Digital Earth Australia (DEA): From Satellites to Services

Mr Neal Evans1, Dr Trevor Dhu2, Mr David Gavin3, Dr David Hudson4, Mr Trent Kershaw5, Dr Leo Lymburner6, Ms Alla Metlenko7, Mr Norman Mueller8, Mr Simon Oliver9, Chris Penning10, Dr Medhavy Thankappan11, Ms Alicia Thomson12

1Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

2Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

3Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

4Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

5Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

6Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

7Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

8Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

9Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

10Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

11Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,

12Geoscience Australia, Canberra, AUS,



The 2017/18 Budget identified over $2 billion of investments in monitoring, protecting or enhancing Australia’s land, coasts and oceans over the next four years including: the National Landcare Program; the Commonwealth Marine Reserves implementation; implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and water reform agenda; support for State and Territory governments to develop secure and affordable water infrastructure; improving water quality and scientific knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef.

Geoscience Australia’s efforts within this investment will be a program known as Digital Earth Australia (DEA) and will directly support these investments through the provision of an evidence base for the design, implementation and evaluation of policies, programs and regulation. It will also support Industry with access to stable, standardised data and imagery products from which it can innovate to produce new value added products and services.


DEA is an analysis platform for satellite imagery and other Earth observations. Today, it translates 30 years of Earth observation data (taken every two weeks at 25 metre squared resolution) and tracks changes across Australia in unprecedented detail, identifying soil and coastal erosion, crop growth, water quality, and changes to cities and regions. When fully operational, DEA will provide new information for every 10 square metres of Australia, every five days.

DEA uses open source standards, building off the international Open Data Cube technology which is supported by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)1.



           Figure 1: WOfS Gulf of Carpentaria, QLD                                        Figure 2: Intertidal model over Exmouth Gulf, WA

Initial examples of how DEA will support government, industry and the research community through improved data include Water Observations from Space (WOfS), a continent-scale map of the presence of surface water; and the Intertidal Extents Model (ITEM) that consistently maps Australia’s vast intertidal zone to support coastal planning.

WOfS is already helping to improve the Australian Government’s understanding of water availability, historical flood inundation and environmental flows, while ITEM has yielded the first continent-wide tidal extent map for Australia and is being used by the Queensland government to assist in their intertidal and subtidal habitat mapping program.


DEA will benefit government departments and agencies that need accurate and timely spatial information on the health and productivity of Australia’s landscape. This near real-time information can be readily used as an evidence base for the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies, programs and regulation, and for developing policy advice.

DEA will also support agencies to better monitor change, protect and enhance Australia’s natural resources, and enable more effective responses to problems of national significance. Information extracted from Earth observation data will reduce risk from natural hazards such as bushfires and floods, assist in securing food resources, and enable informed decision making across government. Economic benefits are expected to be realised from better targeted government investment, reduced burden on the recipients of government funding, and increased productivity.

The DEA Program is developing joint projects to deliver products that address policy challenges across a range of Australian Government departments.


We invite you to be part of the future of DEA, as we build new products and tools to support Australian Government agencies to better monitor, protect, and enhance Australia’s natural resources.

Contact us to discuss how DEA can inform and support the work of your agency.




  1. Lewis, A., Oliver, S., Lymburner, L., Evans, B., Wyborn, L., Mueller, N., Raevksi, G., Hooke, J., Woodcock, R., Sixsmith, J., Wu, W., Tan, P., Li, F., Killough, B., Minchin, S., Roberts, D., Ayers, D., Bala, B., Dwyer, J., Dekker, A., Dhu, T., Hicks, A., Ip, A., Purss, M., Richards, C., Sagar, S., Trenham, C., Wang, P., L-W Wang, L-W., The Australian Geoscience Data Cube – Foundations and lessons learned, Remote Sensing of Environment (In Press).
  2. CEOS. Available from, accessed 28 Aug 2017
  3. Mueller, N., Lewis, A., Roberts, D., Ring, S., Melrose, R., Sixsmith, J., Lymburner, L., McIntyre, A., Tan, P., Curnow, S., Ip, A. Water observations from space: Mapping surface water from 25 years of Landsat imagery across Australia, Remote Sensing of Environment 174, 341-352, ISSN 0034-4257.
  4. Sagar, S., Roberts, D., Bala, B., Lymburner, L., 2017. Extracting the intertidal extent and topography of the Australian coastline from a 28 year time series of Landsat observations.Remote Sensing of Environment 195, 153–169.
  5. GA eCat Record, created 28 Aug 2017