Deltas are the most productive and economically important global ecosystems associated with some of the largest coastal marine fisheries and the majority of global wetlands. They also the most extensive coastal lowlands threatened by climate change and human activities such as agriculture, navigation, fisheries, forestry, fossil energy production and industrial urban development. Under climate- and human-induced sea level rise, sediment trapping behind dams and destruction of natural protective ecosystems, deltas are currently sinking at accelerating rates.
Deltas maintenance and reconstruction depends on effective monitoring of vast and intricate areas of channels, lakes, wetlands, beaches, and islands that cannot be effectively accomplished on the ground without prohibitive expense. If ignored, disappearance of deltas will soon have devastating consequences for the livelihood of the half billion people who live in these coastal regions and lead to mass migration. I’ll present ideas & initiatives that seek to monitor deltas remotely and plug spatially-distributed data into models of hydrology, morphology, and ecosystem dynamics using remotely-sensed data from satellite missions that are complemented by ground sensor networks.