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Checking the sandbanks in the North Sea from Space

Finding the right surf spot with ESA's Sentinel 2 with near real time imagery

A couple of the scientists at VanderSat are actually surfers. We are based on the Dutch North Sea Coast in Noordwijk and this adds a really nice secondary benefit for our employees; surfing before or after the working day has finished (or during lunch when the stoke is too high). Westkust Surf, a Dutch surf company, asked us to do our magic and who are we to decline?

Usually we spend our time within the non visible part of the spectrum, solving big global issues with passive microwaves. VanderSat provides the highest resolution, cost-effective and information-rich soil moisture data in the world, with daily observations our customers can make better, more informed decisions at any scale - whether you are monitoring crops, predicting the weather, performing predictive analysis, or preventing forest fires. We deliver key input at an unprecedented scale.

Recently the Sentinel 2 pictures have become accessible to our scientists as a part of ESA's open data policy, and man, are we having a blast. For those who don't know. Sentinel  2 is a satellite launched by ESA. There is something special about the bird's eye view perspective that these birds that fly at a height of 780 km give us.

The best thing about it is that you can see the world as it evolves. Call it a near real time Google Earth if you will. So, coming back to those surfing remote sensing scientists at VanderSat, we decided to leverage the opportunity. After all, there aren't a lot of people who know how to handle satellite data and make it accessible to the world. 

Add to that the fact that the position of sandbanks are crucial for the way that a wave breaks and all of a sudden we have a new application for our images. Everyone knows about using Google Earth for exploring the surf potential of your destination. But in all seriousness, if you know even the slightest bit about topography/bathymetry and how a wave breaks, you’ll probably be aware of the fact that sandbanks move and that the size, shape and position of the sandbank  are essential to the wave's characteristics. One of the most helpful things about this satellite-assisted search is that you’ll be able to tell (at least a little bit) what direction your new spot will work on.

Last month, on the 12th of March 2016 to be precise, ESA's new satellite took some images of the North Sea at low tide. So there you have it, a near real time view of the sandbanks in the North Sea, for your inner explorer to enjoy. Courtesy of ESA and VanderSat. Download the file in the link below and let us know if you find a new spot or finally understand why that at your local spot changed so much recently.

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