Department Surface Waters - Research and Management

Global remotely sensed phenology of Blue-Green Ecosystems

This project contributes to the Blue Green Biodiversity Research Initiative – an Eawag-WSL collaboration focusing on Biodiversity at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Changing environmental conditions, such as climate change and eutrophication, alter the abundance and distribution of plant and animal species in time and space. These changes affect interactions between species, and therefore entire ecological networks. A change in environmental conditions thus likely affects biodiversity as a whole, and not only the species suffering from the direct effects of global environmental change.

Aquatic (blue) and terrestrial (green) ecosystems are closely linked through biogeochemical cycles and species that inhabit both ecosystems. Primary producers, such as algae and plants, form the basis of the ecological networks in both ecosystems. Using satellite remote sensing, we can observe seasonal cycles in primary production globally. As part of the Blue-Green Biodiversity initiative, we study this so-called phenology of lakes and watersheds across the past two decades. In particular, we study whether the phenology of primary producers has changed due to changing environmental conditions. We expect that blue and green ecosystems respond very differently to environmental change. This, in turn, may alter the links between both ecosystem types, and ultimately their species richness.