Describe your professional (and/or personal) experience relating to water and space technologies.
My interest in water is a result of my background in Geology. I come from a region (Katanga Province, Congo DR) where mining is the main source of livelihood. So, I had my bachelor's degree in Geology intending to work in the mining sector after graduation. However, towards the end of the bachelor’s programme, I was exposed to the deployment of geophysical equipment for water prospecting in my department. This got me fascinated and decided to major in the field of hydrogeology where my interest presently lies. Regarding space technologies, with remote sensing technology comes the possibility of data acquisition, spatially and temporally in an ungauged basin. This is the characteristic of most catchments in my region and most basins in developing countries in Africa. So, I am excited about working with space technologies especially in water/hydrology, because it avails me the opportunity of carrying out my research with less data restrictions than I would face using solely traditional in-situ data sources when it comes to data acquisition. The events that occurred during the 16th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium that was held in Mauritius in October 2015 further cemented my interest in water and hydrology. From that event, I got to know about a master’s programme in the Integrated Water Resources Management of the Southern African Development Community. I later applied, got a scholarship, and now hold a master’s degree in Integrated Water Resources Management from Dar es Salam University, Tanzania.
As someone with a background in geology, what role do you believe geologists play in the sustainable management of resources, especially water and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?
I believe geologists with a background in hydrogeology have a key role to play in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the sustainable management of water resources. Geologists help to develop tools such as hazard maps, pollution maps, hydrological modelling of groundwater regime and/or land contamination, often based on incomplete information. They also analyse collected information, to assess and predict the impact of human activities on groundwater quality and resource availability which can be deployed in decision making for sustainable management of water resources.
You have experience in geological drilling and geophysics, with a focus on the hydrogeological aspects. What benefits can space technologies play in such exploration?
Based on my field experience, in water prospecting, space technologies are more advantageous when it comes to prospecting or acquiring data at a larger scale (spatially and temporally) and narrowing down targets after which geophysical techniques like electrical sounding and others can be used to pinpoint the target.
What would you say are the most exciting emerging technologies for the acquisition of space observation data for hydrological prediction in ungauged basins?
I am very interested in these new techniques and the most exciting emerging technologies for hydrological data acquisitions are Radar altimetry (e.g., Jason 2, 3, CS, Saral, Sentinel 3, SWOT) for water level variation in rivers and lakes, Microwave imaging radiometer (e.g., SMOS, SMAP, SMOS Next, TRMM) for water contents in soils and precipitation retrieval, Gravimetry (e.g., Grace 1, 2) for total water storage variation, and Imaging spectroradiometer (e.g., MODIS) for evapotranspiration extraction. These space technologies help to measure mainly hydrological parameters relevant to understand and quantify the water balance of a catchment.
You have used in-situ and earth observation datasets in research on water flows in the Congo River Basin. What satellite missions and specific sensors did you find most useful here and what was the value and challenges of using both in-situ and earth observation data in this situation?
Truly, I have used in-situ and earth observation datasets in research on water flow in the Congo River Basin. Basically I use diverse satellite missions and sensors such as European remote sensing 2(ERS-2), ENVISAT, JASON 2 and 3 (J2/3) and Sentinel 3 A and B for my research. Among all the aforementioned, I found ERS-2, ENVISAT and J2 most useful because they match up with the global inundation extent from multi-satellite datasets for the periods that I am considering.
The challenges with in-situ data, especially in the Congo River Basin, are data gap (spatially and temporally) due to the decline in the management of stations network, data non-existence and lack of long-term record for which the Earth observation data can be used to complement and sustain long-term spatio-temporal monitoring of water bodies in the Basin.
How do you approach data collection for any given research project? How do you assess your data needs, research availability, and communicate additional data needs if they are not met?
I usually approach data collection based on the set objectives. The latter gives the idea of what will be evaluated throughout the research projet. The assessment of data needs is based on the tools and methodologies defined to tackle the research. The definition of the purpose and the approach of the research help to set the kind of data to be used. Furthermore, I proceed to review previous related topics with the intention of understanding how they were able to acquire or generate their data. Regarding the evaluation of the research availability, it is a function of the problem to be addressed that justify the research. Usually, the communication of additional data needs that are not met is made as the limitation of the research and therefore will need further investigation.
You are currently enrolled in a PhD focussed on spatial hydrology. Can you elaborate on this?
I am presently undertaking my PhD in Spatial Hydrology at the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS), Toulouse, France. I explore observations and models to answer some scientific questions. I am working at improving the understanding of the Congo water balance by combining and analyzing a wide variety of observations from remote sensing techniques (altimetry, gravimetry, multi-satellite techniques), in-situ measurements, and hydrological simulations. Firstly, the research intends to validate the remote sensing derived products over the Congo River Basin, in particular, radar altimetry water level and global inundation extent from multi-satellite using in situ data (historical and current observations). Then, to use the validated datasets in estimating and analysing the seasonal and inter-annual variability of surface and groundwater storages. Thirdly, to run a hydrological-hydrodynamic model to characterize and reproduce the hydro-climate variability of the Congo Basin. These, put together, will allow to understand the processes governing the various components in the water cycle of the hydrological dynamic of the basin.
What do you think is poorly understood in the field of hydrogeology/hydrology and what do you see as the major advancements and changes that need to occur for groundwater resources to be better managed and accessed across the world? Can space technologies contribute to this?
Some hydrology related issues that are poorly understood in the field of hydrogeology/hydrology have to do with the understanding of the time variability and change, space variability and scaling, variability of extreme events (flood, drought), interfaces in hydrology, modelling methods and interfaces with society. There is a need for major advancements and changes that need to occur in order for groundwater resources to be better managed and accessed across the world and a need for a better representation of groundwater resources through modelling. Space technologies can be of help in this regard by providing input data.
How well do you consider Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) is accepted and utilised across the world? Are there any challenges to implementing IWRM, if so, what are they?
Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) is accepted and utilised across the world. It promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources, to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare equitably without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. It is becoming more acceptable internationally as the way forward for efficient, equitable, and sustainable development and management of the world's limited water resources and for coping with conflicting demands. Yes, there are challenges confronting the implementation of IWRM. Some of these challenges are lack of understanding (i.e., its objectives, assessment of the applicability of IWRM with operational definition, and measurable criteria), inadequate resource mobilization/ capacity-building, and lack of appropriate toolkit such as policies, legislation, water law, institutions, regulatory instruments, surface water permit, for efficient and sustainable development and management of water resources.
What is your favourite aggregate state of water and why?
My favourite aggregate state of water is liquid. The Earth is called "blue planet" because about 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water.