High Resolution Long-Term Mapping of Koshi Basin, Nepal.

This project uses the data-set described in the Nature letter High-resolution mapping of global surface water and its long-term changes. This tutorial provides examples of how to use Earth Engine to visualize data layers available in the GSW dataset, and presents some typical visualizations and analyses.

Please check these references for more information

  1. High-resolution mapping of global surface water and its long-term changes
  2. Get water governance on the global agenda
  3. Global Surface Water Explorer
  4. Data Users Guide

About the Dataset

Water Occurrence (1984-2015)

The GSW dataset contains many data layers that present the surface water data in different ways. This dataset contains a summary of where and how often surface water occurred over the entire time-period between March 1984 and October 2015. The frequency with which water was present on the surface from March 1984 to October 2015 was captured in a single product called surface water occurrence (SWO). To compute SWO, the water detections (WD) and valid observations (VO) from the same months are summed, that is, water detection and valid observations from March 1984 are added to water detections and valid observations from March 1985 and so on, such that SWOmonth = ∑WD month / ∑VO month. Averaging the results of all monthly SWOmonth calculations gives the long-term overall surface water occurrence. The month-by-month time step normalizes occurrence against seasonal variation in the number of valid observations across the year.

Typically, more cloud-free observations (and thus valid observations) are available during dry seasons than wet. Without monthly weighting, the overall water occurrence (that is, computed over the full period) would be biased by temporal distribution of the valid observations (that is, giving more weight to the dry season than to the wet season).

In this tutorial, we will:

  1. add a styled map layer for visualizing water occurrence change intensity, and
  2. create a grouped reducer for summing the area of each transition class within a specified region-of-interest, and
  3. summarize the change intensity in a specified region-of-interest using a histogram.

This code is customized and edited as per the study area requirement. The original code is found in the Global Water Surface tutorial in Google Earth Engine.

// Import images from GSW dataset and store it in variable named “gsw”

var gsw = ee.Image('JRC/GSW1_0/GlobalSurfaceWater'); 
 var occurrence = gsw.select('occurrence');
 var change = gsw.select("change_abs");
 var transition = gsw.select('transition');
 var roi = ee.Geometry.Polygon(
         [[[105.531921, 10.412183],
           [105.652770, 10.285193],
           [105.949401, 10.520218],
           [105.809326, 10.666006]]]);

// Adding Visualization Parameters
The visualization parameters stored in JSON structure VIS_OCCURRENCE indicate that red should be used for a minimum value of 0% and blue for a maximum value of 100%.

     min: 0,
     max: 100,
     palette: ['red', 'blue']
 var VIS_CHANGE = {
     min: -50,
     max: 50,
     palette: ['red', 'black', 'limegreen']
Water Occurrence in Koshi Basin, Nepal. The permanent water surfaces (100% occurrence over 32 years) are represented in blue, and areas where water sometimes occurs are shown in pink through to purple. The paler shades are areas where the water occurs less frequently

// Creating a Threshold Layer
The water occurrence image contains information on how often water is expected using a range of values from 0 to 100%. However, it is often useful to define a binary water layer (i.e. “water” vs. “non-water”) based on a certain percentage of occurrence (i.e. a threshold value). We will use this simple binary layer as a clean background layer over which other GSW layers can be placed.

    palette: ['white', 'black']

Create a feature for a transition class that includes the area covered.

function createFeature(transition_class_stats) {
  transition_class_stats = ee.Dictionary(transition_class_stats);
  var class_number = transition_class_stats.get('transition_class_value');
  var result = {
      transition_class_number: class_number,
      transition_class_name: lookup_names.get(class_number),
      transition_class_palette: lookup_palette.get(class_number),
      area_m2: transition_class_stats.get('sum')
  return ee.Feature(null, result);   // Creates a feature without a geometry.

Create a JSON dictionary that defines piechart colors based on the transition class palette.

// https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery/piechart
function createPieChartSliceDictionary(fc) {
  return ee.List(fc.aggregate_array("transition_class_palette"))
    .map(function(p) { return {'color': p}; }).getInfo();
// Calculations
// Create a dictionary for looking up names of transition classes.
var lookup_names = ee.Dictionary.fromLists(
// Create a dictionary for looking up colors of transition classes.
var lookup_palette = ee.Dictionary.fromLists(
// Create a water mask layer, and set the image mask so that non-water areas are transparent.
var water_mask = occurrence.gt(90).mask(1);
// Generate a histogram object and print it to the console tab.
var histogram = ui.Chart.image.histogram({
  image: change,
  region: roi,
  scale: 30,
  minBucketWidth: 10
  title: 'Histogram of surface water change intensity.'
// Summarize transition classes in a region of interest.
var area_image_with_transition_class = ee.Image.pixelArea().addBands(transition);
var reduction_results = area_image_with_transition_class.reduceRegion({
  reducer: ee.Reducer.sum().group({
    groupField: 1,
    groupName: 'transition_class_value',
  geometry: roi,
  scale: 30,
  bestEffort: true,
print('reduction_results', reduction_results);
var roi_stats = ee.List(reduction_results.get('groups'));
var transition_fc = ee.FeatureCollection(roi_stats.map(createFeature));
print('transition_fc', transition_fc);
// Add a summary chart.
var transition_summary_chart = ui.Chart.feature.byFeature({
    features: transition_fc,
    xProperty: 'transition_class_name',
    yProperties: ['area_m2', 'transition_class_number']
    title: 'Summary of transition class areas',
    slices: createPieChartSliceDictionary(transition_fc),
    sliceVisibilityThreshold: 0  // Don't group small slices.
// Map Layers
Map.setCenter(86.9282,26.5288,12); // Koshi Nepal
  eeObject: water_mask,
  visParams: VIS_WATER_MASK,
  name: '90% occurrence water mask',
  shown: false
  eeObject: occurrence.updateMask(occurrence.divide(100)),
  name: "Water Occurrence (1984-2015)",
  visParams: VIS_OCCURRENCE,
  shown: false
  eeObject: change,
  visParams: VIS_CHANGE,
  name: 'occurrence change intensity',
  shown: false
  eeObject: transition,
  name: 'Transition classes (1984-2015)',
  shown: false
// Create a circle by drawing a 20000 meter buffer around a point.
var roi = ee.Geometry.Point([86.9306, 26.5296]).buffer(10000);
  eeObject: occurrence.updateMask(occurrence.divide(100))
  name: "Clipped",
  visParams: VIS_OCCURRENCE,
  //shown: false

Get the code

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