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26/06/2020: The first Lakes_cci dataset is now available

The ESA Lakes Climate Change Initiative (Lakes_cci) project team is glad to annonce that the first version (1.0) of merged satellite products is accessible at:

This dataset contains global lake products for the following five thematic Essential Climate Variables:
– Lake Water Level (LWL)
– Lake Water Extent (LWE)
– Lake Surface Water temperature (LSWT)
– Lake Ice Cover (LIC)
– Lake Water-Leaving Reflectance (LWLR)

Main Data characteristics:
– Spatial coverage: 250 lakes spread over the world
– Spatial resolution: Grid 1/120 degree
– Temporal resolution: Daily.
– 1 netCDF file per day containing all parameters
– Temporal coverage: From 1992 up to 2019 (shorter ranges for some parameters).

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31/05/2020: Lakes newsletter number #3


The third newsletter of the lakes_cci project focuses in the Lake Ice Cover (LIC), a highly sensitive parameter to changes in weather and climate. Freeze-up/break-up, (ice duration) are robust indicators of climate variability and change. Additionally, Ice cover extent/concentration has an important impact of lake-atmosphere interactions

Given the importance of ice cover in lake-atmosphere interactions, the LIC ECV will be of interest to multiple users in different domains







01/04/2020 First Lakes_cci Anual Review

The 1st Lakes_cci Annual Review took place on April 1st, 2020. Given the COVID-19 confinement, this meeting was conducted by videoconf. The whole team was in attendance, presenting  the achievements of the first year of the project. It was also the oportunity to meet the new ESA Technical officer of the Lakes_cci project, Dr. Clément Albergel.


26/03/2020: Scientific Report in Nature Comunication 

The scientific report "The Lake Chad hydrology under current climate change" is published in Nature communication. Jean-François Cretaux, leader of Lake Water Level in the Lakes CCI project is one of the co-autheurs.


18/12/2019: Change of Lakes_cci Technical Officer

Stephen Plummer, former Technical Officer of the Lakes_cci project is not longer directly involved in CCI. Anna Maria Trofaier is currently the ESA Technical Officer of the Lakes_cci project.


25/11/2019: Lakes_cci User Workshop

The Lakes_cci User Workshop was organized in combination with the 6th workshop on “Parameterization of Lakes in Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate Modelling” in Toulouse. The main objective of this joint workshop was to exchange knowledge on lake remote sensing and on lakes parameterizations in climate models. The presentations, four of which made by Lakes cci partners, are available at:

The next LAKE meeting will take place in Italy in 2021


08/11/2019: Lakes_cci in Spanish

The web story from  ESA sentinel Online about the drying up of Acualeo lake was translated and published by a Chilean site:


23/10/2019: Lakes newsletter number #2

The Lakes_cci project has started to tackle some of the challenges involved in producing, what will become, the largest and longest consistent time-series of the Lakes Essential Climate Variables (ECVs).

During this preparatory phase of screening input data sets, revising algorithms and collecting validation data sets, for which collaborations with research teams around the world have been set up (more are welcome!). 

The newsletter shares the results from a user requirements analysis that has guided this process, and we take a closer look at one of the thematic Lakes ECVs: Lake Water-Leaving Reflectance, also known as water colour.




01/09/2019: 1st Lakes CCI User Workshop

The 1st Lakes CCI Users Workshop will be held from October 22-24, 2019 in Toulouse as part of the 6th Workshop on Lake Parametrization in Numerical Weather Forecasts and Climate Modelling (LAKE2019) organized by Météo France. It is a great opportunity to exchange knowledge on lake remote sensing and lake parameterization in NWP and climate models. 

This will be an excellent time to discuss the needs and uses of the modelling community regarding the satellite product time series that will be generated as part of the Lakes_cci Project.

18/07/2019: Lakes newsletter #1

The first newsletter, summarising progress made towards the first release of the Lakes ECV dataset iis available.

Here we describe the retrieval approaches for Lake Water Extent and first results from an inter-comparison of case study lakes, at different epochs.












11/06/2019: Article in Lakes & Reservoirs

An article, co-authored by Jean-François Cretaux from LEGOS and leader of Lake Water Level in the CCI project was published in Lakes&Reservoirs:
Kuanysh B. Isbekov, Vyacheslav N. Tsoy, Jean-Francois Crétaux, Nikolai V. Aladin, Igor S. Plotnikov, Guillaume Clos, Muriel Berge-Nguyen, Saule Zh. Assylbeko 

20/05/2019: LPS 2019

Some of the Lakes CCI project partners participated in the Living Plante Symposium held in Milan from May 13 to 17.  A poster with the description of the project and the importance of involving the user community was presented.

