokyo Bay, and is looking to continue his research to help understand the most
crucial element to human life.