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Integrated Information and Management Support System (IIMSS)

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With an Integrated Information- and Managemenet Support System (IIMSS) it si possible to analyse data from remote sensing and in situ measurements. The IIMMS has been developed to monitor the realization of objectives for the European Water Framework Directive. The article also explains how IIMMS can be realized and applied.


The Integrated Information- and Management Support System (IIMSS) analyses both data from remote sensing and in situ measurements, which become subsequently visualized and processed for the monitoring of surface waters at a high temporal and spatial resolution. An environmental authority is thus enabled to get access on all relevant information about the actual ecological status of a surface water, about the ongoing of the in situ monitoring and the effects of corrective actions in order to assess efficiency and to take counteractive measures if necessary.


Due to the legal and compulsory developments and the different types of utilization of surface waters the requirements on the monitoring of these increases. For accomplishing the European water frame directive (WFD) monitoring programs are adapted. In addition, coupled to the aim of the WFD to improve the ecological status of the inland and coastal waters far reaching corrective actions will be made until 2012 on many surface waters and their effects have to be continuously assessed.

Apparent deficiencies have been identified in the WFD outlined in the documents of the Refcond and Impress projects. Although the WFD provides a good conceptual basis for classifying and restoring surface waters according to ecological status, in reality classifying, monitoring and policing good ecological status is going to be problematic. This is because pressures tend to occur at the catchment scale, impacts vary over a number of scales, change occurs with time and resourcing for in situ classification and monitoring is inadequate. In particular there needs to be robust monitoring and policing of changes in ecological status whether it be degradation of a water body due to a new pressure or an improvement in status due to restoration efforts.

Furthermore, classifications are not harmonized or standardised across European Member States. This opens the possibility for classification to be influenced by political interests and the lack of systematic or generic methodologies has resulted in judgements being based on expert knowledge alone.

In addition, data are missing concerning diffuse pollution and hydro-morphology and the linking of pressures and impacts remains an open issue due to the lack of appropriate methodology. Assessment methods especially lack for impacts of hydro-morphological pressures and impacts and are not based within a typological approach. Linking of water uses to pressures and impacts still seems to be insufficient.

Table 1. State of the art with respect to remote sensing of quality elements and modelling

For most European countries, the extensive nature of water bodies and river networks precludes effective affordable in-situ monitoring. To solve this dilemma efficient and cost-effective assessment tools applicable to the WFD approach have to be developed. See also Water Framework Directive.


Remote sensing (RS) provides the capability for harmonized monitoring of pressures at the catchment scale and impacts on water quality and physical habitat directly, and species indirectly, at the water body scale. A number of parameters can be determined by remote sensing at high spatial and temporal resolution which reflect the ecological status of a water body (Tab. 1). In order to use these data from RS for water management the parameters have to be interconnected to each other and to parameters obtained from in situ measurements. The strategy of IIMSS to derive this objective is based on the fact that all physico-chemical, hydrological and biological quality elements used in WFD for the assessment of the ecological status are strongly interrelated. In order to reduce the complexity of these interrelationships we clustered the respective elements in five categories: hydrology, vegetation, physical habitats, water quality and biodiversity.


Remote sensing data are applicable to most of the categories reflecting the ecological status (Fig. 1). However, the ecological status of a water body and changes in the status can only be assessed by RS if, complementary to the quality elements defined in WFD for in-situ measurements, the RS parameters relevant for the ecological status are transformed into RS specific quality elements (RS-QE). From these RS-QE appropriate indices are developed which give a number for each RS quality element on the ecological status. The sum of all RS specific indices allows the calculation of the Ecological Quality Ratio (EQR) of a water body complementary to the WFD.

Figure 1. Interrelationships between the different physico-chemical and biological quality categories which control the ecological status of a water body. The red arrows indicate the possibility to retrieve quality data by remote sensing.

Based on a pressure-impact analyses an index system will be developed which describes the type of interrelation, thresholds and uncertainties and thus allows an integrated assessment of the ecological status. The formal procedure to derive indices applicable for a given type of water in an ecoregion is summarised by the flow chart in Figure 2. RS-QE and respective indices then allow to process data from remote sensing for management purposes automatically. The common structure of processing used in IIMSS is based on the method of Balanced Score Card and is illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 2. The different steps (1-7) in the development of indices based on ecologically relevant data from remote sensing
Figure 3. The procedure of processing data from remote sensing for use in water management


With the Integrated Information- and Management Support System the gap in the provision of timely information for water management is closed. IIMSS provides comprehensive information in a manner to serve surveillance authorities: Complex information from remote sensing and in-situ is automatically processed to answer questions. It opens new opportunities to optimize the monitoring

  • as a Self Service Platform to detect early changes of the ecological status of the surface waters
  • as a tool for the management of the monitoring program and the cultivation
  • as an online platform for the public/external communication of results from environmental monitoring
  • as a tool for the cross- community harmonization of the monitoring activities

See also

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External links


The main author of this article is Kerner, Martin
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.