16/04/2019: Technical story in the Copernicus Website

The collapase of Lake Acueleo and its monitoring by Sertit using data from the Sentinel-2 satellite is now published as a technical story on the Sentinel Online website:

04/04/2019: A lake disappeared!

In just three years (2016-2019), the Aculeo lake, in Chile, has complete disappeared. The Sertit, leading the New Methodologies in the Lake Water extent in the Lakes CCI project, observed its decreasing until vanished, using timeseries from sentinel 2 ( Monitoring in the evolution of lake extent is, among other lake variables, one of the objectives of the Lakes CCI project.

18/03/2019: Article in Nature Geoscience

A new publication from The University of Reading, leader of Lake Water Temperature in the Lakes CCI project, was published in Nature Geoscience:
R.Iestyn Woolway & Christopher J. Merchant

01/03/19: ASLO 2019 Aquatic sciences meeting 

The ASLO meeting 2019 was held in San Juan de Puerto Rico, from February 23 to March 2. The goal of ASLO is to foster a diverse, international scientific community that creates, integrates and communicates knowledge across the full spectrum of aquatic sciences. Claude Duguay, the Lake Ice Cover (LIC) leader of the Lakes CCI project, presented the "Delivering the Lake Essential Climate Variables - an Update from ESA CCI Lakes" at the "Remote Sensing of Water Quality and Quantity" sesion.

14/02/19: Project Kick off 

The Kick-off meeting was hosted by ESA at the Harwell Campus. 17 participants from the project team.




Lakes and enclosed inland seas are integrators of environmental and climatic changes occurring within their contributing basins. The factors driving lake condition vary widely across space and time, and lakes, in turn, play an important role in local and global climate regulation, with positive and negative feedbacks depending on the catchment. As a result, lakes are essential to our understanding of water resource availability and its linkage to climate change.

Lakes have been observed as sentinels of climate change both directly and indirectly through watershed changes. This is because lakes integrate responses over time and are distributed worldwide such that they can capture different aspects of climate change in different geographic locations. 

The Lakes project aims to develop products for following five variables that comprise the Lakes Essential Climate Variable, as defined by GCOS-200: 

  • Lake Water Level (LWL): fundamental for analysing the balance between water inputs and water loss
  • Lake Water Extent (LWE): expansion in glacial regions and dryness in temperate zones
  • Lake Surface Water temperature (LSWT): this variable is correlated with regional air temperatures
  • Lake Ice Cover (LIC): analyse delay in the timing of freeze up in autumn and advance of break-up in spring 
  • Lake Water Leaving Reflectance (LWLR): study of nutrients concentrations that impact the abundance and composition of phytoplankton. 




The overarching objective of the Lakes_cci project is to produce and validate a consistent data set of the variables grouped under the Lakes Essential Climate Variable. This includes aiming for the longest period of combined satellite observations by designing and operating processing chains, designed to be ultimately feature in a sustainable production system.  

The main ambition associated with this objective is to establish wide uptake by a varied and fragmented landscape of potential users. This requires significant alignment of current practises for producing the individual Lake variables, cross-variable validation, and demonstration in the form of use cases.  Successfully tackling the challenge of producing a single data set for the Lakes ECV creates an opportunity to move the science community towards wider uptake of Earth Observation data in limnological studies.

The Lakes project covers multiple variables (Lake Water Level, Lake Water Extent, Lake Surface Water temperature, Lake Ice Cover and Thickness, and Lake Surface Reflectance).

To achieve this global objective, the specific objectives for the Lakes project are:  

  • To assess the requirements of the climate research community and thereby ensure consistency in the (further) development of the Lakes ECV processing system. The criteria will be revisited to propose complementary groups of lakes for each of the lake ECV product. 
  • To develop, test and select the best algorithms and standards to produce high quality Lake products for climate applications across sensors. A range of algorithms and methods will be assessed to yield the longest possible period of observations for each variable, and the largest possible subset of lakes for which a complete set of variables can be provided.
  • To provide a specification of the operational production system, aligned with related activities in the Copernicus programme (e.g. Global Land Service, C3S). The system will include new algorithms developed and validated within the project to meet user requirements. 
  • To validate the Lake ECV products through the involvement of independent climate research groups. Five Use Case studies are proposed for the demonstration of products and their value to climate science and applications.  
  • To generate new interest in the EO climate datasets produced for inland water bodies within the community of limnologists, operating at local to global spatial scales and likely to use varying subsets of the Lakes ECV products. 



