Developing affordable bathymetry data

18 Oct. 2016  


The European Space Agency (ESA) is backing a DHI and Proteus Geo project to advance satellite-derived bathymetry, reducing the need for costly physical surveys.

Obtaining bathymetry data – traditionally with the use of boats – is a costly and time-consuming process. In addition, access can be difficult or even dangerous in remote areas. Over the last three years, DHI has been working in partnership with Proteus Geo to make use of satellite imagery to produce a product that seeks to address traditional constraints. With this new project, we are seeking to develop an off-the-shelf service in collaboration with Digital Globe – a world leader in high quality and detailed satellite imagery.


Example of detailed satellite-derived bathymetry with satellite photo overlay. © DHI GRAS, DigitalGlobe

A repository of satellite-derived bathymetry data 

In many areas of the world, historic charts are the primary source of bathymetry information. Some of these charts are based on original lead line surveys from the 1800s which often excluded the very nearshore zone.

ESA has recently awarded Proteus Geo and DHI with a project to improve the efficiency of the data processing chain and encourage the wider use of this source of vital information by developing a repository of satellite-derived bathymetry data.

Creating satellite derived bathymetry involves the use of accurate high-resolution satellite imagery to create a dataset that reveals the water depth of both salt and fresh water coastlines. 

‘The current project is based on many years of research and development within advanced satellite image based methods, that allows us to cost-effectively derive detailed information of the coastal waters. At DHI, we are very excited to bring our key knowledge into a very promising product offering.’ – Rasmus Borgstrøm, Managing Director of DHI GRAS 

With ESA’s support, access to the Digital Globe imagery catalogue and the experience of Proteus Geo and DHI, the goal of mapping significant areas of the world’s coastal seas and oceans has begun. 

Quick, consistent and affordable

As part of this project, we are developing an online data portal that will allow rapid access to bathymetry data to users around the world.

‘Bathymetry data is the first step in understanding any coastal site. Often, data is sparse, with limited knowledge on the provenance and accuracy, or in some locations, non-existent. Providing a repository of data that can be accessed off-the-shelf will enable that first step to be taken more quickly, improving projects in the coastal zone. ’ – Nick Elderfield, Managing Director of DHI UK 

With high-resolution satellite imaging, data can be created quickly and consistently over large areas and provided for many applications, for example:

  • Port design and masterplanning
  • Marine spatial planning 
  • Marine habitat mapping
  • Environmental impact studies
  • Tsunami modelling

More details will be announced at Ocean Business 2017 where DHI and Proteus Geo will be unveiling the product.

Want to know more?

Contact nje@dhigroup.com or rlb@dhigroup.com for more details.