Satellite Derived Bathymetry (SDB)

Satellite Derived Bathymetry – Introduction

EOMAP maps Satellite-Derived Bathymetry (SDB) for shallow waters. SDB is used to map water column depths using optical satellite sensors and specific algorithms. Our services have been widely used and validated in practice. Our clients acknowledge and benefit from the quality of our bathymetric data, our in-depth background knowledge and high level of service readiness.

EOMAP’s SDB methods have been developed over the last two decades and are being constantly improved and maintained, proofing our continuous and systematic scientific approach.

SDB has been in the research and development domain since the early 1980’s, where commercial applications were first seen in 2005. A milestone for SDB uptake by the wider community occurred in 2015, when the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office incorporated EOMAP SDB in Admiralty Chart BA2066.

Bathymetric data in shallow waters are of vital importance to, among others,  marine engineering, environmental management and hydrographic applications.

Key benefits of our state-of-the-art SDB services include:

  • Cost efficiency
  • Time saving
  • Rapid data access
  • Worldwide coverage
  • Quality assured
  • Customisable
  • Remote access
  • Non-intrusive
  • Applicable from small scale (25 km²) up to big (>10,000 km²) scale

EOMAP 2015, includes copyrighted material of DigitalGlobe 2015


EOMAP’s SDB methods rely on satellite sensors in space which record the reflected sunlight intensity at different wavelengths. These reflectance intensities vary – amongst other important factors – with water depth. This allows the calculation of water depths from satellite imagery. The technical background to solve this equation is however far more complex and includes the full physical description of the light pathway from the sun to the earth and back to the sensor. As such, it includes radiative transfer models, spectral databases, solver algorithms, and QA/QC routines. This process is known as the physics-based approach and handled by EOMAP’s well experienced team of analysts. EOMAP uses its Modular Inversion Program (MIP), which has been constantly maintained and improved since the late nineties.

EOMAP is the worldwide largest commercial producer of satellite-derived shallow water depth data. The proprietary processing and production workflows are based on more than 15 years of research and development at EOMAP and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

Product specification

The bathymetry products are available at a range of spatial resolutions (grid spacing) from 0.3 m to 30 m – for all optical shallow waters down to a maximum depth of 35 m. The aggregated results of our worldwide validation exercises, using accoustic and LiDAR comparisons, demonstrate typical accuracies of within 10% of actual depth +/- 0.5 m, for optical clear water conditions. Our SDB products are provided with uncertainty measures.

Documents for further reading

Sample Data

We’re updating our satellite-derived bathymetry demonstration dataset at the moment. It will be available again soon.
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