About the project


As part of the ESA Climate Change Initiative, the Lakes_cci project is concerned with the generation of the lakes ECV composed of five variables: Level, Extent, Temperature, Ice Coverage and Water Leaving reflectance. The state-of-the-art for these variables approaches each with distinct combinations of sensors and methodologies for calibration and validation

The purpose of this project is to revisit the algorithms required for the generation of each parameter, trying to get as close as possible to the requirements of the GCOS and to design and a prototype system providing in a consistent way over years and from various EO instruments.

To this aim, the project is subdivided into 2 reprocessing phases composed into 5 main steps: 

The lifecycle of the project is led by these two reprocessing phases which will have different objectives: 

The main objective of the first reprocessing phase will be to provide users with a homogenized ECV lake datasets in terms of content, format and time period (as far as possible). Given the number of lake parameters (five), we will give priority to the production of the lake ECV dataset by the end of the first year of the project. Therefore, this production will be based on the state-of-the-art from previous projects, without full user requirement and algorithm development tasks. The system will be adapted to consider evolutions linked to the homogenization and input data will be managed to cover the longest period. Then after the validation step, data will be delivered to the users and the CRG. 

The second reprocessing phase will aim at providing an improved lake ECV dataset including the user requirements and new algorithms. This means that each step of the reprocessing phase will be activated. The work will start at the beginning of the project.

WP1: User requirement: In coordination with the WP5 team, this WP is dedicated to analyse the needs of the end users.  

WP2: Algorithm development: The origin of algorithms used in the project to calculate the five parameters is two-fold:

  • External algorithms identified as possible improvements for the Lakes_cci product
  • Conceptualised and developed algorithms within the project.

In both cases, the algorithms are developed, their uncertainty is estimated and the impact on the products is validated through round-robin exercises

WP3: System Development: The aim of this Workpackage is to maintain and further develop prototype systems to produce the ECV products.

WP4: Production Generation and Validation: During this task, the generation of the products is performed, based on the algorithms analysed in the WP2 considering the user requirements defined in the WP1 and using the system development from WP3.

WP5: Assessment of the ECVs products: The objectives of this WP are to:

  • collect the requirements from different international frameworks that play a key role in monitoring and understanding climate change.
  • sssess and exploit the ECVs generated in WP5 through five use cases using the products generated


The project team


The project is carried out by a consortium of 12 companies/institutes from 8 ESA participant states. It has built to integrate expertise in all the parameters of the ECV Lakes.

  • CLS, France,
  • LEGOS, France
  • University of Reading (UoR), United Kingdom
  • National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Italy
  • H2O Geomatics Inc (H2O Geo), Canada
  • Brockman Consult GmbH (BC), Germany
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), United Kingdom
  • GeoEcoMar, Romania
  • SERTIT, France
  • TRE-Altamira, Spain
  • NORUT, Norway

The consortium integrates partners from the Earth Observation (EO), hydrology, limnology and Climate communities, all having an international acknowledged expertise.

Due to the complexity of the project, two Science Leaders have been assigned: Jean François Crétaux from LEGOS and Stefen Simis from PML.

The figure below shows the main roles and task of the project with key personal names for each major activity.  ​

The five user cases will assess the usefulness of the data produced, they concern different parameters of the ECV lake

  • Use case 1: Analysis of ECVs for Lakes around the Tibetan Plateau: Joint analysis of LSWT, LIC, LWL and Glacier_cci
  • Use case 2: Analysis and interpretation of ECVs for larger lakes (LWLR, LWST)
  • Use case 3: Exploiting ECVs in Long Term Ecosystem Research
  • Use case 4: Brownification in Scandinavian lakes
  • Use case 5: Consistency of ECVs in the Danube river-lake-lagoon 


Contact us / support


Use the following emails to contact the Lakes_cci team:

  • Science Leaders 

Jean François Crétaux (email: jean-francois.cretaux[at]

Stefan Simis (email: stsi[at]

  • Project Management

Project Manager. Bruno Coulon (bcoulon[at]

Project Officer. Beatriz Calmettes (bcalmettes[at]

  • Lake Water Level and Lake Water extent experts

Jean François Crétaux: (email: jean-francois.cretaux[at]]

Hervé Yésou (email: herve.yesou[at]

  • Lake Surface Water Temperature

Chris Merchant (email: c.j.merchant[at]

  • Lake Ice Cover

Claude Duguay (email: claude.duguay[at]

  • Lake Water Leaving Reflectance

Stefan Simis (email: stsi[at]

  • Assessment of ECVs products

Claudia Giardino (email: giardino.c[at]

  • ESA Technical Officer

Clement Albergel (email: Clement.Albergel[at]


Resources, data and documents



From the Lakes_cci project the first set of definition documents is available: