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CatchX

Sustainably managing water resources and associated freshwater ecosystems requires datasets that describe water availability within a catchment

The CatchX platform is a global web-based catchment hydrological information platform that allows scientists, water stewards and non-expert users to easily access and visualise hydrological information for river catchment level water management and stewardship.

About Catch X

CatchX is a web-based, global, hydrological information platform for determining catchment hydrological characteristics. The platform will improve access, or provide access for the first time, to standard water balance information at a river catchment level globally, without the need for complex GIS or hydrological modelling skills.

The platform delivers catchment characterisation reports, annual and seasonal water balance information and natural stream flow estimates. These can be used to; inform equitable water resource allocation decisions, identify high water-risk catchments for prioritisation planning, quantitative analysis of impacts on natural resources, and provide a hydrological contextual understanding for water stakeholders that might not be available otherwise.

Motivation

There are increasing challenges in managing water resources globally due to many issues. The first step in tackling these issues is information about water availability, but for many river catchments there are no river gauges that can provide this data. Recent improvements in global hydrology modelling and satellite remote sensing efforts have provided many potentially useful datasets to fill this gap in our knowledge. While many of these new datasets are openly available, they often need skills, time and computer resources to access effectively for any particular catchment in the world. The key motivation behind CatchX was to make these newly available datasets easily available to water information users in an easily usable form for the first time.

Goals

Due to the ever increasing number of global datasets becoming available, the first goal of CatchX was to select the best compatible combination of these hydrological datasets to represent the basic water parameters for a river catchment, for example, rainfall and runoff. The next goal was to process all these datasets for every river catchment in the world (57,646 to be precise), for a 25 year time period, to provide the data at a geographical scale that users work at. These results are then built into a carefully designed web platform to allow easy and rapid selection of a catchment and visualisation of the processed data. Potential users were surveyed and helped co-design the platform through a workshop to improve its usability.

Who will benefit?

The main user of the CatchX platform was originally envisaged as a water steward, much like that embodied in the Alliance for Water Stewardship, who define water stewardship as “the use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that includes both site- and catchment-based actions.” During development of the platform, it became obvious that there are lots of other potential users of the water data on the platform and this was explored through user stories in the platform development workshop. Essentially, anyone who needs easily accessible water information for a catchment will now have equitable access to the latest cutting edge hydrological data.

Where is CatchX now?

The development of the CatchX platform was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK, in order to accelerate the uptake of NERC funded science research. It is one of the first platforms that goes beyond providing access to datasets from a single research project, but instead focuses on the user and providing relevant, compatible datasets in a form they can use directly. The first 18 months of the project were focused on the development of the platform which is now fully live on a global scale and accessible for all. NERC have also funded the longer term hosting of the platform until the end of 2021 during which time, efforts will focus on collecting feedback from platform users and identifying development directions.

Funding

The CatchX project has been funded by The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), running from 2017 to 2021. The core research team includes 6 investigators from the University of Leeds, Earthwatch Institute and Rhodes University.

CatchX Team

Mark Trigg

Principal Investigator-University of Leeds

Read more

Luis Velasquez

Project Coordinator - Earthwatch

 

steering group

Plans for the future

The long term aim is to continue to refine and further develop the platform based on users’ feedback, so we strongly encourage you to let us know what your thoughts and experiences are with using this platform. Let us know the good, the bad and the ugly, in the feedback form and we will feed these into the next development phase, funding and interest dependent. We already have ideas to extend the platform in terms of: increasing the range of datasets, extending the time period covered, keeping datasets current, allowing the input of local data (e.g. locally gauged flows and rainfall), adding artificial influences on river flows such as abstractions, flow duration curve visualisation, and so on. If you can see value in extending the platform for your specific needs, we are fully open to discussing how this could be achieved together, so please get in touch.

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