Monitoring Lake Victoria Water Quality from Space: Opportunities for Strengthening Trans-boundary Information Sharing for Effective Resource Management

Friday, 19 December 2014
Robinson M Mugo1, Tesfaye Korme1, Hussein Farah1, James Wanjohi1, Daniel Irwin2, Africa Flores3,4, Ashutosh S Limaye2 and Gwen Artis2, (1)Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development, Nairobi, Kenya, (2)NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States, (3)Regional Visualization and Monitoring System (SERVIR), Huntsville, AL, United States, (4)University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL, United States
Lake Victoria (LV) is an important freshwater resource in East Africa, covering 68,800 km2, and a catchment that spans 193,000km2. It is an important source of food, energy, drinking and irrigation water, transport and a repository for agricultural, human and industrial wastes generated from its catchment. For such a lake, and a catchment transcending 5 international boundaries, collecting data to guide informed decision making is a hard task. Remote sensing is currently the only tool capable of providing information on environmental changes at high spatio-temporal scales. To address the problem of information availability for LV, we tackled two objectives; (1) we analyzed water quality parameters retrieved from MODIS data, and (2) assessed land cover changes in the catchment area using Landsat data. We used L1A MODIS-Aqua data to retrieve lake surface temperature (LST), total suspended matter (TSM), chlorophyll-a (CHLa) and diffuse attenuation coefficient (KD490) in four temporal periods i.e. daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal scales. An Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis was done on monthly data. An analysis of land cover change was done using Landsat data for 3 epochs in order to assess if land degradation contributes to water quality changes. Our results indicate that MODIS-Aqua data provides synoptic views of water quality changes in LV at different temporal scales. The Winam Gulf in Kenya, the shores of Jinja town in Uganda, as well as the Mwanza region in Tanzania represent water quality hotspots due to their relatively high TSM and CHLa concentrations. High levels of KD490 in these areas would also indicate high turbidity and thus low light penetration due to the presence of suspended matter, algal blooms, and/or submerged vegetation. The EOF analysis underscores the areas where LST and water color variability are more significant. The changes can be associated with corresponding land use changes in the catchment, where for instance wetlands are converted to croplands. On-going dissemination of our findings together with capacity building efforts with the three main fishery and research institutions working in the lake, will enable informed decision making for the water management of LV. Enhanced capacity in trans-boundary water resources research is critical for successful decision making.