News Locking our eyes on our wetlands

Last updated:18 June 2024

“Unlike people, satellites don’t have eyes, they have cameras,” says Bex Dunn, Earth Observation Scientist with the Digital Earth Australia (DEA) program.

“And with a camera you can combine satellite data in really interesting ways.”

Bex is one of four speakers whose work was celebrated in our DEA February ‘Showcase’ seminar on satellite data and wetlands research.

“As humans, we can usually see three combinations of colours,” Bex explains. “We have red, green, and blue rods and cone cells in our eyes. Satellites are much luckier; they can see further around the light spectrum.

“If we want to build a tool to look at how our wetlands are changing in terms of both vegetation and hydrology, like the DEA Wetlands Insight Tool we can combine the information provided by satellites in different areas of electromagnetic spectrum: investigating each pixel of an image for the percentages of photosynthetic vegetation it can see.”

Bex was joined in our wetlands Showcase seminar by Dr Fernanda Adame, Wetland Ecology Research Fellow at the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University; Mike Ronan, Manager, Wetlands, Queensland Department of Environment and Science; and Kathy Eyles, Assistant Director, Wetlands Section, National Focal Point Ramsar, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

2021 commemorated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the global Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Australia was one of the five founding nations to sign the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and conserve and manage those that remain.

Australia has Ramsar wetlands in every state and territory. 66 Ramsar listed wetlands, covering around 8.3 million hectares, are supporting biodiversity, our economy, and our quality of life.

Digital Earth Australia, on behalf of Geoscience Australia, is collaborating with governments, industry, and communities to build our national information capabilities, and to help maintain the health and sustainability of Australia’s unique and diverse wetlands.